for Teaching and Learning
Ronald Black, Ed.D, University of Phoenix
There is a major need for higher education to confront the challenges of intense competition and to develop
new instructional paradigms that respond to the needs of the lifelong learner and workforce development.
Critical thresholds must be met in order to use technology to communicate, collaborate, and transform
teaching and learning focusing on learners who may be separated in time and space from the institution.
Higher Education exists as a community of scholars dedicated to he creation and
dissemination of knowledge and the preparation of future leaders in a global society. For many
learners there are significant barriers to full partic
ipation in this teaching and learning experience.
Technology is intended to break down the barriers of time and space and enable more of our
learners to participate and collaborate with faculty and other learners. Certain critical thresholds
must be met in order to use technology to communicate, collaborate, and transform teaching and
learning. Technology will not replace faculty or the hard work that teaching and learning requires.
We must continue to use technology to expand teaching and learning options. Technology can
help the learner to get connected to informatio and learning communities; expand participation in
the teaching and learning process improve access to learning materials, experts, and peers; and
provide new channels for active learning. These new teaching and learning options will require a
substantial investment in ongoing faculty development and technology enhancement.
Technology by itself does not improve or cause changes in learning. Onli e learning
environments have many capabilities and the potential to widen options and opportunities available
to teachers and learners. The key to changing conditions for improving learning is how these
options and opportunities are implemented. The value of technology for higher education is
proportional to the need for that technology to impact on educationa objectives. The current use of
technology involves the restructuring and the re-development of new teaching and learning models
that match the unique capabilities and features of the technology media. To carry out this complex
paradigm shift and address higher education’s challenges we must develop effective partnerships
and collaborative efforts internally and externally.
There is a major need for most colleges and universities to confront the intense local and
national competition, to enhance academic programs to meet the challenges of this competition,
and to develop new teaching and learning strategies to meet the demands of a global marketplace.
In today's global business environment, technological sophistication is key to higher education
competitiveness. However, many colleges and universities find it difficult to keep up with
technological trends, let alone establ sh the trajectory of technological change. A recent study by
James F. Fairbank titled “Strategic Technology Alliances and Global Competitiveness: A
Longitudinal Assessment of Three Industries” suggests that competitiveness in the global market
has resulted in an increase in strategic technology alliances. A fact that higher education and
corporations cannot ignore..
A primary factor contributing to higher education’s enrollment paradigm is that traditional
teacher-centered pedagogy and curriculado not meet current and future learner expectations.
Learners who enroll in higher education today have completed courses using multiple technologies
including video conferencing, personal computersand on-line learning tools in high school. Many
of the high schools and colleges that they have attended have extensive technology infrastructures
and include technology throughout their curriculum. These learners expect technology to be an
integral part of the curriculum. The limited use of applied technology in the curriculum has
created differences of opinions between faculty and learners concerning course delivery.
Each partner bases strategic technology alliances upon a strong commitment to mutual
decision-making, investment, risk, and reward. The relationship includes executive level
participation, shared technology resources, and the development and implementation of mutually
beneficial and innovative academic programs. Colleges must take advantageof the geographic
reach and functional capabilities of today's most sophisticated, interactive technologies including
the Internet, multimedia and electronic courseware applications. Alliance projects must focus on
the learning environment, enabling the college to design, develop, deliver, and manage distributed
learning in a way that complements rather than competes with traditional curriculum.
In our global economy, how colleges and universities will compete may be determined by
brands that will add values or belief systems to educational programs to permit institutions to carve
out a niche in their market. There are some indicators that the market for education will become
increasingly branded. Branding may be a key tool in the institutional arsenal to gain competitive
advantage (Riley, 1998, p. 13). At many colleges and universities this branding approach may
include specialized technology based programs such as an executive level master of business
administration degree program (EMBA). The executive MBA will reflect the collaborative
partnership between business and academia. This dynamic technology-based EMBA can be taught
at the vendor’s location throughout the world. The curriculum’s focus is designed to help mid-
level executives build valuable skills that will enable them to leverage the academic material
generated, analyzed, and distributed via technology. With this focus the learner will gain valuable
experiences that will empower them to advance the goals of their organization and advance their
career. Each course in the EMBA will contain online courseware projects, electronic bulletin
boards, E-mail and on-line chat in addition to lecture based classes and leadership seminars. The
courses will be team-taught using the college’s faculty and vendor professionals and executives.
In addition, a speaker series made up of senior executives from leading technology vendors will
participate in a monthly speaker series. This session will be in the form of a dinner business
meeting on the evening before allowing a forum for questions and answers between the speaker
and the learner. All of the courses will use e-business strategies as the basis for instruction. The
diagram below indicates the three-pronged approachto the EMBA, including learner-centered
instruction, executive leadership series, and Internet learning applications.
