In Reed's 1995 grant proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, it was observed that while nearly all faculty members at Reed regularly used computers, fewer than half had incorporated technology into their teaching and the majority of those were in science and mathematics. Opportunities for Reed students outside of those areas to pursue independent studies using advanced technological resources was quite limited. The proposal to the Mellon Foundation was intended to address this situation:
The principal goal of the proposed program is to apply technology to enhance opportunities for independent student scholarship in the arts and humanities, focusing on areas in which instructional technology has thus far had relatively little impact. We seek to combine Reed's strength in cultivating independent student research skills with its unique capacity to infuse advanced technology into new areas of the curriculum. This is not an effort to develop new software products. Rather, we intend to apply Reed's most precious resource, the teaching expertise of its faculty, to identify new ways of using available technology to enhance learning opportunities and make more cost-effective use of faculty and staff time.
The initiative has been extremely successful in extending the use of technology in non-quantitative areas of the curriculum. Seventeen faculty members have directed Mellon projects, introducing materials that have provided new learning resources for more than half of Reed's 1300 students. A survey conducted at Reed in 1998-99 indicated that the number of courses in the arts, humanities, and social sciences using technology had more than doubled since the beginning of the project. While some of this growth may be attributable to a general trend in higher education to employ instructional technologies, much of the increase at Reed can be traced directly to the Mellon project.
A factor that contributed to the project's success was its integration with a concurrent, and complementary effort funded by the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation. The Culpeper initiative, while emphasizing faculty mentoring and training rather than the creation of digital materials, focused on the same areas of the curriculum. Together, the two projects provided a wide range of support enabling students and faculty to explore and utilize new curricular technologies.
The challenge the College now faces is how to sustain the benefits of the Mellon initiative over the long term, in a manner that is consistent with the resources and priorities of the institution. It is critical for us to keep in mind that assisting faculty and students in their exploration of new technologies is an ongoing task that must continue as long as information resources continue to evolve. We cannot afford to simply "declare victory" and cease our efforts to provide opportunities for faculty members to discover and take advantage of new technologies.
Last Modified: February 25th, 2000