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Information Technology and Staff Development: Issues and Problems Related to New Skills and Competence Acquisition.

This article highlights the problems related to the development of professionals involved in the field of educational technology, defining a series of new professional roles, skills, and competencies acquired to respond to the job market demand in this field. A referential model for the staff involved in the development of networked-based courses or activities is also defined in the course of this article to cover all the necessities of a networked-based course development.

It has become evident that there is a need to help teachers and operators of Information Technologies use technology effectively. Not only do they need to become proficient as users and acquire new technical skills, but they also need to learn to use the technological means efficiently as an educational tool (Giuli Pettenati, Baldini, & Palmisano, 1999; Pettenati, Giuli, Baldini, & Palmisano, 1999). This means that they have to invest time and resources, in order to master technologies and effectively accomplish instructional design. As the teachers are the main promoters of any innovative activities in education, it is of vital importance to facilitate their efforts to integrate new technologies into their work. The emergence of a complex electronic communications and information environment for learning and research is bringing into focus new roles for the services and staff with responsibility for promoting skilled use of networked information resources. Not only the delivery of networked courses, but als o the approach to the design of courses supported by the Information Technologies (IT) is rather different than is followed in a conventional training course.

According to Levy, (1997) of the Department of Information Study of the University of Sheffield, the learner support in a networked learning environment required a broad professional development framework for information staff likely to be involved in developing online approaches. She adopted the term networked learner support (NLS) (Fowell & Levy, 1995) to denote computer-mediated approaches to reference assistance, user education and skills training for users of electronic information resources. She suggested that the new combination of skills required for effective provision of NLS would encompass information and IT expertise, as well as expertise in the educational uses of new information and communication technologies. The approach followed in this article starts from the analysis of the origins of the staff development needed and then to the description of the real market demand of new professionals, then goes on with the analysis of the different phases and responsibilities required to design an IT-sup ported training system to identify the roles, responsibilities, and co-operation involved. Then, a model for the skills development is given as a starting point for academic institutions and private companies, to train their staff to be ready for the demands of the IT society. Even if the purpose of this work was to identify the phases, tasks, and roles for the Instructional Design of a Web-based course, the analysis approach of this article is valid regardless of the technologies used, whether they involve video-conferencing, interactive TV, World Wide Web (WWW or Web), or other technologies.


Unless teachers take the time to get acquainted with the use of technologies, all the good reasons which have been illustrated until now (Owston, 1997), and until a rationale approach is developed, the use of IT in classrooms will stay a sparse, occasional, and a personal choice. Although in Europe we are used to always being behind the level of information technology literacy of western countries, at present the situation of the integration of computer technology in the classrooms is encountering the same obstacles all over the world. Following debates on the Internet newsgroups, it was found that the principle issues of "faculty development" are well synthesized in the following quotations:

These aspects can be summarized in two main classes of problems whose solutions, are respectively the concern of teachers and institutions:

* Teacher related factors:

-lack of time

-computer avoidance

-lack of motivation

* Institution related factors:

-lack of knowledge of IT benefits in the classroom

-necessity to define new "teacher standards" (required skills, related - compensation, etc.)

-lack of continuous development opportunities

-lack of ongoing support

An important issue when dealing with training faculty for the use of new technologies in their education, is the compensation. IT requires extra work for faculty, more responsibilities, and a great deal of extra time. If institutional policy stayed the same, and no support were provided, issues of equity, measurement, quality, cost, and revenue, would become preeminent. There is, in fact, no question that on a course-to-course comparison, a course formatted to be improved by IT features, requires much more time, thought, creativity, and effort than a similar traditional course. For this reason, the role of the faculty has to be re-discussed, introducing new "teacher standards" to define the new tasks as part of the basic teaching load, or as an overload, or as a form of service subject to supplemental compensation. The natural follow up of this trend is the definition of diversified teachers roles, according to the skills and competencies developed. At present, more and more projects around the world are con cerned with faculty development. However, as far as we know, the majority of these projects just give a collection of resources instead of giving the possibility to carry on real activities. We strongly believe that in the phase of faculty development, teachers and tutors should be trained with the new technologies, with proper cognitive activities as they would themselves develop special skills to support students in their turn. Many programs exist, and we have collaborated in developing some of them [1], as well as in delivering seminars and "teacher' day" to make faculty aware of this issue, but the effectiveness of these activities, except for an initial enthusiasm, is useless. For these reasons, the personal commitment of teachers to this theme is not enough; universities and institutions have to support them with special competence centers and invest resources in this direction. The investment in providing faculty with the right answers vary according to many factors such as the expertise, the subject t aught, and the level of integration of IT in the curriculum.


