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6. A competent scholar with a working knowledge of:
(b) Theories of learning and human development
6b2 Application to a real life case study
a real life situation in the context of these theories.
the real life case study, reflecting on the application of these theories
to the workplace.
- Deans' Council
- Interviews With Deans
- Word Processing Survey
- Survey Results and Recommendations
- Discussion and Approval
Something that has always intrigued me is the intensity of the loyalty and attachment
that humans can have towards their favorite computer technologies.  Some individuals
become quite passionate and even heated in defense of their preferences.
Examples of technologies that cause a high degree of polarization between groups
of users include the following:
- UNIX versus Microsoft Windows
- Macintosh versus PC
- WordPerfect versus Microsoft Word
I want to apply theories of thinking and learning, motivation, and the development
of ideas, conclusions and opinions to the use of word processing software by
academic administrators at Andrews University.  In particular, I want to
apply the theories to how their favorite word processor came to occupy that
position and to understand the basis for their opposition to change.
- How did administrators at Andrews University come to learn to use
word processing software in general and their preferred word processor in
particular? What was the learning process they went through as they
acquired expertise in the packages they chose?
- What decision processes did they go through as they choose the packages
they adopted? What were their reasons and motivations for making the
choices they made?
- For those currently using WordPerfect, what motivates them to continue
to prefer WordPerfect and resist the change to Microsoft Word?
By mid 2002, staff in ITS began hearing that rumors were circulating around campus
declaring that ITS no longer supported WordPerfect. While it is true that
we had been collecting information on an informal basis about interest in Microsoft
product training, there had been no change in the level of support for any of
the software traditionally supported by ITS. So that we could correct this
rumor, the Academic Vice President, Dr. Pat Mutch, invited Dan Widner, ITS Director
of Client Services, and myself to a Deans' Council to to talk about software support
in general, support for WordPerfect in particular, and to outline a process for
planning for the future of Office Suites at Andrews University. There had
been discussions a year or so earlier in the Academic Computing Committee and
in the President's Cabinet, but no action had been taken at that time. However,
it seemed that the time was right to raise the question again.
As Dan and I prepared for the meeting with the Deans, and in the weeks that followed
that meeting, we came up with a five-point strategy.
- Meet with the Deans' Council
- Interview each of the Deans as a follow up to the Deans' Council
- Survey the campus about word processing preferences and needs
- Analyze the results and the survey and prepare a recommendation
- Present the recommendation to the campus for discussion and approval
3.1 Deans' Council
Dan Widner and I met with the Deans on July 2, 2002. I had prepared notes
for myself, most of which we covered in the meeting. We explained that the
rumors about dropping support for WordPerfect were untrue, defined what we mean
by the term "support". We talked for a while about market share
and its impact on the word processing preferences of incoming students and new
faculty and staff, as well as on electronic communication formats with other institutions.
Then we talked about the approach we should take for planning the future, and
in particular, plans for Microsoft Word training.
Both Dan and I felt that there was some tension in the room as we began our
presentation, and in parts of the discussion, such as on market share and future
plans, it was clear that some Deans held negative feelings towards ITS over
our assumed role in the debate. The tension at times bordered on hostility.
I met with Pat Mutch shortly after this meeting with the Deans, and asked her
why both Dan and myself observed this tension. Her explanation made a
lot of sense. The rumors that had been trickling up to the Deans suggested
that ITS had unilaterally decided that Andrews University was now a Microsoft
campus and that we no longer supported WordPerfect. Of course, there was
no truth in the rumors, and Pat assured me that the meeting had been very helpful
in making that clear.
Fortunately, we were able to trace one of the rumors to its source, and explain
how the misunderstanding in that instance had arisen. A department chair
had reason to reinstall all his software and data on his computer, and decided
that while he was at it, he might as well upgrade his WordPerfect licence from
version 9 to the latest version, version 10. ITS Client Services had reviewed
the new version, and for Windows 98 or 2000 machines, they had found no benefits
in the new version apart from an enlarged spelling dictionary. So they
were advising those who requested the upgrade that it was not worth the $120.
Unfortunately, the student worker involved in this case used a poor choice
of words to explain this. What he said came across as, "No, ITS does
not support WordPerfect any longer." So we were very glad to be able
to clear up that misunderstanding, and to discover again the ongoing need for
technical and customer service training for our staff and students.
While we were talking about market forces, some of the Deans made a very strong
argument for continuing the use of WordPerfect at Andrews in spite of market
trends. This is how the argument went. Our affiliate schools use
WordPerfect for communications with us, so we have a continuing need to read
and write in WordPerfect format. Cost for obtaining Microsoft software
are higher, and since many of these schools are in third world countries, it
would be wrong for us to require them to switch to Microsoft Word. Then
I suggested that our response to this would be that we would have to keep WordPerfect
in the Affiliates and Extensions office, but that would have no impact on directions
we should take in the rest of the campus. The Deans answered that interaction
with our affiliates takes place all across campus, so we could not really withdraw
support for WordPerfect at all.
