QUALITY IN THE MANAGEMENT OF TECHNOLOGICAL TRANSFORMATION: A FRAMEWORK FOR DEVELOPED AND DEVELOPING ENVIRONMENTS
Philip M. Uys
This paper suggests a quality framework
for the management of technological transformation in higher education. This framework
could be applied to other educational institutions such as in Europe even
though this paper focuses on a developing environment through an analysis of
technological transformation at the
This paper presents a quality framework for the management of
technological transformation in higher education by analysing the implementation
of learning technologies over the last two years at the
There are many aspects of the socio-economic and technological
environment taken for granted in developed environments that need to be
explicitly addressed when using learning technologies in developing
environments such as is the case in
The findings of this paper is not only related to theories of
technological infusion but also embedded in the practice of implementing
learning technologies within developed and developing environments. The
implementation of learning technologies at the
These elements have emerged during the two years that the writer
has been responsible for spearheading the implementation for new educational
technologies at the
This paper has also incorporated some of the key aspects of the
doctorate research conducted by the writer from 1995 to 2000 in
Learning technologies in use at the
A technological transformation is occurring at the
A state-of-the-art eLearning Support Centre has been implemented
as the first wireless network application at the
The eLearning Support Centre has been used to train more than 30%
of the academic community of 680 staff in various educational technologies
using more than 60 targeted workshops. A new eLearning Certificate,
issued by the Centre for Academic Development, has been designed by
WebCT, an online learning management system was acquired in 2002 after a rigorous evaluation process. At present more than 20 courses are online with approximately 2000 (of the 12 000) students involved. WebCT 3.8 offers a full suite of online learning tools including chat facilities, bulletin boards, online calendar, assessment tools, student tracking, email, content uploading and student administration.
A video-conferencing system, POLYCOM was installed in 2003 for
synchronous teaching and learning. The system links the main campus in
The Internet and particularly the Web is playing an increasingly important role as eLearning expands. Student use of the Web has increased exponentially and so has the demand for more computers and faster access.
Implementation of a computerised system for issuing equipment using a bar-code system at the central educational technology outlet is at an advanced stage. In the future academic staff will be able to both check availability of equipment via the network and also reserve desired equipment online.
Various research projects in eLearning have commenced. A study was for instance done in 2002 to encourage open discussion, information-sharing and entry-level counselling on HIV/AIDS by all staff and students. The study involved the use of public Web-based threaded message boards as an anonymous Q&A forum where an expert answered questions .
An eLearning Smart Classroom has been co-designed with visiting consultants and constructed for technology-based, active and collaborative learning. This classroom is laid out in a similar fashion to the eLearning Support Centre, with semi-embedded computers using a clustered arrangement. The Smart Classroom also features a video-conferencing system and a number of motorized screens for maximum flexibility in sharing information.
3. Some of the key elements of a quality framework for the management of technological transformation
Some of the key elements of a quality framework for the management of technological transformation that emerged over the last two years are:
3.1 Vision, leadership and dedication
inspiring vision for the use of new learning technologies has proved to be
critical at the
The critical importance of visionary leadership correlates with a central finding of Uys’s doctorate research  that Rogers' diffusion of innovation theory , when the innovation emerges from outside of senior management, needs to be augmented with a top-down component that includes both senior and middle management in order to accomplish effective diffusion of technology-based education.
vision of the
Educational Technology Unit (
Vision without leadership, however, is at best a fantasy, and at
worse a farce. Strong leadership for the use of eLearning, however, has been
provided on various levels at the
In this regard, the writer has provided direct leadership through
Dedication and committed work from within
3.2 Using a map for technological transformation to guide the implementation and selection of strategies
Once a clear vision and committed leadership have been established and there is adequate commitment to these, a map or model for the technological transformation process is required.
There is however no neatly formulated theory of generic change. Cannon  further points to the absence of a general theory of educational development and notes that educational developers therefore draw on theories from other disciplines to inform their educational practice. The use of models for educational change therefore becomes vital.