The conception of new educational systems requires a multi-phase project, starting with the conception, and continuing to the implementation and evaluation of the same system. The scheme is similar to the one foreseen for the Instructional Design Model (IDM) (Andrews & Goodson, 1980; Edmonds, Branch, & Mukherjee 1994), whose aim is the realization of the individual or group training. Models for instructional design provide procedural frameworks for the systematic production of instruction. One model can be used for an entire course of instruction or elements of multiple models can be combined. All the instructional design models available in literature, although simple or complex, highlight the necessity of the following phases:

* Analysis (of users' needs, their learning styles, expected objectives, available material etc.),

* Design (of strategies and activities),

* Implementation (of instructional material, instructional strategy etc.), and

* Evaluation (whether final, intermediate, formative or summative).

Clearly, there is no unique way to perform the Instructional Design process, and the "optimal solution" depends on the specific application. In the next paragraph, one possible model for the phases and corresponding roles involved in the development of a Web based educational environment is illustrated. This model is derived from the one proposed by Tim Kilby in his public site [3]. Because of the delivery support, the whole process is conceived to take special care of usability and design.


Table 4 shows the relationship between the tasks (and their aims) to be

accomplished in the IDM of the Web-Based Training, with respect to the professional responsibilities involved. This gives and overview of the complexity of skills required for the successful performing of the project development.

In this example, some professional roles which could be involved in the different development phases are pointed out:

* Project Manager

* Instructional Designer

* System Analyst

* Programmer

* Usability Engineer

* Human Factor Expert

* Cognitive Psychologist

* Subject Content Expert

* Media Designer

* Teacher

It appears evident that some or me defined profiles are general while others are specifically related to the content and to the subject to be taught. What is important to highlight, in this schema is the multidisciplinary approach used for the successful realization of an educational product, regardless of the nature of the technology involved in the process. Since all the roles and responsibilities change substantially from those involved in traditional teaching, the need to create proper curricula, and to develop new skills, becomes prominent.


A common concern has been that suitable staff development and training for Network Learner Support (NLS) is not currently available within many institutions, because of different reasons such as severe resourcing constraints, and lack of strategic planning for NLS at the organizational level. This means that Continuing Professional Development (CPD) needs are not yet being addressed. Within this context, the development of NLS requires new professional skills, partnerships, and role-perceptions on the part of a wide range of support and academic staff. The task is complicated by the fact that it is not a simple matter to identify one homogeneous group of staff across the sector for whom training for NLS should be targeted. For information staff, computing staff, and new "hybrids" between the two, NLS was identified as an area of interest for staff in teaching and learning support positions related to promoting the networked learning environment. Thus, continuing professional development for NLS might be targ eted at a very wide variety of staff with different backgrounds and specializations, such as those described in Table 4. The nature of these positions varies substantially, but all have a role in NLS, even if their responsibilities and duties somehow overlap.

The Market Demand of New Professionals

Once these competence areas are identified, it is interesting to analyze how the job market begins to look for new skills and professionals. The following tables illustrate the responsibilities, duties and qualifications of some professionals in Educational Technology fields. These characteristics are those sought by universities and enterprises according to job opportunities available at the time of this writing, in the Internet for five kinds of professionals:

* Instructional Designer

* Educational Technology Librarian

* Web-based curriculum developer

* Head of Media Services

* Tutor

The result of this quick and incomplete overview, is that the market itself is adapting to the integration of IT in education, and the profiles required are more and more qualified and skilled in interdisciplinary domains, from technical, to pedagogical, to managerial. For these reasons the necessity to separate the roles, to affect tasks and functionalities, and to provide efficient development has arisen. An approach is proposed in the following paragraphs.

