News of the College Feb. 2001

Reed bands together with small colleges to keep pace with technology

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Reed and three other leading liberal arts colleges—Occidental, Swarthmore, and Vassar—have launched a cooperative project that will provide a new national model for cost-effective management of technological change in small colleges. The project will be funded by a $1.2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Reed will serve as the project coordinator and host of the project web site.

“The cost of dealing with the web and other new technologies is getting so high that smaller colleges are being left behind,” said Martin Ringle, Reed’s director of computing and information services. “This project is an effort to establish a method for small colleges to select and implement new technologies in a professional, cost-effective, and sustainable way.” During the first phase of the project (2000-02), the colleges will evaluate costs, staffing requirements, and strategies for the use of web technology at more than 50 leading liberal arts colleges. Among the areas to be explored are training methods for faculty and students, the use of online tutorials, outsourcing versus in-house web development, and campus standards for web technologies. The four colleges also will collaborate on the development of various web utilities.

Using the kind of collaborative methods it intends to promote, the project will incorporate online information sharing, joint training sessions, staff exchanges, and multi-institutional task forces.

During the second phase of the project under development for 2003-04, the four partners plan to invite other liberal arts colleges and regional consortia to join the collaboration. ”Preserving the ability of small liberal arts colleges to be competitive with technology in a rapidly changing market is a key goal of the project. It’s analogous to mom and pop grocery stores working together to find a way to stay in business when a Wal-Mart shows up in town,” Ringle said.

Until now, most small college technology collaborations have been local or regional in scope, through such partnerships as the Five Colleges in Massa-chusetts or the Claremont Colleges in California. Results will be posted on the project web site, and information will be disseminated regularly in professional publications and through presentations at meetings of such national organizations as the Consortium of Liberal Arts Colleges.






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