Learner Centered Executive Internet
Instruction with an Leadership Learning
E-Business Orientation Forum Applications
Application of College International and Courseware
and Vendor Strategic National Speaker Technology
Priorities Series Program
Instructional Support Current Topics
in a Team Teaching Discussion-based IBM ThinkPad
Environment Symposium Notebook
Intensive Prerequisite World Wide Web
On-Line Business and
Seminar and On-Line Learner Needs and
Best Practices Briefings
Faculty/Learner Chat E-Mail
There is a dangerous mismatch between what today's learner needs from higher education
and what it is receiving. This disparity has led colleges and universities to evaluate and develop
partnerships to ensure their ability to compete in a global economy. Many colleges have as a
strategy to embark on a program to maximize the advances in information related technology to
enhance operations, decision making, and instruction and to build bridges with government,
business, and other educational institutions, nationally and internationally, that adds perspective
and breadth to their programs, maximize resource utilization, and enhance the reputation and
exposure of our institution.
As stated earlier, colleges exist as a community of scholars dedicated to the creation and
dissemination of knowledge and the preparation of future leaders in a global society. Colleges
have recognized that for many of its learners there are significant barriers to full participation in
this community. The changing demographics are placing new demands on the college. Learners
are more diverse. In addition to ethnicity as a sign of diversity, learners are older, balancing life
and career priorities, and prefer to attend the college on a part-time basis. Learners are being more
selective about which institutions they attend. They expect to participate in a learning environment
that fosters measurable improvement in their skill development. Dolence and Norris write:
quot;Today's learners are becoming increasing impatient, their dealing wih world-class service
providers in other settings have conditioned them to expect just-in-time servicesquot; (p. 11).
Technology is intended to break down the barriers of time and space and enable more learners to
participate in the college experience. However, certain critical thresholds must be met in order to
use technology to communicate, collaborate, and transform teaching and learning to meet the
diverse needs of the current and future learner.
Brands, Partnerships and Alliances
Specific projects in strategic technology alliances can be based upon the marketing value
and emotional loyalty of the vendor’s brand. Vendors have spent billions of dollars creating
positive feelings toward its brand, both in the form of advertising and in skillfully designed
products and services. Throughout the years, technology vendors have created banner brands that
have added value to the products and services that its loyal customers continue to purchase. The
attributes of a banner brand that determines its impact on buyer predisposition include (a)
recognition, the level of brand awareness; (b) reputation, the confidence one has that a product
bearing a particular brand will live up to the producer's claims; (c) affinity, the extent to which the
brand is an integral part of the customer's sense of self; and (d) domain, the breadth of the brand's
potential catchment’s area in terms of plausible product scope. Multiplied together, recognition,
reputation, affinity, and domain determine a brand's share of mind (Hamel & Prahalad, 1994).
The stretching of the technology vendor’s brand to academicprograms is expected to communicate
a universal message about product integrity and quality, based upon the recognition that the vendor
and the college have formed a strong strategic technology alliance.
The strategic technology alliance establishes a partnership between technology vendors and
colleges that will pool each organization's resources and cut costs through the sharing of those
resources such as training, consulting and providing joint educational opportunities. In an article
on partnerships in Business Week's Frontier magazine J. Trent Williams, a principal at Regional
Technology Strategies, Inc., a Chapel Hill, NC based research firm that advises companies and
local governments on how to set up partnershi s states, quot;These days, you need to be too good at
too many things to do it yourself.” The article also reports that on national level almost one out of
five businesses has used strategic alliances as a way to expand. The point is that partnerships and
alliances are agreements in which there is equality of expectations, investments of time, funding,
and commitment to make them work.
Corporations have witnessed an explosion in alliance activity, driven by combined forces
of rapid technological innovation, globalization, intensifying competition and the blurring of
industry lines. Powerful forces are driving the formation of strategic alliances between firmsin the
world economy. The movement toward globalization has opened many new opportunities to
companies, triggering a desperate race for the future by major global suppliers of everything from
credit cards to telecommunications. The establishment of partnerships between government,
business, and learning institutions appears fundamental to the development of technology in
support of life-long learning. The public and private sector partnerships provide the synergy
required to develop innovative, large-scale technical solutions and innovations in their use in the
Clearly, the development and growth ofpartnerships in education and learning will benefit
the development of effective systems and break down the artificial barriers between academic
programs. Higher education is placing greater emphasis on developing partnerships with business
and industry and conducting contract training through continuing education and shadow colleges.