After the meeting, Dan and I decided that we should investigate the possibilities
of acting as a purchasing resource for the affiliate schools, and that we should
contact each of them to see if there was any way we could help them with improved
pricing, vendor relationships, or support. Dan's office discovered that
US law prohibits any kind of export or distribution of software outside the
US. In the meantime, I had obtained a list from the Affiliations
and Extensions office of all the current affiliates of Andrews University.
I also asked about the word processing format that is used in each institution,
and was very surprised at the answer. Although the preference in the Affiliations
and Extensions office is unreservedly for WordPerfect, all documents have to
be converted to Word format before they can be mailed as attachments, because
the affiliate institutions cannot read WordPerfect. This is a very
clear example of wrong thinking that was based on bad data or incorrect perceptions.
So this argument for keeping WordPerfect as actually an argument for switching
to Word. Another argument we had been given during one of our preliminary
surveys was that since Andrews is a General Conference institution, and since
the GC uses WordPerfect, then we have to use WordPerfect at Andrews. Well,
firstly, Andrews is not bound by what the GC does in this area. But if
this had been a valid argument, it too was based on bad data. The GC officially
changed to Microsoft Word in October, 2000, so this argument has also been turned
on its head.
3.2 Interviews With Deans
As I was making preparations for meeting with each of he Deans following our meeting
with them in July, I began to be troubled over how to approach the question of
our affiliates and the word processor they used, since this had been used by the
Deans as a major argument in favor of keeping WordPerfect on campus. So
I wrote about my concerns in an email to Pat Mutch with
a copy to the President, Dr. Niels-Erik Andreasen. In a meeting with the
President shortly after this, he said that the important thing was to remember
that ITS is a service organization, and to be responsive to the needs of the campus.
He assured me that the approach I was taking was the right one, and that it would
be seen to be so by the campus.
I was able to make appointments to meet with all the Deans within a 3-4 day
|Affiliations and Extensions
|College of Arts and Sciences
|College of Technology
|School of Business Administration
|School of Education
|School of Graduate Studies
||05 Sep 09:00
|SDA Theological Seminary
||04 Sep 03:00
I prepared a series of questions to ask the Deans as I met with them, but I
used them only informally. I made notes of the interviews and tabulated
3.3 Word Processing Survey
I wrote an email message early in the second week of
September to invite all Andrews faculty, staff and administrators to take the
Word Processing Survey. It was sent out by University Relations and unfortunately,
it was sent as a digest of "Important Departmental Announcements" with
the ITS invitation buried in the middle. A little fewer than 100 respondents
had completed the survey by the end of the week, so I decided to write a second
email as a reminder. We were offering the chance to win a prize of $100
to spend in the ITS Computer Store, and wanted this to be in the subject line
(I wrote: Last Chance to Win $100 from ITS). I also wanted the sender to
be me hoping more people would read the message. As a result of the reminder
message, we doubled the number of respondents.
Here is the Word Processing Survey. Respondents
had to log on using their regular Andrews username and password, so that each
respondent could be entered in the drawing for the $100, and so that each person
could register their opinions only once.
Reports Analyzing Survey Data
3.4 Survey Results and Recommendations
I had arranged to meet with faculty in the School of Business on September 19,
just before the survey closed, so I prepared a preliminary
analysis for that meeting. I also arranged to meet with the chairs of
the College of Arts and Sciences on September 25, and took a more
complete report to that group.
3.5 Discussion and Approval
I took the draft recommendations that I prepared to my managers in ITS for
review, then to the two computing committees and finally to the President's
Cabinet for final approval.
3.5.1 ITS Managers
On Tuesday, October 29, the ITS managers worked on a draft discussion document I had prepared, and refined it for presentation at the computing committees.
3.5.2 Academic Computing Committee
On Wednesday October 30, I presented the revised document to the Academic Computing Committee with a recommendation to adopt Microsoft as the officially supported Office Productivity Suite for Andrews University.
3.5.3 Administrative Computing Committee
On Tuesday, November 5, I presented the report, with revisions, to the Administrative
3.5.4 President's Cabinet
I had hoped to have a recommendation approved by both the computing committees
to bring to the Cabinet, but more times was needed for discussion. On Monday,
November 11, I presented the report in its current form to the President's Cabinet.
3.5.5 Academic Computing Committee
On Wednesday, November 20, I presented the latest
revision of the report to the Academic Computing Committee again. I
was given a much kinder reception this time, but the committee was still not ready
to take any action based on what I presented.
Return to 6(b) Theories of learning and human development
Created: Sunday, February 20, 2000 06:01 PM
Thursday, January 8, 2004 12:38 PM