Current economic and political climates, together with the need to provide more flexible learning opportunities for students, has resulted in unprecedented pressure on education to use information and communications technologies (CIT) as a way of coping with these pressures, without decreasing the quality of offerings.
This chapter reviews the introduction of technology in teaching and learning in higher education from the theoretical perspective of the MIT90s framework developed in Yetton et al (1997), drawing upon case studies of the introduction of technology in teaching and learning in two institutions, and a study of the outcomes of a national initiative to improve the quality of teaching and learning in Australia.
The framework for this chapter draws upon a study conducted in 1996/7 in which the universities of Wollongong, New South Wales and Melbourne collaborated on a report for the Australian Government titled "Managing the Introduction of Technology in the Delivery and Administration of Higher Education" Yetton et al (1997). Their research on twenty Australian universities (ie half of them) charts a substantial shift in the importance of CIT in teaching and administration, and in how universities therefore position themselves strategically in the market.
The report highlights five factors in which organisations must exhibit a ‘tight fit’ for the introduction of technology to be successful: strategy, structure, management processes, roles and skills, and technology. This chapter refers to each of these factors, but places an emphasis on roles and skills.
In a separate study funded by the Committee for the Advancement of University Teaching (CAUT) a project team reviewed the processes and outcomes of 104 information technology (IT) projects for university learning from 33 universities across Australia (Alexander & McKenzie, 1998). The major finding of this study was that the use of information technology of itself, does not improve learning. Rather, a range of issues were identified which contribute to the success or otherwise of learning and teaching with technology. Each of these issues is discussed within the framework identified above.