Required Skills and Competencies

The mix of competencies required for networked learner support indicates that the functions need to be shared among a team with complementary skills, which cross current boundaries between libraries and computing services, and between libraries and academic departments. Bringing these functions together is essentially a matter of redefining and reorganizing expertise to support learning and research through collaborative relationships working in the new and flexible educational space (Levy, 1997). It is clear, therefore, that learner support-roles are changing in response to network user needs, and new roles are emerging in many parts of institutions to support both staff and students. While information support for networked teaching and learning is central to the library's role, it is clear that information support-issues, including Continuing Professional Development, need to be seen within the wider, multi-disciplinary and converging context of institutional support for networked learning. According to wh at has been presented in paragraph four, and on wider studies and interviews in the educational technology domain, the skills to be acquired for the NLS support can be grouped in four categories:

* Information Technology expertise: to enable development of open learning materials

* Information expertise: corresponds to the specialization in the use and evaluation of networked information resources

* Educational skills for the networked learning environment: is related to the pedagogical skills relevant to the facilitation of open learning communication skills, instructional design and tutoring, curriculum design skills

* Team-work and change-management: corresponds to particular understanding and skills required for multidisciplinary team-work


The main idea is to conceive a modular training tool (Giuli et al., 1999; Pettenati et al., 1999), open and accessible also at a distance, to train the staff in the activities of conception, realization, delivery, and evaluation of information technology-based courses. The model proposed here [4] envisages two kinds of access to the training programs: one in which the knowledge is accessible through a thematic organization, adaptable to the individual progress and variations. The second type consist of a "job" organization, to let trainees explore the knowledge through a professional on-the-field practice (Weidenfeld & Leclet, 1998). Among all the professionalities mentioned, this schema of modular training foresees the development of five kinds of professional specialized in the use of IT:

* Teachers and Tutors

* Programmers

* Technicians

* Managers

As is shown in Figure 1, the access to the formative modules is in a sequential way as shown by the arrows in the figure. When the competencies acquired with a module are already possessed and certified, access to the following modules is allowed. This program was conceived to offer the acquisition of competencies both in an isolated domain (technical, pedagogical, or management), or in a multidisciplinary domain. The modules accessible to all participants are organized to "equalize" the knowledge level in the educational technology field, in order to let trainees easily cooperate in the following "on the field" stages.

As shown in Figure 1, the formative modules give professionals the opportunity to acquire new skills to perform the design and delivery of network-based instructional material. In this sense, they will become respectively:

* IT Faculty and Tutors

* Instructional Designers

* IT System Technicians

* IT Project Managers

The persons involved in the courses can follow a personalized path, depending on their knowledge. The modules will cover the following aspects:

* Computer science technology background: this module is accessible by teachers to give them a basic knowledge of technology and to free them from the "computer avoidance" feeling.

* Networked learner support: this module offers teachers the required skill to support the learner through the phases of curricula design and course access according to the competencies described in Table 6.

* Techniques for media development: this module is designed for programmers to let them develop the required skills to create media suitable for the instructional program as described in Table 7.

* Educational technologies: this is a module for technicians encompassing the knowledge in telecommunication and technologies, which can be used for education. The content aims at the acquisition of some of the competencies described in Table 5.

* Instructional design: addresses all professionals to give them some of the competencies described in Table 5, basic concepts of pedagogy and elements on evaluation and tutoring without focusing on the use of technology.

* Information technologies for education: this is a collective module, addressed to all participants, to equalize the level of IT knowledge, and set the stage for uniform collaborative team-work.

* Teaching methods and techniques: this module mainly addresses teachers and trainers and gives the required skills for the delivery of the IT based courses.

* IT-instructional design: addresses those who will become the Instructional Designers, (Table 5), focusing on the use of the available technologies.

