North Carolina State University
SACS Compliance Certification
August 15, 2003

Core Requirements 2.12 (acceptable QEP)
The institution has developed an acceptable Quality Enhancement Plan and demonstrates the plan is part of an ongoing planning and evaluation process.

Compliance
North Carolina State University is in compliance with this requirement.

Explanation
NC State University’s Quality Enhancement Plan—Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment (LITRE) —focuses on facilitating student learning and creating an innovative learning environment with technology.  The following is a progress report on the LITRE plan, which will be completed in January 2004.

The draft vision statement for the LITRE plan is as follows.          

Learning in a Technology-Rich Environment

Vision Statement

In the twenty-first century, North Carolina State University will use its historic strength in technology to pursue its stated mission “to create an innovative learning environment that stresses mastery of fundamentals, intellectual discipline, creativity, problem solving, and responsibility.”

  • By facilitating communication, course management, and presentation, a technology-rich environment can enhance laboratory and classroom instruction.
  • By diversifying and enhancing learning and teaching tools, a technology-rich environment can help faculty accommodate students’ individual learning styles and circumstances.
  • By enriching library, research, and database infrastructures, a technology-rich environment can encourage active, inquiry-driven learning.
  • By improving access to learning resources and providing new educational venues, a technology-rich environment can extend the expertise of the university beyond the university walls.
  • By expediting university services, a technology-rich environment can conserve scarce resources.

Technology has limitations.  It is a tool for achieving the university’s mission, not an end in itself.  It is an effective tool only when it is in the hands of skilled users, and only when its application is appropriate, reliable, integrated, supported, and sustainable.  

 

When completed, the LITRE plan will consist of initiatives intended to strengthen student learning through an enriched learning environment.  The plan will also establish an ongoing, empirical inquiry into the effects of technology on student learning.  More specifically, the plan will:

         Implement, coordinate, and integrate LITRE projects and programs critical to advancing our technology-rich environment

         Amass empirical evidence about which aspects of a technology-rich environment are most effective in improving student learning, including assessments of LITRE projects and programs

         Use that evidence to invest in and inform future LITRE projects, programs, services, and policies

Significance of LITRE for NC State University
As a research-extensive university with a flagship role, NC State University can provide leadership in the effective use of technology for student learning. 

Our particular mix of programs requires that we teach technology skills to all of our students. Every program includes learning outcomes related to technology skills, and the quality of every program rests in part on our effectiveness in teaching those skills.

More importantly, we believe that teaching with technology can enrich learning in all disciplines in the ways suggested by the vision statement above: by enriching the information available to students, by promoting active learning, by facilitating exchange between student and teacher, by helping students navigate academic and student support services, and by saving face-to-face time for learning rather than for course management. 

An essential part of the plan will be a rigorous assessment of the impact of LITRE projects on student learning and a commitment to using the results to drive decisions about future development.  We expect LITRE projects to provide useful strategies for improving student learning, both for NC State University and for other institutions.  LITRE projects may also enhance the university’s position among other research-extensive universities and help attract high performing students and faculty, leverage research dollars, and extend our reach across North Carolina. 

Further, the current economic climate makes it especially important to use limited resources based on real evidence of student learning.  A conservative estimate indicates that the university currently spends more than $30 million annually on educational technology.  Additionally, our faculty are proliferating new tools for and modes of teaching with technology.  New students arrive on campus with greater skills and expect technological sophistication, and they are taking more online classes and other technology-mediated courses.  Off campus, distance education is the fastest growing segment of our enrollment.  It is imperative that we base our decisions about allocating these limited resources on evidence and not opinion.

The Emergence of LITRE through Planning and Evaluation
NC State University’s first academic programs were in textiles, agriculture and engineering, all of which rely heavily on various forms of technology.  A thorough education in these disciplines still requires that students learn how to use and to improve the technologies used by professionals.  In this sense, since the 1880s the university has been committed to using cutting-edge technologies in its core educational programs.

The rapid development of information and communications technologies in the 1980s and 1990s added a new dimension to the role of technology in education and these technologies have affected all programs.  Increasingly, faculty members have put these technologies to work in the classroom.  As a result, the university articulated an explicit commitment to exploiting technology in the university’s strategic plan in 1995, one goal of which was "to use technologies to improve teaching and learning, to disseminate knowledge, and to improve access to university resources."  An implementation plan developed in 1996 directed establishment of a learning technology center (now Learning Technology Service [LTS]), a plan to support media production across campus (now supplied by LTS, the Libraries, and some colleges), and a campus-wide symposium to highlight and share faculty and student experiences using educational technology (now the annual Exposition of Educational and Instructional Technologies).

By the 1999-2001 compact planning cycle, teaching and learning with technology had become a high priority at the university.  The provost and nearly every college included in its plan one or more initiatives focused on using technology more effectively to improve student learning and teaching.  Among these initiatives was the creation of a vice provost for Distance Education and Learning Technology Applications (DELTA). 

