Planning Across the Curriculum for Technology
COMMUNICATION DEPARTMENT REPORT
March 8, 2002
Planning Across the Curriculum for Technology (PACT) is an alliance and collaborative
effort between various departments on campus and Information Technology Services
(ITS). Currently the participating departments include Communication, Fine Arts,
Applied Mathematics and Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences. The objectives for
departmental information technology (IT) strategic planning are to:
Produce a “jumping off point” for academic departments to integrate IT into their
research and teaching activity over a period of three to five years;
Allow ITS to better respond to and support the academic activities of the campus;
Allow academic departments to be more active in shaping their IT environment.
Commit resources to implement priorities identified during the process.
PACT developed a process to initiate a continuing dialogue between faculty and IT staff
about IT needs at the academic department level. Additionally, it identifies departmental
needs as a “bottom up” complement to campus-wide strategic planning efforts including:
developing investment and financing strategies; creating the opportunity for individual
faculty members, academic departments, school/college and central service providers to
agree about “who is responsible for what?”; and reengineering the support model to
reflect the various responsibilities.
Over the Fall 2001 semester participating departments engaged in discussions to:
Identify technology goals for students (Answer the question: What IT abilities,
skills, tools, knowledge and competencies do students need to have to complete
their degrees and be ready for their first jobs after graduation?); and
Identify the research objectives and the information technology requirements
including, training and other human and physical infrastructure needed to support
The clarification of these learning and research objectives and technology goals will help
determine the IT investments to be made by each department and identify potential
There are five milestones in the project. First, background data are provided to key
participants with the objective of developing a common understanding between ITS and
the department. These background data will be used to inform departmental discussions
to identify learning objectives and IT skills required by students as well as technology
needs to support research objectives. The third step is to specify the IT investments—
hardware, software, technical support, etc—that should be made over the next three to
five years to most effectively meet the departments objectives. The participants will
prioritize the alternatives, determine alternative financing plans, and agree on who is
responsible for implementing the various parts of the strategic plan (Appendix C).
The Department of Communication committed to integrating technology across the
curriculum in 1999, and has been a valuable resource in developing the PACT process.
Thus, this report updates progress in meeting the goals of this commitment, assures the
continuing dialog between ITS and Comm., and identifies the future vision for the
A key step in developing sound strategic goals is identifying the technology learning
objectives for students in each of the departments. The technology learning objective for
the Department of Communication are listed next on page 3.
Department of Communication
Technology Learning Objectives For Students
The Communication Department commits to educating students for success in a multimedia
society through the study of communication skills and practices, and technology-mediated
communication. Broadly, this commitment:
Provides access and experience with new information and communication
Examines the nature of human interaction with and through technologies
Explores pragmatic and ethical perspectives on technology uses
Develops critical and reflective use of communication and information technologies
1. To be able to apply basic skills to participate in class and complete assignments
a. To be able to use a computer including keyboard skills
b. To be able to use word processing and spreadsheet applications (Microsoft Office
c. To be able to use email, web browsers, and WebCT
d. To be able to conduct effective Internet research
e. To be able to cite Internet resources properly and to assess the quality of
f. To understand the basics of web design and web page editing
2. To be able to effectively incorporate technology into presentations and public
a. To be able to develop and deliver a multimedia presentation
b. To be able to use PowerPoint
c. To be able to integrate graphics, audio and other media into a presentation
3. To be able to use technology tools to conduct research
a. To be able to use online library resources (Chinook, Infotrac) and other research tools
b. How to use data management software (for ex, SPSS or other statistical applications)
c. To be able to use video recording and editing (for ex, Adobe video editing software)
4. To be able to use technology for organizational, group and cultural communication
a. To be able to use groupware--collaboration tools and distributed meeting systems
b. To be able to work with groups online and across institutions (org comm. or
c. To be able to participate in and assess technology assisted collaborative
composition and group decision-making
5. To develop assessment procedures for faculty, students and curricular integration
a. Authorship of internet content
b. Psychological implications and attitudes regarding communications technologies
c. Interactional and relational implications of using communications technologies
d. Societal implications of using technologies
Mission Statement (from department website)
The community of scholars within the Department of Communication examines problems
of human interaction, participation, collaboration, deliberation, and decision-making
across a wide variety of settings. While providing a solid foundation of the traditional
areas of the field of communication, they are committed in our teaching and our research
to spanning the boundaries between interpersonal, organizational, and public
communication. Students completing a BA, MA or PhD degree are encouraged to
synthesize social scientific and humanistic approaches to communication theory,
research, and practice. Through courses, colloquia, guest lectures, and informal activities,
the department encourages both students and faculty to engage current problems of
communication in society.
Program Description (from department website)
The central focus of the discipline is the study of human communication in its many
contexts, from the interpersonal interaction that occurs between friends and family, to the
processes that help organizational groups succeed, to the communication necessary for
effective participation in civic life. Across the discipline, this focus takes different forms.
