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Don't Confuse a Tool with a Goal: Making Information Technology Serve Higher Education, Rather Than the Other Way Around

Working Paper #18, Summer 2001

Stanley N. Katz

This article examines the relationship between information technology (IT) and educational policy and argues that leaders of universities and colleges must do a better job of thinking creatively and strategically about how IT can enrich their institution's basic educational mission. The paper examines five areas of education policy that are deeply affected by IT-library policy, intellectual property, distance education, commercialization, and curricular standards and processes. The paper suggests that the new technology has unleashed such creative, frequently entrepreneurial activity that is so expensive, pervasive and difficult to manage that it has had a negative impact on some of our fundamental practices in teaching and scholarship. It will continue to do so, and it will drive us if we do not drive it. The paper asks, have we established the mechanisms to review, monitor and evaluate these developments? And, have we given enough thought to how we can employ IT thoughtfully and self-consciously to meet our explicit educational policy goals?

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