The digital world has become an iconic focus in the 21st century. To conceptualize a process through which higher education adapts to this emergence, requires a developmental perspective. The study and intentional facilitation of eTeaching and eLearning within the U Maine System context, is daunting.
The Information Age is at least 40 years in the making. In the past 15 years, defining 'digital literacy' and 'digital citizenship' have been a challenge (exciting and threatening) for educators given that every kind of educational enterprise is undergoing 'transformation' at a rate that seems historic and profound.
That said, we must either assume that we might but 'cope' with relentless change; or, we can attempt to identify a new institutional paradigm towards which we are 'shifting' (Kunh, T., 1962 - http://www.taketheleap.com/define.html).This paradigm or 'vision' is our light in the tunnel.
T4 is but one group studying these changes. Now in our third year, the group has visited all seven campuses seeking assistance in articulating 'landscapes' that describe the state of eLearning specific to each campus culture in the U Maine System. We've been reviewing literature and online resources to better educate ourselves about emerging models of eLearning institutions beyond the boundaries of our System. Many of the artifacts from this study are available at the open enrollment T4 website situated in Blackboard.
Mindful of the need to deliver to the community real and useful artifacts, over this year and next, we aspire to engage campus faculties in improving local planning based upon the needs of the campuses; to complete the two types surveys and focus groups. We will feed this information back to faculty, students and institutional planners at the campus level.
Half way through our inquiry, we are seeing patterns of development that suggest a predictable transformational process and elements of continuity that suggest a sustainable and stable paradigm for the era ahead.We welcome (and need) many voices informing this study. We have no illusions that we are ourselves more than investigators. T4 itself is an entity akin perhaps to the rovers (Spirit and Opportunity) currently exploring the planet Mars.