Future Technology: The University of Phoenix Workplace & Classroom
In 1976, Dr. John Sperling founded University of Phoenix (UOP) and made a commitment to provide working adults with local higher education options at convenient class times. Today, students study at more than 200 locations, as well as through online programs available in countries around the world. Not only will adult learners attend classes that are convenient for them, they will earn their degree on their terms, with the help of educational technology (UOP, 2012). Higher education can open many doors. However, overcoming the demands of family and work to focus on education can be a challenge. University of Phoenix helped pioneer many of the conveniences that many students now enjoy -- evening classes, flexible scheduling, continuous enrollment, a university-wide academic social network, online classes, a digital library and computer simulations. In addition, the University has 20 years of experience in online education -- a kind of education that's research-proven to be just as effective as conventional instruction (UOP, 2012). Hence, UOP paves the future with virtual classrooms and virtual offices.
Technology at UOP
Changes in technology continue to alter possibilities for learning and create new challenges for pedagogy. Over the last two decades, colleges and universities adapted and responded to the Internet, email, chat and instant messaging, course management software, podcasts, personal digital assistants (PDAs), and much more. The growing use of mobile technology at colleges and universities is the most current trend forcing educators to evaluate the merits and limitations of a new technology. Education is a future-facing activity. Assumptions about and aspirations for the future underpin all levels of educational activity: from learners deciding what to study in the light of their aspirations for their future lives, to national debates over the curriculum and teaching methods that will best equip societies for future social, economic and cultural worlds. From discussions of national strategy, to day-to-day interactions between educators and learners, ideas about possible futures are instrumental in rationalizing and generating educational change.
Educational technology plays an important role in distance education system. The educational technology research ?eld has been at the heart of debates about the future of education for the last quarter century. By adapting new communication educational technologies in distance educational programs, UOP's quality could be ensured. Instructions conducted through the use of technologies, which significantly or completely eliminate the traditional face-to-face communication between teacher and students lead to distance education. Today, media such as computer, artificial satellites, digital libraries, telephones, radio and television broadcasting and other technologies are presenting their potential for the purpose. Audio, video, and print materials provide the base while internet is becoming cheap, fast and effective medium. Immense resources are already available on the web. Hence, the future of technology will challenge the current organization around the unit of the individual, the school and the discourses of the knowledge economy, and will require the development of new approaches to curriculum, cross-institutional relationships, workforce development, and decision-making.
In addition, UOP technology is revolutionizing the field of distance education and virtual offices via telecommuting. So in the future, positive changes can be apprehended. Technology is embedded in society's culture, and employees and students are immersed and dependent on it as well. It changes so rapidly and has such a pervasive impact that it is actually determining society's culture. Since technology is an important factor in distance education and in the workplace, UOP uses four types of media namely print, audio, television, computers for teaching and communication purposes (UOP, 2012). Insomuch, employees and students are accustomed to media in one technological form or another.
Distance education is a field of education that focuses on pedagogy/andragogy and the technology incorporated in delivering education to students who are not physically "on site" to receive their education (de Winter et al., 2010). Instead, teachers and students may communicate asynchronously by exchanging printed or electronic media, or through technology that allows them to communicate in real time. Hence, UOP has embraced the use of technology in the workplace via telecommuting and in distance education (Skype, teleconferencing, e-mails, mobile devices, blackboards, etc.…), thus emerging as a viable and vital force in technological delivery system within higher education. The practice of distance education has dramatically changed since the early 1990s. Educators are using technology to increase the distant learner's access to the local classroom, to improve access of all learners to resources, and to make the experience of the remote student comparable to that of the local learner. Much of the growth comes from a rapidly growing demand for educational opportunities directed toward and designed for some specific target groups. Distance learning activities are designed to fit the specific context for learning, the nature of the subject matter, intended learning outcomes, need and goals of the learner, and the learner's environment & instructional technologies methods. Additionally, virtual offices are becoming mainstream, as a cost-cutting effort.
Effects on Organizational Behavior
Since virtual classrooms and virtual offices are different modes of conducting business and classes, different skills are required that lead toward success. In this context, the first one is the ability to use the media. For example a student of distance education or virtual employee, who wants to benefit from the web must know the use of computer at first hand, in order to discover quality content. Second, independent study and work skills are critical. Activities such as time management, personal engagement, and peer group support comes under this umbrella. Virtual classrooms and virtual offices are not for everyone because the focus of responsibility and accountability shifts to the student from the teacher and shifts to the employee from the manager. Students or employees who work independently, who are excellent time managers, who are comfortable with the technology, and who do not feel a strong need for face-to-face interaction with instructors, students, or fellow employees can succeed in a virtual world. Therefore, independent study skills are equally important as media skills.
Educational technology consists of all modern media, methods, and materials and needs to be used in a well-integrated manner of maximizing the learning experiences of students at various levels. It implies a behavioral science approach in teaching and learning and makes use of relevant scientific and technological methods and principles developed in psychology, sociology, linguistics, communication and other related areas (Green, 2012). It further seeks to incorporate the management concepts of cost effectiveness, system approach and the efficient deployment and utilization of human as well as material resources. It helps in optimization of educational outcomes through the development application and evaluation of systems, methods, and techniques in the field of teaching and learning. It is not the electronic media only; it is a part of the whole and one of the components that constitute educational technology. Moreover, technology in the virtual office and virtual classroom has the responsibility of following functions:
the notice board, the public tutorial, the individual project free flow discussion the structured seminar, peer conferencing collective database group products community decision making and (10) inter-community network.
Effects on Leadership
UOP utilizes a transformation or situational leadership approach with its employees and students. It is flexible and adaptable to the needs of its users. Transformational leadership is a more humane leadership theory, as compared to the militaristic transactional theory. It believes in inspiring employees to do great work through example and the force of a leader's personality. This theory believes that people rise higher through positive motivation, than negative motivation (Elliott, 2011). Importantly, employees and students will mirror the culture established by its leaders. Therefore, if UOP is innovative with technological efforts, the virtual workplace and virtual classroom will attract employees and students who are dynamic in nature. Each medium and each technology for delivering it has its own strengths and weaknesses. One of the worst mistakes an organization or an instructor can make it to become dogmatically committed to delivery by a single medium. Hence, there are four fundamental characteristics of how technology can enhance the classroom and the workplace (Hearing & Ussery, 2012);
(1) active engagement
(2) participation in groups
(3) frequent interaction and feedback and (4) connections to real-world contexts.
Weaknesses And Strengths Of Applying Technology
Everything has its strengths and weaknesses. However, technology has the following advantages:
Accessibility and flexibility to be used anytime, anywhere.
Less costs as far as internet facility is concerned
Broader view of possibilities for the use of technology.
There are unlimited resources in the context.
Use of technology to literate people through computer.
Supportive in students achievement
Improve professional abilities
Fulfill special needs
Encourage continuing education
Provide workforce skills
On the other hand, there are also some problems, which are faced with the use of technology such as:
High cost of technology.
Mostly people are unfamiliar with technology.
Problems with technology such as server down, internet connection failures, individual problems etc.
A recent EDUCAUSE report revealed a stunning increase in college-age students using mobile technology, such as smart phones: from 1.2% in 2005 to 62.7% in 2010 (Smith &…