Technology has brought new roles, possibilities, markets, and challenges to post-secondary institutions around the world. International and global education has become a more approachable reality, as networks of information are open and physical and geographical borders have been basically eliminated. Furthermore, relationships between institutional constituencies have been redefined, mechanisms of teaching-learning delivery have improved, quality of communication has been enhanced, and support networks have dramatically expanded.
These significant and productive changes offer new options for all parts involved in this “higher education process”. Nonetheless, they also bring about new challenges and change the way we used to do things. They require continuously renovated infrastructure and, more importantly, the ability to use this technology infrastructure to its maximum potential, while integrating it effectively to strategies toward institutional goals and the achievement of student success. As technological advances emerge, campuses need to be more committed to take advantage of the potential of technology to enhance access to education and learning. According to the National Education Association, technology can be a critical complement to the educational experience, opening more opportunities for the learner than can be encompassed by one campus.
In 1997, Microsoft Corporation met with technology experts at post-secondary institutions in the country to identify existing needs and establish a vision for the role of technology in these institutions during the 21st Century. According to this vision, the “21st Century Campus” would be one in which technology was a key in the enhancement of teaching and learning and the creation of a dynamic learning environment (Microsoft Corp., 1997). In this campus, students develop lifelong learning skills; students and faculty have access to a vast knowledge and resource base, including other students and faculty worldwide; teaching and learning are customized; learning allows students to explore their interests anytime anywhere; and institutional administrative tasks are efficient and accessible. This vision not only continues guiding our colleges and universities today, but has been taken even further.
Today, post-secondary institutions keep learning about their students’ and constituencies’ needs and search for better ways to meet these needs through innovative technologies. For instance, understanding the challenges confronted by Hispanic and other non-traditional learners, institutions keep envisioning and developing innovative ways of integrating a net of available, accessible, and manageable technology-based services.
Technology is a valuable tool for supporting learning, managing student flow, creating instructional delivery systems, and linking instructional units with external resources and campus constituencies (Amy and VanDerLinden, 2003). It is, as well, a key component in the cost-effective expansion and flexibility of integral services (Benitez and DeAro, 2004). This is why it is so important to take advantage of technology as a tool that makes possible collaborative partnership among institutions with common goals and challenges.
Precisely, through collaboration, innovation, integration, and, of outmost importance, vision, HETS aims to facilitate the effective use of technology at member institutions. Following the challenges and requirements of this new educational world and global economy, it is of outmost importance that institutions use technology in the most effective and efficacious ways to accomplish their ultimate goal: the success of their student populations.
Amey, M. & VanDerLinden, K. (2003). The Use of Technology: Institutional Issues. The NEA 2003 Almanac of Higher Education. Washington, DC: National Education Association.
Benitez, M. & DeAro, J. (2004). Realizing Student Success at Hispanic-Serving Institutions. New Directions for Community Colleges, 127 (Fall 2004).