During this period, an analysis of trends in student survey results clearly indicated student satisfaction with access to technology available at NC State University and with the level of computing skills they developed here.  Surveys of alumni indicated their satisfaction with the technology skills they had developed here.  However, these surveys also identified a weakness in training and support to use technology for their own learning.  These results suggested that the university had both strengths to build upon and opportunities for improvement, and administrators responsible for technology in learning and teaching began to respond. 

In 2001, when NC State University implemented a $468 million renovation and construction program, the Facilities Division developed new standards for technology in classrooms.  After assessing our facilities against those standards we will develop a long-range plan for classroom improvements.

In this context the university determined that learning and teaching with technology had become a strategically important issue requiring focused, university-wide planning.  The Quality Enhancement Plan provided an appropriate vehicle to integrate and enhance the planning and evaluation that had been developing for more than a decade.

As a supplement to the LITRE plan, the university asked all academic and administrative units to include their own LITRE-related initiatives in their 2002-04 compact plans.  Whether or not these unit-specific initiatives become official, university LITRE projects, we recognize that compact planning can be used to foster more partnerships, leverage resources effectively, and take fullest advantage of this shared priority. 

Stimulated by the need to know more about the use and impact of technology in learning, the Office of University Planning and Analysis (UPA) adapted existing student surveys to find out more about their learning with technology.  In addition, UPA surveyed faculty to see how they used technology in their classes and their needs for the future.

For the long run, the LITRE plan will include a strategy for assessing the impact of technology on student learning and the learning environment.  In addition, as the newly revised strategy for assessment of general education requirements is implemented, and as technology-related outcomes are assessed in ongoing undergraduate and graduate program reviews, faculty will assess student technology skills and knowledge.  Results of these assessments can be used to further the purposes of LITRE and inform future compact planning across the university.

Campus Involvement in the LITRE Project
Learning and teaching with technology was identified as a possible focus for the Quality Enhancement Plan through discussions in the Deans Council, Provost’s Office staff, Executive Officers Meetings, and University Council, which includes the deans, vice chancellors, and faculty and student leaders.  Although other topics were considered, LITRE was the single topic recommended by the Deans Council, and the executive officers and chancellor endorsed this recommendation.

The LITRE team has benefited from broad, campus-wide representation.  Its membership includes a faculty member from each college, a representative of the Faculty Senate, and a representative from each administrative unit with relevant responsibilities, such as Student Affairs, DELTA, the NCSU Libraries, and the Information Technology Division.  LITRE is co-chaired by a faculty leader in the use of technology in learning and teaching, and the director of the Learning Technology Service.

To invite participation from interested faculty, students, and administrators across campus, the LITRE team formed work groups whose membership was open to volunteers across campus. LITRE’s leadership also visited with key groups to keep them posted on their progress.  These groups included the Board of Trustees, Executive Officers’ Meeting, Deans Council, the Teaching and Learning with Technology Roundtable, Undergraduate Academic Operations Council, Graduate Administrative Board, college cabinet meetings, and Faculty Senate.

In addition, LITRE hosted a campus-wide forum in April 2003 to solicit ideas and preliminary reactions to the LITRE goals and possible projects.   Due to limited success in involving students in committees, LITRE held focus groups with students to solicit their ideas.   LITRE also started a website for campus communication.  The university Bulletin also publishes articles periodically throughout the planning effort.  Faculty, staff, and students have been encouraged to participate in each.

Before the LITRE plan is finalized in late 2003, it will be reviewed fully by faculty, deans, and executive officers to assure a high level of commitment to its initiatives.  

References

         The 1999-2001 compact planning cycle (/UPA/compactplan/compact99/compact_99.htm)

         Analysis of trends in student survey results indicate satisfaction with access to technology and with the level of computing skills developed at the university (/UPA/survey/reports/sophtrend/sophtrend_execsum.htm); Surveys of alumni indicate satisfaction with the technology skills they develop here (/UPA/survey/reports/alum03/alum03exec.htm)

         Distance Education and Learning Technology Services (DELTA) (http://my.ncsu.edu/index.cfm?tab=1)  

         Exposition of Educational and Instructional Technologies (http://www.ncsu.edu/edtech/information.html)

         Instructions for including LITRE-related initiatives in 2002-04 compact plans (/UPA/compactplan/compact2002/overview.htm)

         Learning Technology Service (http://lts.ncsu.edu/)

         LITRE’s website (http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/upa/accreditation/qep.htm) and LITRE’s membership roster (http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/upa/accreditation/teams.htm)

         NC State University’s first programs in industrial and manufacturing technology and agriculture (http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/archives/archives_programs/histori.html)

         New standards for technology in classrooms developed by the Facilities Division (http://www.ncsu.edu/facilities/univ-arch/const-guide/00703_classroom_standards_r1-01.pdf )

         The newly revised strategy for assessment of general education requirements (http://www2.acs.ncsu.edu/upa/accreditation/litre/minutes/implement.htm)

         Sample LITRE articles from the university Bulletin (http://www.ncsu.edu/BulletinOnline/03_03/LITRE.htm)

         Support for media production on campus (http://delta.ncsu.edu/lts/resources.cfm)


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