* System techniques and methodology: this is addressed to system managers, to train them for the technical competence concerning the use of the whole technical educational system.

* If-system management: this is addressed to those who will become the IT-project managers, to train them for the competence described in Table 8.

* Interdisciplinary team-work: this is a module addressed to all the team, for real project development in a multidisciplinary context.

It is necessary to point out that this process of skill development is a schema, which can be further modified or adapted to match the specific requirement of the academic institutions or of private companies. The module contents themselves are to be defined in a collaborative environment, encompassing technical, pedagogical, and management aspects and based on the users' background level. Not only are the techniques to be used to be taught, but also the aspects of cognitive processes and methodologies are to be accounted to insure a successful program.


Preparing faculty for teaching in a variety of technology settings with a variety of communication media requires both common and unique methods. While traditional faculty roles have included course conceptualization, course delivery, course management, and evaluation, it is not necessary that all faculty perform all these tasks. Collaborative efforts, focused on differentiated staffing emphasizing individual strengths may indeed be one advantage of technology-facilitated education. Moreover, too many expectations for faculty, without appropriate training and support, can create a significant barrier to faculty use of technology. From the review of some available faculty development systems, it clearly stands out that there is still a need for well organized, living, interactive environments, where teachers are encouraged and supported in becoming technology-users, able to retrieve pertinent information, and able to set up and organize effective instructional activities and resources. Faculty should particip ate as learners, observers, and active practitioners in setting the educational strategies, then contribute information or lessons, to go through all the steps involved in the instructional design. However, such a system cannot be the result of private initiatives; institution should provide convenient and supportive faculty development opportunities aimed at high quality educational experiences. The discussion in this article led to identifying some new skills and roles required to perform effective activities in educational technology. These new roles have already found their professional opportunities in the new emerging job market, as is seen by the presence of the job opportunities in the IT field already available on the Internet. In this article, the issues of staff development for the use of IT in education was also discussed, this has proven to be an essential starting point for the educational technology applications. The argument has led to a referential model for the staff involved in the developm ent of networked-based courses or activities. This model highlights a schema of potential modules to train a team following a scheduled time-line. The aim of this training is to cover all the necessities of a networked-based course development, including real team-work and on-the-field experiences.


(1.) FACILE EU project,, TRIO-TELEFOR Tuscany regional project.

(2.) Web Based Training site,

(3.) This training program has been implemented from January 2000 to March 2001 in the framework of TRIO-TELEFOR Tuscany project, and it has been developed in collaboration with the University of Educational Sciences in Firenze, Italy.


Andrews, D.H. & Goodson, L.A., (1980) A comparative analysis of models of instructional design. Journal of Instructional Development, 3(4), 2-16.

Edmonds, G.S., Branch, R.C., & Mukherjee, P. (1994). A conceptual framework for comparing instructional design models. Educational Research and Technology, 42(2), 55-72.

Fowell, S., & Levy, P. (1995). Developing a new professional practice: A model for networked learner support in higher education. Journal of Documentation, 51(3), 27 1-280. [Online]. Available: 1995/sep/4.html

Giuli, D., Pettenati, M.C., Baldini, L., & Palmisano, E. (1999, May). Deployment of new professions for NICT based training. In the 10th EAEEIE, (pp. 42-47), Capri, Italy.

Levy, P. (1997). Continuing professional development for networked learner support: Progress review of research and curriculum design. In the second International Symposium on Networked Learner Support, New services, roles and partnerships for the on-line learning environment, Sheffield: England. [Online]. Available: http:f/

Owston, D.R. (1997). The World Wide Web: A technology to enhance teaching and learning? Educational Researcher, 26(2), 27-33.

Pettenati, M.C., Giuli, D., Baldini, L., & Palmisano, B. (1999, August). Management and skills development of professional roles involved in distance learning. In NLT '99--2nd International Conference on New Learning Technologies, Berne, Switzerland.

