By Dr. Sylvia Charp Editor-in Chief Changes are occurring in the roles and responsibilities of Information System organizations and greater attention is being given to the consolidation of administrative and instructional functions in educational institutions. Though technology was first used for business operations to automate administrative procedures such as finance and payroll, activities increased to include student information, human resources, telecommunications, networking, etc. Instructional technology departments were created at a later date, primarily to manage the proliferation of technology in classrooms and to help meet curriculum objectives. Reporting procedures varied and often resulted in inefficiency. For example, in higher education institutions: · Information Systems Departments reported to the Vice President for Business and Finance and functioned as a mainframe-oriented administrative computing group. · Academic Computing Services reported to the Academic Provost or academic departments, with instructors purchasing PCs for non-administrative use. · Telecommunications departments reported to an academic Vice President for Administration, who may be responsible for communication services. · Instructional Planning and Research reported to the Vice President for Planning, providing decision support systems to the deans and academic officers. In school districts, responsibilities were also separate. Data processing usually reported to a management level, one below the superintendent. Instructional Technology was primarily the responsibility of the curriculum office. n Re-examining Traditional Structures Educational institutions are now re-examining their use of technology and consolidating the various departments involved with its utilization. Organizational change can be driven by a number of factors such as a desire for administrative efficiency, a push to maximize profits and minimize costs, the growth of networks and a realization that the ultimate goal for using technology is to serve the "end-user." Integration of departments is on the increase. It is recognized major improvements and better service result when all users have access to the same information. For example: · Penn State University has brought control at administrative applications, academic computing, telecommunications, and library computing under one umbrella. · At De Paul University, a team approach restructuring effort brought four separate groups into one division, eliminating redundancy, and resulting in better utilization of scarce resources. · Schools involved with site-based management are assuming responsibility and authority for technology needs. Administrators of the sites have had to maintain and support technology. · A greater number of educational institutions are seeking outside help to assist in managing technological activities. For example, Dayton Board of Education in April 1995 entered into a contract with BDM Education Technologies to upgrade the district's computing and technical services, to "assume operation of the district's information services department and to implement a state-of-the-art information system that will encompass financial management, human resources and student information." Human resources as defined by business is relevant to educators. The October 1, 1995 issue of Datamation (p. 18) reports on a new study entitled "Key Human Resources Issues for 1990's," conducted by the consulting firm Zawacki and Associates. More than 200 Information Technology Directors participated. Some results follow. Key Human Resources for the 1990's 1988 New Rank Rank · Acquire a stronger business orientation 1 1 · Develop skills as facilitators rather than system developers 2 4 · Recruit personnel with skills for IS environment of future 3 3 · Retrain personnel in new skills & techniques 4 6 · Encourage managers to be business people 5 2 · Emphasize creativity & innovation 6 5 · Motivate employees in time of slow growth & stability 7 7 · Train employees in communication & behavioral skills 8 8 · Develop better measures of performance 9 9 · Acquire technical specialists 10 10 New skills will be needed to provide better support and service to the users. It will take cooperative effort before the line between administrative and administrative applications disappears.
This article originally appeared in the 11/01/1995 issue of THE Journal.