A Vision of Information Technology at Illinois Wesleyan 

The use of information technology at Illinois Wesleyan University should support the university’s educational mission and community values. Information technology should support and enhance, not replace, face to face teaching and learning. It should be used not only to provide ready access to information and to extend the space of intellectual inquiry within and beyond the classroom, but also to foster those qualities and practices central to a liberal arts education, such as creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, academic inquiry, open and civil communication, and interdisciplinary collaboration. Information technology must not be allowed to isolate individuals, but should be used to promote a sense of belonging to the Illinois Wesleyan community, its many smaller communities, and the world beyond the campus. As an institution of teaching and learning, Illinois Wesleyan must not merely use technology but enhance awareness of how it can be used responsibly and ethically.

PRINCIPLES FOR INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY DECISION MAKING
  • Be aware always, early followers usually. The Illinois Wesleyan community should maintain awareness of current developments in information technology and higher education. In general, the university should maintain an “early follower” stance towards adoption of technology, although there may be times when taking risks on an advanced technology or eschewing the latest trend might be appropriate.

  • Involve the community. Information technology decisions should respect Illinois Wesleyan’s tradition of shared governance. Wherever possible, input should be sought from all constituencies affected by a technological change.

  • Pursue best practices. Illinois Wesleyan should neither avoid technology nor adopt it for its own sake, but should strive to determine the best practices in all endeavors — from teaching and learning to governance to administrative and support services — and use information technology where doing so accomplishes the university’s mission most effectively or efficiently. Wherever possible, information technology should be used to streamline administrative processes.

  • Recognize values issues. Because technological decisions often have implications for issues such as plagiarism, copyright infringement, and harassment, values issues should be addressed from the very beginning of the decision making process.

  • Safeguard privacy and security. Security and privacy considerations must not be overridden by the goal of providing ready access to information.

  • Ensure access. Technology decisions should consider issues of access for those of diverse abilities and cultural and economic backgrounds.

  • Buy and tweak, don’t build. Administrative and course software should be purchased off the shelf and customized to whatever degree necessary, rather than being developed on site. Administrative practices may need to be altered to suit the available software.

  • Anticipate resource needs. As much as possible, all the costs of technology, including renewal, support, and training, should be anticipated in planning both technological and programmatic changes.

  • Consider cost effectiveness. Decisions about information technology should consider cost effectiveness.

  • Upgrade and maintain. Information technology is a vital part of the university’s infrastructure and must be maintained and upgraded.

Excerpt from the "Report on the Starved Rock Retreat on Information Technology at Illinois Wesleyan University" -- a TLTR sponsored retreat of selected faculty and administrators, June 11 & 12, 2001.