Stanley Chodorow: Thanks Mark. I want to say that as we run through
all these talks, we will have in this session quite a lot of time
to kick things around. Very often when we start thinking about
the introduction of information technology, we say, "God!
If we only had a clean slate!" Well, our next speaker,
Peter Smith, essentially has a clean slate. He is starting a
new university in Monterey--not a bad place I will say to start
a new university--the California State University there, which
is located on Fort Ord, as I remember , and where they are
building a new institution and trying to take advantage of what
is available to them now. Peter.
Peter Smith: Thank you very much, Stanley. I'm going
to be more cursory than I would usually be, and those few of you
who know me will understand that for good reason, because otherwise
I would fracture the time frame of the afternoon. I want to start
with a couple of comments about institutions, and then I'm going
to try to describe the university as we are designing it--and we
are designing it with students, so as one of my faculty members
said, it's a little bit like trying to change the wheels on a
bicycle while you're riding it down hill--and then finish with our
perception about information technology.
First, my own view in shorthand about the role of institutions
period, not just institutions of higher education, is that they
don't have any value unless they add value to that which would
be otherwise available. In other words, an institution, whether
it is a hospital or a profession or a university, is a place that
organizes information, or some other entity or quantity, and makes
it available to people in ways that are useful to them that they
wouldn't get otherwise. And I think what is happening is that
there is this extraordinary increase of information of all kinds--good
information, bad information--and we've sort of had both experiential
and intellectual exposure to that already, that as information
rises around an institution, it necessarily changes the relationship
between whoever the consumer and the goods and services of that
institution. So you see people wanting to now mediate instead
of litigate. You see wellness along with illness. You see the
restructuring of the medical profession, you see governments being
toppled, and we always wonder why politics in America are so filled
with turmoil, when in fact it's happening everywhere. So in fact
I would argue that this is way bigger than any of us who are in
institutions and way bigger than education. And while I can't
assign a particular value to the inevitability of it, unless we're
willing to imagine a future with less information less readily
available, there's going to be a lot more of it before there's
The second observation I would make is that if we were able to
drape some projected data over a Silicon Graphics visualization
technique going forward into the future, I think we would see
a hidden risk for established institutions. And it goes like
this--I'll give you it to you in the California perspective, but
I sense it's probably accurate in much of the country. Some history first.
If, in fact, it is the case that in
the seventies the budgets of higher educational institutions grew
because of the baby boom--in other words students came and brought
money and we did business on volume relatively speaking, spun
off new institutions--then we had the beginning of the bust, but
we continued to ride the good will that we had generated and we
got a lot more money from our appropriating ,where that was parents
or endowments or government, and so we rode that into the mid-eighties.
And then it hit the fan, because people ran out of good will,
and we still didn't have the students.
Now, in California, we have something called "Tidal Wave
II". And as I understand the demographic projections, over
the next 15 to 20 years in this country there will be in fact
a reassuring sort of boomlet of 18 to 22 years olds. They're
going to look a little different, and they're going to be a lot
more diverse, but they're going to be there.
Now, what I think is the trap, if I were the manager of an established
institution, the trap would be that you would take relief from
that projection, and then when the tide goes out again, as it
surely will in the year 2015 or 2020 or 2025, you will find that
there is a whole new industry that has grown up around you and
has left you in its dust. And that
is the industry of life-long learning, what we now think of as
workplace-based education, education for people over 25, as core
business of universities. And so, if I were doing long-range
planning for an established institution, I would try to look out
30 to 50 years. But I think there's a frightening
amount of security for a traditional institution if you look out
the next 15 to 25 years, a frightening amount, that is then going
to be translating into a significant institutional weakness in the
future. So much for that.
Now, I'm going to talk about CSUMB for a minute, and I need to
issue a standard caveat. You've all been to a lot of meetings, and
you've hard people say, "We've got it in" and then fill
in the blank wherever there institution is. I'm not here to tell
you we've got anything. We're a lot like Christopher Robin and
Pooh. We're on the way to rabbit's house. We know where it is,
we're in the woods, and we're struggling mightily to stay someplace
near the path, and luckily it has snowed so we can see our tracks
as we come back around on them again.
Some of our vocabulary. Outcomes. All of our curriculum is
outcome based. It is not all referenced or created, the norms
are not all created to a measurable level by the institution.
We ask students to participate in that process.
Interdisciplinary. We are not organized by departments, and
we are still looking for an appropriate organization. But we
have about 100 faculty doing something that seems to be working,
and right now we call them institutes and centers, and they're
cross-disciplinary. We only know that that's a temporary stop
on the way to someplace else.