These initiatives are usually long-term, self-supporting and free of bureaucratic red tape.
Strategic Alliances in Higher Education
Higher education is currently faced with the challenge to connect people of all ages to the
learning process in new and different ways. Employers are seeking new ways to train their
employees with the assistance of colleges and universities. Alliances can meet both of these needs.
Alliances and partnerships are based on resource sharing. It is difficult for colleges and
universities to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies and new expectations in the
A model for strategic technology alliances in higher education is outlined in the book titled,
quot;Reinventing higher educationquot; edited by Diane Oblinger and Richard Katz in a chapter written by
J. C. Henderson and M. R. Subramani titled, quot;The shifting ground between markets and hierarchy:
managing a portfolio of relationshipsquot; (1999, p 114). The eight step model for college and
university relationships with industry include (a) focus, (b) leverage, (c) capability development,
(d) planning horizon, (e) accountability, (f) information behavior, (g) information mechanisms,
and (h) risk management. The strategy behind the model is to identify and include management
procedures that involve both organizations in the process of alliance development and
implementation. Involvement by personnel from each organization serves to develop a better
alliance and often ensures a quot;buy-inquot; from everyone involved in the outcomes.
Some critics are warning that there is a failure of higher education to prepare learners for
jobs in today’s global economy. Even employees already in the workforce do not have the right
skills for corporate needs of the future and nothing is being done to teach them. Because of the
constantly changing job skills needed in our high-tech society, most college graduates wil not be
able to compete. A significant question that must be asked is whether or not alliances between
higher education and business and industry will force shifts in the relationship to address the skill
failure. The question is even more complex by the fact that higher education, having become
increasingly dependent on federal and state government aid, are now battered by government
regulations and declining enrollments. In the face of declining resources, institutions are turning
toward corporations in search of sympathy, political allies, and new resources to enhance
enrollments, perhaps without thinking through the consequences of these alliances. Colleges and
universities seeking a competitive advantage are forming substantive alliances with the business
community in this new competitive environment. Strategic partnerships and structural alliances
are replacing the more formal goal of collaboration and cooperation. This is especially
advantageous for those seeking a foothold in the burgeoning adult-learning marketplace.
Technology Transformation in Higher Education
Higher education will continue to see revolutionary changes requiring institutions to
reassess market position, and embark in new academic directions. Universities are often at the
leading edge in the use of technology for research but not academics. Academics has been slower
to apply leading technology in the classroom, yet continue to advance the use of technology for
administrative purposes. The challenge of the future is to explore and use the power of technology
in teaching and learning wh enhancing technology use to run the institution.
The Internet continues to fundamentally change relationships, blurring the lines between
buyers and sellers, competitors and partners, employers and employees, and teachers and learners.
It is a new economic order, based on a new currency called knowledge, which fundamentally
changes the playing field. The result is new rules of competition, with new requirements for
workers, new challenges for management, and new demands for higher education. The figure
below reflects the changing rules of competition as they relate to jobs, education, and success.
A Skill Life Long Learning
Labor vs. Management Teams
Security Taking Risks
Plant & Equipment Internet Protocol
Job Preservation Job Creation
The Changing Rules of Competition
Status Quo Change
Zero Sum Win-Win
Wages Ownership Profits
Although these observations have greater acceptance today, the world is just beginning to
experience their impact. The integration of technology into a world economy is changing the rules
that have guided us through the industrial age, creating a very different environment. For higher
education the challenge is to prepare people to adapt to this ever-changing environment.
The debates are growing more intense about higher education's ability to respond to the
needs of the knowledge economy. Higher education must continue to stress the transformation
from teacher-centered strategies to learner-centered strategies. Learner-centered strategies are built
around learner objectives, the accommodation of learner restraints, and are self-paced and self-
motivated providing for individual learning styles.
Technology-based teaching and learning programswill continue to grow over the next
decade as an economical means of providing continuous education, and that information
technology will change the teaching enterpri e. A significant technology transformation in higher
education is the methodology used to help learners get the education they need to remain
competitive in a rapidly changing world. The transformation of teaching and learning and the
creation of learning communities will be driven by the rapid changeof skill sets required, the cost
of education and training, and the explosion of adult learners. In the future, there will be a blurring
of the lines between the 18-21 year old learner to an adult population that will be pursuing degrees
in non-traditional ways, seeking professional certification or getting training to improve job skills.
These learners need greater flexibility if they are to be able to handle their course work while
Net-based virtual learning centers have created new ways of teaching in which exchanges
among learners are as important as the exchange with the teacher. The best way to teach adults
online is to form learning communities, to get learners working together in collaborative groups.