Weidenfeld, G., & Leclet, D. (1998). Open and distant training to multimedia for trainers and teachers. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education, (pp. 95-98). Washington, DC. [Online]. Available:

Table 1

Anne Jolly's Opinion

I do know teachers who regularly attend workshops and take coursework to learn how to use computers effectively in their classrooms. Some of these courses are good, some are hopelessly outdated, but in either case, no follow-up is provided. If the idea is to impact teaching and learning, then one-shot courses are simply not sufficient to prepare teachers to change the way they teach, especially as they are in the process of teaching. Keep in mind that little technology actually available in most classrooms. In only a few schools is someone available on-site to assist with technological glitches, much less provide quality assistance into incorporating technology in a meaningful, appropriate way into the curriculum being taught, which is, after all, the real purpose for using the computers in school. The worst culprit to the utilization of technology in the classroom, however, is the issue of time. Teachers generally teach all day, no time to plan or prepare.

Anne Jolly - ITFORUM participant -

Table 2

John Pate's Opinion

In the past 10 months I have worked with over 70 school districts throughout the state of Illinois and assuming this cross section is a representational group, I estimate that approximately 10% of the public educators show signs of computer anxiety. If nothing else, colleges and universities could step into the gap here, and become a real player in the drive toward higher standards. In the State of Illinois new standards for teachers have been developed that require teachers to use technology in the classroom. We could get there faster with cutting-edge college programs that go beyond traditional coursework, and provide ongoing support and guidance in a systematic manner.

John Pate - ITFORUM participant -

Table 3

Bill Bianchi's Opinion

I don't believe we need a wave of comparative studies: computers vs "Typical classroom teacher," but when introducing anything new, the advocates must explain the benefits of the new product or service. When more time and effort is given to explaining and demonstrating how computer based learning will improve classroom instruction, then problems like computer avoidance will diminish rapidly.

