Page 42 - Campus Technology, May/June 2020
P. 42

Ready for Anything
with Internet Technology?
Aim High.
With colleges and universities moving nearly all campus processes online, a persistent question has emerged: Are we really able to carry on the best values of higher education through our online presence?
By Mary Grush
THE INTERNET HAS BEEN THERE to help us through these recent weeks, when virtually all colleges and universities have been impelled to conduct academic and business processes online for our health and safety amid the hazards of COVID-19.
Dedicated IT professionals scurried to assist teaching faculty, from those who already “have it covered” to others who had been trying to ignore online opportunities for years. It will be a while before we’re able to reflect on how we’ve coped. But a persistent question has emerged already: Are we really able to carry on the best values of higher education through our online presence?
Gardner Campbell, an associate professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and a recognized analyst and visionary in technology for education, considers the question.
Campus Technology: During this time when institutions really must function primarily online, is higher education stepping up to the plate, not only in business processes, but also to maintain and promote our higher values?
Gardner Campbell: Higher education has not only the opportunity, but also the responsibility to uphold what you are calling “values.” And I don’t think that word is empty, trivial or superficial.
Like any word, it can become a cliché, or be used for certain kinds of agendas, but ask any moral philosopher: The word “values” is a crucial word. Because in our lives we make choices, and those choices are inevitably based on values. When we make our choices, it’s best if we are making them with as full an understanding as possible of why we are making those choices.
CT: Is this something to consider in the context of how higher education sustains itself through this pandemic?
Campbell: In an ordinary time, these kinds of considerations — our core values — can seem very lofty or be taken for granted. In a time like the one we are living in right now, they seem, to me, to be absolutely fundamental and strategic.
We tend to put off thinking about these fundamental values. There’s always a long list

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