Using technology for teaching and learning is an adventure with un predictable outcomes. What
we can predict with certainty, however, is the fascination that technology holds and the fact that its
mastery will be indispensable for today’s learner.
IBM's Role in Higher Education
The recognized leader of technology throughout the world is IBM. During the first half of
the twentieth century, under the leadership of Thomas J. Watson, Sr., IBM grew into a major
corporate power, creating and building new markets for accounting machinery. Thomas J.
Watson, Jr. assumed the presidency in 1952 and built on his father's success. The younger Watson
ushered IBM into the age of computers, leading the company to a position of dominance
unmatched in business history (McKenna, 1989). IBM began its formal relationship with higher
education 50 years ago when Nicholas Murray Butler, president of Columbia University and
Thomas J. Watson, Jr., President of IBM, jointly announced the formation of the Watson Scientific
Computing Laboratory at ColumbiaUniversity (Pugh, 1994, p.127-129). Throughout the years
IBM has provided significant support to higher education through investments, research grants,
curriculum, software tools, and consulting services.
In a press release from Seton Hall University in New Jersey titled, IBM-Seton Hall
University alliance will set new direction in higher education, the president of Seton Hall states,
quot;Seton Hall is teaming with IBM because IBM offers the very finest resources for instructional
technology. IBM's vision for integrating technology into the higher education experience so
closely matches our own goals for incorporating technology into the learning environment that we
decided to formalize the collaboration with the signing of this agreementquot; (Seton Hall University,
1997). IBM became interested in an alliance with Seton Hall in 1995 when consultants from
IBM's Global Education Industry Unit assisted a university committee in completing a five-year
plan for information technology. Sean C. Rush, general manager, IBM Higher Education states in
the press release: quot;Seton Hall is among the leaders in incorporating information technology in
higher education. By working in collaboration with Seton Hall we can share the strengths of both
organizations and work together to meet our goalsquot; (Seton Hall University, 1997). The Seton Hall
University and IBM strategic technology alliance has been recognized as the leading model for
strategic technology alliances throughout higher education. This model strategic technology
alliance continues today.
Another example of IBM’s commitment to strategic technology alliances for higher
education is their relationship to Monterrey Tech in Mexico. The Instituto Tecnológico y de
Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM), the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher
Education or Monterrey Tech was founded in 1943 by agroup of Mexican business men. It is a
private institution without religious or political affiliation. ITESM has 30 campuses, a learner
enrollment of over 86,000 and a faculty of about 6,877. First established in Monterrey, it has a
presence throughout Mexico and has begun to serve other countries including Columbia, Costa
Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. It also has field and
liaison offices in China, Singapore, Paris, Brussels, Washington, Boston, and Vancouver. Since
1989, it has operated a virtual university that today includes 1,430 receiving si es in educational
institutions and corporate workplaces throughout Mexico and Latin America. It is the largest
geographically dispersed educational system in the world. It provides ITESM’s dispersed faculty
with the means of increasing its skill in both subject matter and educational methods. High school,
bachelors, masters and doctorate degree programs are offered in such fields as computer science,
engineering, business administration, law, medicine, communications, and educational innovation
and technology. Additionally, it is determined to contrib to the economic strength of Mexico by
improving the skills of its engineers and others in the work force.
Colleges and universities who have developed strateg alliances with business and
industry have determined that the critical elements to alliance development includes planning,
transformation, and the appropriate use of technology to create a mission that is more productive
and personal to each organization. Strategic technology alliances and partnerships between higher
education and industry take many forms. The models demonstrate commonthemes of
collaboration between each organization, internal and external variables and how the strategic
technology issues facing higher education may capitalize on the industrial resources. The
collective skills, vision, and ongoing dialogue between each organization will help sustain the
transformation of technology in higher education throughout the 21st century and beyond.
Institutional, national, and global competitiveness ultimately depends on people. Individuals will
be more competitive if they have the right set of skills. The challenge is how to incorporate the
skills into the fabric of educational institutions. These projects include new learner-centered
academic pedagogical methodologies, electronic learning, and Internet based courses for using
various modes of academic courseware, learner mobile computing, and technology enhancement
initiatives. An alliance’s collaborative projects will improve new learner enrollment, increase
retention rates, integrate technology for teaching and learning, streamline administrative processes
and enhance the college’s ability to offer credit-bearing executive management and technology
education. It is clearly evident that strategic technology alliances between business and industry
and higher education are unique with different focuses and content. A strategic technology
alliance that is based upon a strong commitment to mutual decision making, resource investment,
risk, and reward by each partner will enhance on-campus academic programs and extend the
college’s reach to learners anywhere at anytime.
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