The Communication Department at CU-Boulder is distinguished by is focus on
examining the nature and processes of interaction, and on the processes of participation,
collaboration, deliberation, and decision-making. Through research, teaching, and
service, faculty and students engage current problems of communication in society.
Department faculty are prominent in their fields, serving as presidents of national and
international associations of communication scholars, editors of influential research
journals, authors of nationally adopted textbooks, and recipients of University-wide
awards for excellence in teaching.
A strong commitment to undergraduate education means that students electing
Communication as their major have the opportunity to study directly with faculty, often
in small seminars, independent studies, or honors work. Graduates of the department are
skillful communicators and thoughtful critics of human interaction. Students at CU
recognize both the quality of their classroom experience, and the importance of
communication for their lives. Consequently, Communication is one of the most popular
majors in the College of Arts and Sciences.
Advanced study in the department offers individuals an opportunity to deepen their
understanding of communication theory and research, and to use that understanding to
address significant problems in contemporary social life. Graduate work at CU is
personalized to meet each student's needs and interests and students and faculty interact
frequently. Students are encouraged to pursue interests that intersect different areas of the
discipline. Graduates of our M.A. and Ph.D. programs have consistently demonstrated
success in both academic and other professional careers.
The department consists of 18 faculty, approximately 800 undergraduate majors and 50
In 1999, the faculty of the Department of Communication committed to a “Technology
Across the Curriculum” (TAC) policy. The policy “envisions an undergraduate
curriculum in which students experience a learning environment that is seamless in its
integration of communication and information technologies with course content”
(Department of Communication, A Proposal for Unit-Level Vision and Commitment to
Uses of Technology in Education). The following initiatives were agreed to:
The development of faculty and instructor skills in the use and evaluation of
communication and information technology
The development of at least one lower level course and two senior-level seminars
focused on issues in technology and human communication
The inclusion of at least one relevant communication technology based
assignment in every undergraduate course.
To achieve the goals set out in the policy, the department implemented a $5 per credit
course fee approved by the students. The policy commits the department to providing
faculty, graduate assistants and undergraduate work-study student time to develop
instruction modules and workshops, to provide personal instruction to faculty, and to
develop assessment procedures. Furthermore, it commits to acquiring technology for
classroom use including the laptop computers, LCD projectors, and for the maintenance
of equipment used in the Communication Observation lab (Hellems 3 and 5), the
Communication Mobile LAN lab, and the technology-enhanced seminar room (Hellems
81). (See Appendix F for details of these facilities)
Media production services have been preparing graphics and digital audio files for the
digital web tutorials also known as SPOTT (Self-paced online technology tutorials).
The Wireless Systems Group has been working closely with Communication to develop
the specifications for the technology-enhanced seminar room that is using wireless
technology. The department and the wireless group are finalizing the Memorandum of
Understanding for the services and responsibilities for this room as well. ATLAS
provided a $15,000 grant to support the development of the seminar room.
There are no open student computing labs affiliated with the Department of
Communication, so there has been minimal interaction with Micro Systems Group
Distributed Academic Technology Coordinator
IDENTIFICATION OF TECHNOLOGY GOALS
An iterative process between the IT faculty committee and ITS was used to both clarify
and focus the learning objectives. Prior to identifying the learning objectives,
background information was provided to participants to help them to think about what is
possible. Background information includes:
An overview of campus-wide IT services and a summary of new initiatives that
indicate where the campus is investing in technology infrastructure during the
next 3-5 years (Appendix A and B)
A summary of IT learning programs at related departments at peer institutions
(Appendix E); and
Relevant articles on technology, teaching and learning.
Once the technology learning objectives were finalized, a series of focus groups was
conducted to determine if current technology investments are meeting the needs of
students. Four focus group sessions were held for lower-division undergraduates, upper-
division undergraduates, and graduate students.
Each of the constituent groups met separately. Undergraduate students provide valuable
perspective on how well the department is meeting its stated mission, goals and
objectives; and what additional IT training or skills would be of interest. Graduate
students offer insight both as students and instructors. Faculty groups critically evaluate
and synthesize the input of students and add the perspective of those who will actually
integrate the IT skills into the curriculum of the department.
Focus group discussion questions for students include:
Describe the current uses of information technology in your department. What
hardware, software and facilities are most important for completing course-related
assignments in your major?
What are the information technology-related learning objectives for the
department? What should they be in the future?
What IT abilities, skills, tools, knowledge and competencies do you need to have
by the time you graduate?
What are your ideas on how to accomplish these objectives?
Do you have any comments on teaching with technology?
Do you have any suggestions to improve the curriculum (what is missing)?
Where do you think technology in your discipline is headed?
These questions are representative of the starting points for focus group discussions. It is
important to develop ad hoc follow up questions during the focus groups that generate a
free-flowing discussion and that encourage the expression of different points of view.