The LASO model emphasises the importance of integrated top-down and bottom-up processes, which is also proposed by Gunn . The LASO model suggests that technological transformation occurs when leadership is integrated with academic and student ownership and readiness. Leadership is achieved through mechanisms such as defining a clear vision for the transformation, providing a reward structure for those engaging in the change process and the creation of a strategic framework to guide the transformation.
The LASO model was born out of the reality of implementing
learning technologies in higher education in various settings such as
Ownership and readiness for change by both students and academic staff can be achieved by using strategies such as pilot projects, extensive training, establishing workgroups and learning communities in every faculty and using teams for online courseware development.
The curve of technological transformation is indicated in the LASO model as a ragged line to signify the complexities and dilemmas with which technological transformation in higher education is often associated.
A change model further needs to take cognisance of the systemic nature of technological transformation.
3.3 Appreciation for the systemic nature of technological change in education and a commitment to work with strategic partners in related systems
Technological innovation has often been implemented as an isolated, bottom-up initiative of academic staff for efficiency or experimental purposes. In this scenario the wider systems within tertiary education are often not considered and neither affected by the innovation. The senior management of an institute may thus feel justified in disregarding the innovation.
Likewise, solely top-down attempts have also regularly failed when the systemic nature of change and in particular academic involvement and ownership were not valued as a critical prerequisite to sustainable technological transformation. Tillema  points out that historical studies, based largely on experience in schools, show that top down attempts to achieve educational reform have failed, and suggests that they will be doomed to failure until they deal with the cultural and pedagogical traditions and beliefs underlying current practices and organizational arrangements.
Attempts to introduce any significant reform in an institution will impact on most of its sub-systems. Bates  contends, "…using technology to extend the campus on a global basis will affect all aspects of a university or college, but particularly administrative systems". Systems theory in general also calls for an integrated approach to technological innovation.
The technological change at the
Academics are deeply involved in the reform process through the UBel Committee and the eTeams that have been established in each Faculty. Two academic staff members on the UBel Committee represent each faculty and these staff members lead the eLearning programme within their faculty through an eTeam. Academic staff members, through the UBel Committee, were central to the selection of the online Learning Management System. Academic staff members were also central to conducting a University-wide needs analysis and in the design of the 2003 eLearning pilot programme.
The training programme at the
Addressing the complex nature of technological transformation
The implementation of learning technologies is a complex process due to its systemic dimensions and because people are central to this process (, , , ). It therefore deals with transformation not translation and contains many dislocations, dilemmas and uncertainties.
The ragged contour of technological transformation as depicted in the LASO model above has also been confirmed at the University of Botswana in contrast to the smooth contours of Roger's  diffusion of innovation curve.
Difficulties in human relationships, lack of resources at critical
stages, bureaucratic interference, change fatigue and dealing with diverse
expectations all contributes to the complexity of implementing and using
learning technologies at the
4. Summary and conclusions
This paper discusses a quality framework for the management of technological transformation. These findings could be used generically, but will be of particular value for ensuring quality in the management of learning technology implementation in developing environments.
This case study indicates that technological innovations need to be implemented within a strategically developed framework based on a clear and shared vision and facilitated through dedicated leadership.
It is an art to effect change and sustainable technological transformation since people are central to this transformation process. The LASO Model can act as a guiding model or framework for the technological transformation of higher institutions in general, and in particular in developing environments.
The use of learning technologies can be effective when the management of the transformation meets quality standards.
The systemic aspects of technological transformation need to be appreciated and addressed. The multi-faceted complexities and challenges that militate against the effective diffusion and adoption of ICTs particularly in developing environments need to be taken into consideration when designing quality infusion strategies for learning technologies.
The enthusiasm of academic staff and students about applying new learning technologies at the University of Botswana and the keenness of a core of academic staff to experiment with these learning technologies have acted as motivational factors for all involved in the UBel programme.
about the levels of energy and time required to achieve technological goals of
high quality in developing environments might need to be adjusted, but
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Dr Philip M. Uys, PhD
Deputy Director: Centre for Academic Development (Educational Technology)
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org /
Tel: +267- 3552799 Fax: +267- 3902884