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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

Development Plan Portfolio Documentation
Study a real life situation in the context of these theories. Document the real life case study, reflecting on the application of these theories to the workplace.

Outline

  1. Introduction
  2. Preparation
  3. Strategy
    1. Deans' Council
    2. Interviews With Deans
    3. Word Processing Survey
    4. Survey Results and Recommendations
    5. Discussion and Approval

1. Introduction

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:

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.

  1. 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?
  2. 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?
  3. For those currently using WordPerfect, what motivates them to continue to prefer WordPerfect and resist the change to Microsoft Word?

2. Preparation

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.

3. Strategy

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.
  1. Meet with the Deans' Council
  2. Interview each of the Deans as a follow up to the Deans' Council
  3. Survey the campus about word processing preferences and needs
  4. Analyze the results and the survey and prepare a recommendation
  5. 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 period.

School/College Dean Phone Appointment
Affiliations and Extensions Charles Tidwell 6160 03-Sep 11:30
Architecture Carey Cascallen 6250 04-Sep 11:00
College of Arts and Sciences Bill Richardson 3411 30-Aug 09:30
College of Technology Wes Schultz 3414 04-Sep 01:30
School of Business Administration Ann Gibson 3632 30-Aug 10:10
School of Education Jim Jeffery 3577 04-Sep 08:30
School of Graduate Studies Jerry Furst 6701 05 Sep 09:00
SDA Theological Seminary John McVay 3537 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 the responses.

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 Computing Committee.

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.
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Created: Sunday, February 20, 2000 06:01 PM
Last Modified: Thursday, January 8, 2004 12:38 PM