Technology. We are technology infused. Every room, every living
room, every office, every classroom is wired. And one of the
advantages we have is you wouldn't see all these unsightly wires
at CSUMB because we had the pleasure of laying the carpet and
renovating the buildings and routing out the floor. So we have
hidden junction boxes all over every room, and we wire from the
outside in, and so it's essentially a matter of where you want
to plug in. And it allows us to pull up and change whatever the
wires are any time we want without having to go through--it's bad
for the tape producers, but it's good for us. Every student has
a computer, every faculty member, every employee, every member
of the staff, even the president has a computer.
We are global. We believe that we are educating people not to
be scholars, although we are thrilled if that's where people end
up, but that we are educating people to live in a world that's
very different from the world they grew up in, wherever they grew
up. And we ask that they know another language when they graduate.
We ask that they have significant experience in a cultural setting
other than the one they grew up in before they graduate. We ask
that they do community service as a graduation requirement for
academic credit, two times if they are with us for four years.
Collaborative. We try very hard, and I use it as a mission statement,
to not duplicate a resource that already exists in the community,
to make partnerships with businesses to get our job done, or with
other non-profits to get our job done. So we will collaborate
with Silicon Graphics or with a local community college or with
a Defense Language Institute or with the University of California
at Santa Cruz and they with us to get whatever the job is done.
Outcomes-based education, having learning requirements and statements
of what people need to know and be able to do before they can
leave, facilitates a far wider variety of pedagogies, places,
settings, and times, because you become more interested in what
people know and are able to show you that they know and are able
to do, then you become interested in where they learned it, how
they learned it, with whom they learned it, etc. So we do that.
Entrepreneurial. We are asked to generate 25% of our budget--30%
of our budget--from sources other than state funds, general funds,
and student fees by the end of our 5th year. So we are forced
into a very different and proactive mode in terms of the production
of educational goods and services--the things our students do,
the things our faculty do, etc., etc.
Learner-centered. That it all begins with learners. Teaching
is an important thing, of course, but that we talk about ourselves
as learner-centered. What are the characteristics of the curriculum
that we're putting together? It's scaleable education by design.
In other words, we can create little tiny modules or great big
modules, we can have students go into the community or put themselves
in a variety of settings. And because of the outcome-based orientation,
we can scale by volume of student or by nature of learning or
by amount of learning by design.
We integrate technology with the workplace in the sense that,
whether the workplace is the university or the workplace is someplace
else, we are always looking for the breaching of the barriers
that historically separate learning places from working places.
As a result there are no perceived spatial boundaries to the
learning or teaching that we sponsor, support or recognize. We
assume that there will be rapid change, even with a faculty tenure
system and a state-wide faculty union. And we assume they will--and
are organized to sustain and respond to rapid change. We believe
in and promote experiential, sponsored and non-sponsored experiential
learning, as well as community-oriented learning. We believe
that it is more than a nice thing for people who say that, whatever
field they want to go into, for them to have significant experience
in those settings with trained people as a result or as a function
of their education. We are committed to having learning outcomes
replace seat time, we are committed to partnerships to make this
all happen, and we believe that diversity of students of workforce
and of experience is in fact a tangible educational asset to which
a value can be ascribed.
...our laboratories. The notion of having
sufficient server capacity so that there isn't a language lab
here and a writing lab here, something else lab here, but you
can access anything on any desktop--in your room or in a place
where there happens to be a collection of computers--in the library,
in the media learning center. And we have distance learning rooms.
I don't think that differentiates us very much. And we have
major server power, and I don't believe that differentiates us
very much either.
In terms of our overall development, as we run along side it
trying to learn, reflect, and do, simultaneously, all the time--I
guess that's what simultaneously means. The first stage has been
to create a culture that is committed to renewal and change, that
is at ease with electronic devices and information devices and
electronic, multi-media technology. And our experience is that
the hardware is secondary. It's a problem, the rate of change
is a problem, the capitalization is a problem, all of that--they're
huge problems. And you know, conversations of 16 versus 32 versus
what platform have you got and what software are you driving and
all the rest--that's very important stuff. But way before that
is having an organizational culture where students and teachers
and faculty members and staff and administrators are at ease with
that thing that is represented by the box that's on their desk.
Secondly, is to create what I would call an infrastructure that
is organized strategically with strategic purpose. So we are
placing tremendous significance on using information technology
and multi-media capacity that we have to assess student performance
and to include students in the compiling, presentation, and
assessment of their own work. We're not there yet. Although
we have people doing it every day, what we haven't got is enough
experience to stand back, look at it, and say what it has meant.
So we work on a high energy, personal model to an organizational
model, and one of our challenges over the next several years is
to get this thing to scale and deal with the issues of scale and
move to an organizational capacity as opposed to what I would
call faculty heroism.