The results of the focus groups are summarized in a written report (Appendix D). The
report identifies common themes that emerged from the focus group discussions. A
faculty committee designated by the department used it to assess the effectiveness of
current investments and for visioning the future direction of the department.
The students desire to learn more about IT, although it is not easy for them to articulate
exactly what they want to know. The student approval of technology course fee supports
this need, but it is important to point out that the need for more IT skills was reiterated in
the student focus group. Furthermore, there is a commitment by faculty to integrate IT
into the curriculum.
There is consistency between faculty and students on the basic technology skills
required—operating a computer, word processing, email, Internet research, and the
fundamentals of web design. Students do not know what existing resources are available
to gain these skills. However, upper division undergraduates were the most aware of
resources of campus. Consistently, students identify making a web page and using
presentational software as their weakest skills.
Students want progressive difficulty in assignments so that the IT skills they learn are
cumulative and move beyond the basics. They suggest hands-on experience incorporated
into classes that require the application of technology to effectively complete a project or
assignment. Based on the focus groups, technology skills do improve from lower
division to upper division undergraduate students (or at least the ability to articulate), but
the skills acquired are not uniformly consistent
Faculty have correctly identified that baseline of shared competencies is a problem. The
challenge will be how to incorporate more advanced skills once the basic skills are
acquired. Both faculty and students are concerned with faculty acquiring the technology
skills needed to effectively incorporate technology skills into the curriculum.
Additionally, access to adequate facilities and equipment, as well as faculty
understanding of the equipment, are essential to successfully integrate technology.
Students want to know what technologies major companies are using, and what are the
real world applications for these technologies.
AREAS OF INVESTMENT
The department is developing a technology enhanced seminar room in Hellems 81. The
purpose is to better coordinate the technology resources of the department and the
interrelated activities it makes possible. The room will be an excellent facility for
identifying effective ways to integrate technology into the curriculum.
Originally scheduled to open fall 2001, it has been delayed pending an agreement for
wireless services. The Communication Department and ITS are finalizing the
Memorandum of Understanding and the expected responsibilities for operation costs.
This seminar room is at the leading edge of technology use, and can be used as a model
for other departments that want to incorporate IT into the curriculum.
The department is using course fees for the development and delivery of SPOTT (Self-
Paced Online Technology Tutorials). The first tutorial being developed is “How to Make
a Website” the second tutorial is on the use of presentation software. These tutorials
meet the most critical demands identified by students in the focus groups.
The department has developed a budget for the personnel needed to develop and maintain
the tutorials. It may be possible for other departments to use these tutorials as a resource
in the future.
As Comm. becomes more sophisticated in its use of technology, it anticipates wanting to
add additional applications. The acquisition of its own server will allow flexibility to
add applications, for example: providing more interactivity on its website, supporting
their digital media needs, offering on-line calendaring, and creating a database backend.
A student intern hired by Comm. is conducting a needs assessment for a new server, and
writing a report on the pros and cons of a department maintained server.
There has been a proliferation of servers on campus, and ITS should identify server
maintenance issues on campus as well as website maintenance needs and concerns.
Currently, faculty maintain equipment that has been purchased by the department.
Additional facilities and equipment have increased the burden of this maintenance. The
department needs additional support personnel to adequately ensure the safeguarding and
coordination of the IT investments.
The campus needs to consider how to efficiently provide support for the increasing
investment in technology by departments.
Peer-to-peer networking for the classroom
Comm. anticipates peer-to-peer networking as the next investment for its technology
enhanced media seminar room.
Now that investments have been identified, the most important vision for the future is to
ensure that they are used frequently and effectively. The goal is to have continuous
activity and to build momentum to keep moving forward. At this point, an ongoing
dialog between the Department of Communication and ITS must continue to outline the
responsibilities to successfully fulfill the goals identified. Additionally, ITS should
provide more information on its future direction to help the department identify where it
should make its investments.
Students—Lauren Alweis, Jessica Bertini, James Bingham, Jason Bitensky, Nicole
Brant-Zawadzki, Laura Bush, Bridget Cowan, Josh Freidfertig, Heather Froelich-
Olmsted, Angela Gilman, Laura Graham, Michael Grosh, Sara Helf, Rigo Hernandez,
Elizabeth Hudson, Matt Ippolito, Kate Larsen, Janet Lee, Meghan Mayhood, Lindsey
Maxon, Ryan McCloskey, Joe McErlane, Travis McNeil, Mike Medina, Allison Meyers,
Keagan Resler, Jennifer Sightler, Daniel Stewart, Kate Treanor, Lexie Wagner, Judy
Wehry, Magui Yordan
Communication—Robert Craig, Alex Heintzman, Michele Jackson, Tim Kuhn, Paul
ITS—Stephanie Duncan, Gary Franz, Jenifer Martin, Barbara McFall