Bill Bianchi -- ITFORUM participant -
Table 4
Tasks & Roles for the Web-based Instructional Design
Task Aim
Analysis of client's need Corresponds to the
 identification of the explicit
 needs of the project,
 and the characteristics
 of the final product
Analysis of the final users Users are classified on
 the basis of their character-
 istics, their background, etc
 in order to choose the
 support, and the kind of
 technology to be used
Technical analysis Definition of technical
 resources and skills
Design of the Interfaces Build interfaces according
 to user-centered approach
Usability testing Assess at different stages
 of the interface design
 and building process, the
 quality of the interfaces
Instructional design Presenting the content in
 such a way to satisfy
 user's needs and relating
 to teaching methods and
 technologies used
Creation of the media Contents realization in the
 different media (text, audio,
 graphics, movies, etc.)
Evaluation and Updating Evaluation of the impact
 and the effectiveness of
 the educational system,
 assessment of the quality
 of the product, corrections
 and revisions
Task Responsibility
Analysis of client's need Project Manager and
 Instructional Designer
Analysis of the final users Project Manager and
 Instructional Designer
Technical analysis Project Manager,
 System Analyst and
Design of the Interfaces Project Manager,
 System Analyst
 and Programmer
Usability testing Usability Engineer,
 Human Factor Expert
 and Cognitive
Instructional design Instructional Designer
 and Subject Content
Creation of the media Instructional Designer,
 Media Designer and
Evaluation and Updating Teacher, Cognitive
 Psychologist, and
 Instructional Designer
Table 5
Instructional Designer Profile
Instructional Designer
Responsibilities & Duties Qualifications
- To provide vision, leadership, - Master's degree, experience
and coordination for the design and in instructional design, the
development of technology-based World Wide Web, distance
educational products, including learning curriculum design,
World Wide Web sites for courses and continuing education.
delivered on and off campus, exten- - Strong computer skills with
sion and outreach educational ability to work and design for
products, and public information. cross-platform applications.
- To work collaboratively as part - Experience in the use of
of a multimedia and Web/instruction instructional technologies and
technology applications development media such as linear and
team. nonlinear computer-based
 teleconferencing, computer
 grpahics and animation,
 presentation systems, and
 digital video and audio
- To refine identified goals and - Experience working in higher
instructional strategies, select education advising faculty and
and develop appropriate curricula, staff on the appropriate use
modules, distance learning of computer-based programs
products, and materials for the
specific needs of target audiences,
- Incorporate contemporary learning
teaching methods and styles,
techniques, and state-of-the-art
instructional technologies into new
curricula for credit and non-credit
- Provide leadership to the Web/ID team in the
techniques and methods of developing curriculum
and instruc tional materials, modules, and units.
- Help prepare estimates, budgets, and costs
associated with Web/JD team projects.
- Assist in the analysis of new and emerging
technologies for instruction, distance leaming,
and other institutional technology needs and
potential applications.
Table 6
Educational Technology Librarian Profile
Educational Technology Librarian
Responsibilities & Duties Qualifications
- Assist faculty in integrating Master's degree, experience in
new strategies for teaching and higher education.
learning using present and emerging - Evidence of highly developed
information and instructional communication, organizational,
technologies (integrating electronic and interpersonal skills
information resources into courses, and the ability effectively
including creating guides, tutorials, convey complex technical
 concepts to lay persons.
and bibliographies). - Educational background
- Encourage, develop, and support or experience in teaching,
faculty projects using multimedia training, and learning styles.
and information technology in Demonstrable record of
classroom teaching. experience in using a range
- Assist curriculum development ofinstructional technologies.
teams in identifying appropriate
information resources, and
participate in the creation and
ongoing development of course and
instructional Web sites
- Identify, evaluate, and recommend
information technology software and
hardware based on user-defined needs
and currently available technology.
- Maintain an up-to-date knowledge
 of the techniques for assessing the
impact of technology use on
teaching and learning, a familiarity
with current research on the
effectiveness of various uses of
Table 7
Web-Based Curriculum Developer
Web-based Curriculum Developer
Responsibilities & Duties Qualifications
- Consult with faculty and - Strong academic background as
academic staff on the development well as technical expertise in
of Web-based curriculum. the use of the Web.
- Assist in the development of - Master's degree in instructional
web-based courses and programs. design/technology Experience as an
- Conduct training for faculty instructional designer, educator,
and staff on techniques and university instructor, trainer or
methodologies of Web-based combination of the above.
curriculum development, Review - Knowledge of instructional
and make recommendations on design principles, distance
current off-the-shelf Web learning methods, Web page design
development products. and production, visual interface
Administer the academic web design, multimedia authoring
site server. tools, and digital graphics,
 audio, and video production.
 - Experience in Web site/Web
 server administration Conclusion
Table 8
Head of Media Services Profile
Head of Media Services
Responsibilities & Duties Qualificatians
- Responsible for library and - Bachelor's degree and an
university instructional advanced degree in a relevant
technology field
- Management of staff in working - Experience in a highly
with university automated automated, technically
information resources, the campus advanced academic environment
Interactive Video Network and - Extensive technical
universitity background
-wide instructional media in computers and media.
equipment delivery, set-up, - Practical experience
training and with audio Video, multimedia,
- Assist faculty in identifying and computers in instruction.
appropripriate uses of technology Knowledge of technical issues
in their instruction.
- Plan, formulate and publicize in telecommunications,
media policies Evaluate current library
and emerging information and media digital media, video and
technologies in order to make sound general audiovisual operations.
recommendations to campus units on
upgrading and adding media equipment.
Table 9
Tutor's Profile
Responsibilities & Duties Qualifications
- Provide advice to end users for - Master's degree and experience
the optimal use of the system and in education
to aid the user to select optimal - Knowledge in learning process
individual curricula. and style
- Support for curriculum development - Extensive technical background
and delivery; liaison and advice to (creation of media, Web searching
academics in the information and and publishing capabilities, use
communication resource aspects of of distance learning technologies)
curriculum design (available - Patience
resources, etc.)
- User education and information/ - A sense of humor
publishing skills training;
information skills training to all
categories of end-user
- Reference enquiry work; online
assistance to users in searching
available curricula, courses,
bibliography and other resources
Guide choices for training employees
and entrepreneurs.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE)
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:professionals involved in the field of educational technology
Publication:Journal of Technology and Teacher Education
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2001
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