Secondly, there's an environment. The environment prepares learners
for the workplace. We value people's ability to handle ambiguity,
to learn how to reflect, to think analytically, to write well,
to present themselves well, to check their sources, and we in
fact state those as learning outcomes. And so, if you're serious,
in our view, about creating people who can learn throughout life,
then in fact the what they learn has more variability. I have
my own biases, each of us do. But how they learn it, and how
they learn how to look at the information that they're working
with, becomes significantly more important.
We emphasize doing as well as knowing, with the view that you
don't know until you can do most things. We emphasize multi-media
presentations, Web site constructions, and in fact encourage students
when they can't find a resource on the campus that they need to
shop for other resources elsewhere in the world. So the courses
that bedevil some universities, that students haul in and say,
"I did this. What are you going to do about it?" We
just say, "Come and talk to us first about it, and we'll
work it into your portfolio."
We don't graduate students when they have 128 credits. We graduate
students when they can show us that they know when they're able
to do the things that the faculty have said that they need to
know and be able to do in order to graduate. If they can do that
in two years, fine. Reducing seat time to degree or time to degree
is something we've said--we haven't had anybody do it in two years,
but the point is we're not worried by that because we have begun
to separate--this will be one of my major points--separate instruction,
or the learning activity, with assessment. At the end of the
day the coin of the realm is the granting of credit toward the
degree and the granting of the degree. What we're beginning to
do is say that there's a line between the learning side and the
assessing of learning, as you work it, you can work it--we know
the way to work it where the assessment is absolutely connected
to the learning module. We're also saying assessment can also
be separated from that particular learning module, and we are
working with that.
There are four phases that we are some place in the middle of.
Sometimes I think they are simultaneous. The first being to
bring the outside world in, and I mean that. In other words,
we believe to our core that if we hide either our warts or our
successes, if we try to own all the resources, any of those symptoms
which are historic university positions, I believe, that in fact
we weaken ourselves, given the mission that we have. And I think
we weaken ourselves given the nature of what the future is going
Second, part of our entrepreneurial purpose, but it is also an
educational purpose, is that we think students, faculty, administration
alike, in terms of creating products, using them inside the university,
and then if there's utility and wider useability, selling them.
Selling them to other universities. And treating that not as
a marginal, but as a core activity for everybody.
Third, you've got to make it work. Reifying. Growing the values.
Sinking the values into the ground. That this is, in the end
of the day, about people. It is not about machines. Machines
are a tool. I had distance
learning when I was at Princeton University. I was in Alexander
Hall in the fourth row, and I was, I could have been a thousand
miles away from that professor. That's distance learning. And
so this is really, at the end of the day it's about good pedagogy
in appropriate settings. But it's people that will, in the end,
knit it together.
And finally our fourth phase, which we're just beginning to struggle
with, is to recreate the organization continuously based on our
sense from outside organizations, students, faculty, etc. as to
how we're doing on the things that we think are important. That's
part of a culture that we have to build in, and we're working
very hard at doing it.
I've got to close, but I'll tell you why I think things are different
today, beyond just the rise of information. I think there's an
emerging focus and that is changing sort of a dynamic, pell mell,
swirling attitude about telecommunications or information technology,
and I think it's driven by four factors or four forces. First
is the 1996 communications act, second is the NII, third is the
global NII, and forth is the world trade organizations telecommunications
act. And when you look at what that emerging body of law--by the
way, I don't think those of you who represent the hundred research
universities, I will lay money you won't get to do the second
Internet all by yourselves, but I'm going to enjoy watching that
one--but those four forces have in fact changed the context within
which we make policy and operate our institutions, I think. I
think irreversibly, because they have begun to or have erased
the boundaries between what used to be a discreet telecommunications
industry, a computer industry, a peripherals industry, electronic
media, so all those boundaries are down now, and they're down
because it's the law and it's international protocol.
That has extraordinary impact on us. As we look at our initiatives,
we think about the anchors, and we don't think about particular
industries or technologies, we think about ubiquity and the potential
for ubiquity. We think about connectivity. We think about inter-operability.
We think about upgradeability. We don't think about who is peddling
what software because that's just the wrong place to start.
I'll close with an example. We may be the only institution that
is trying to figure out how to get desktop video, have a collaborative
kind of cross-platform capacity so that you can really mix and
match with teaching and learning and assessment and research,
and we may be the only ones. I suspect we're not. And we have
all these folks beating our door down with all the wonderful things
they can do for us for a lot of money, and then what we--we had
a wonderful meeting about a month ago in which we said, "
Your product--do we need it if and when Java script, because
we're Web based, comes on-line?" There's just this incredible
silence in the room. See? Now, my own view of it is that if
we are going to stay beyond the basic kinds of infrastructures,
we have to learn how to look beyond immediate product and look
towards the capacities and the functions that that product will
give us in order to stay ahead of a wave that is moving faster
than any of us at one level are going to be able to surf on.
With that, I'll sit down. Thanks very much again.