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Recognizing the rapid development of telecommunications and networking technologies and their growing importance to higher education and New Jersey's overall economic competitiveness, New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education called for the Commission on Higher Education and the Presidents' Council to appoint a Higher Education Technology Task Force to make recommendations regarding technology and institutional infrastructure. Following five months of deliberations, the appointed task force articulated a vision for higher education technology in New Jersey and recommendations regarding the proposed Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund, distance learning, and related infrastructure efforts. The report also recommends that a subgroup of the task force make additional recommendations by January 1998 regarding interconnectivity among institutions and how to fund recurring capital expenditures for technology at New Jersey's colleges and universities.
Technology Infrastructure Fund Act
The Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund requires the Commission on Higher Education to review institutions' proposed uses of $50 milllion in bond funds. The task force recommends that the Commission consider various criteria for reviews, such as: how the bond funds will advance an institution's long-range plan for technology; how the proposed connectivity and information technology will advance the institution's instructional, research, and service/economic development missions; how the institution will address technology training needs; and the source of revenue for matching funds.
The task force indicates that enhancement of educational opportunities through distance learning is dependent on a statewide integrated infrastructure that supports voice, video, and data transfer and facilitates joint degrees, partnerships, and flexibility in method of delivery. Recognizing both the potential of distance learning to broaden access to higher education and the need to establish minimum standards that protect the consumer and ensure the integrity of higher education, the task force recommends that all New Jersey institutions offering credit-bearing distance learning courses or programs should be subject to general licensure and degree approval regulations. Out-of-state institutions that offer courses or programs via distance learning and have an established physical presence in New Jersey also should be subject to those regulations. In cases where distance learning is offered by an institution without an established physical presence in New Jersey, state responsibility should be limited to providing consumer information pertaining to the accreditation status of the offering institution. In addition, the adoption of regulations establishing specific standards for distance learning programs is recommended. All new programs offered through distance learning by New Jersey institutions, or offered in New Jersey by out-of-state institutions with a physical presence in the state, should be subject to the same review and approval process applied to new programs offered through traditional delivery modes.
Recurring Technology Costs
The task force recommends that a subgroup of members thoroughly investigate how other states fund recurring capital expenditures for technology and make recommendations to the Commission and Presidents' Council by January 1998. In formulating their recommendations, the subgroup should determine the magnitude of funding higher education needs and consider the feasibility of a dedicated revenue stream to provide funds for recurring technology costs for all education institutions, kindergarten through postsecondary.
Related Infrastructure Efforts
The task force urges the Commission and Presidents' Council to continue to seek the inclusion of higher education in statewide technology infrastructure planning. Specifically, efforts should be made to have a portion of the fiber optic cable to be installed along New Jersey's toll roads dedicated to higher education, and efforts should also be made to establish discounts for college and university telecommunications service through an intrastate telecommunications universal services fund.
As a consequence of a fundamental restructuring of global politics and economics; exponential growth in the power, speed, and capacity of computers and information systems; and the versatility made possible by combining computing and telecommunications technologies, the contemporary world has entered the age of the "information economy." A strong economy and democracy now depend upon the fullest use of information technologies to maximize productivity, as well as the continual development and use of new and more powerful technologies.
As a result, New Jersey's economic growth is inextricably tied to the state's ability to keep pace with rapidly changing technologies, and higher education plays a critical role in preparing the state to do so. Colleges and universities are the primary institutions that educate individuals to participate in the mainstream of the information economy and provide leadership for the future. The institutions provide training, retraining, and continuing education for an informed citizenry and a sophisticated workforce prepared for technological advances.
New Jersey, because it has a strong information- and research-intensive industrial base, is particularly well placed to compete in the international high-technology arena. The state is a national leader in the number of resident high-tech companies, and the state's colleges and universities play a significant role in technology research and development. However, as is pointed out in Looking to the New Millennium: New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education, colleges and universities face the continual challenge of remaining in step with rapid developments in telecommunication and networking technologies. Their ability to do so is central to the education of a workforce that can propel the economy forward by supporting new business formation and by encouraging existing businesses to move to New Jersey from other locations.
For these reasons, the Commission on Higher Education and the Presidents' Council appointed a Higher Education Technology Task Force to make recommendations regarding technology and institutional infrastructure. This report includes a proposed vision for higher education technology in New Jersey, and recommendations related to distance learning, proposed technology infrastructure bonds, funding for recurring technology costs, and related infrastructure issues.
New Jersey aspires to have a system of higher education that is among the best in the world, embracing excellence, access, and affordability and utilizing technology to strengthen the system and improve efficiency and program effectiveness into the 21st century and beyond.
The introduction and broader use of telecommunications and networking technologies in higher education will greatly enhance teaching and learning across the state, while recognizing the changing relationship between instructor, learner, researcher, and location. It will facilitate the growth of each institution, within its unique mission, to develop the higher education enterprise in a manner consistent with the evolving needs of the state. Technology will help New Jersey students and institutions realize their full potential, while fulfilling the role of leadership expected of a state that is highly technology-dependent.
To realize this vision, the Commission on Higher Education and the Presidents' Council should advocate strategic investments in the technological infrastructure of higher education in New Jersey:
Background - Proposed Legislation
In her Fiscal Year 1998 budget recommendation, Governor Christine Whitman proposed a revenue bond of $50 million to provide funding for improved technology at colleges and universities. By requiring institutions to match the state's contribution dollar-for-dollar with campus or corporate funds, the proposal will generate a total of $100 million for institutional technology infrastructure.
The Governor's proposal is a critical first step in addressing higher education technology needs as discussed in New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education. As part of its charge, the Higher Education Technology Task Force provided advice and assistance as the legislation to create the technology bond fund was developed. For example, the task force recommended the following definition of "technology infrastructure":
"...technology infrastructure" means video, voice, and data telecommunications equipment and linkages, including transport services and network interconnections.
The task force also recommended the following language to describe the purpose of the fund:
The higher education technology bond funds shall be used to develop further video, voice, and data telecommunications networks; transport services; and information technology connectivity within and between New Jersey's institutions of higher education in order to effectively and efficiently provide access to information, educational opportunities, and workforce training. Funds may also be used to enhance higher education institutions' connectivity to libraries and elementary and secondary schools.
The Executive Board of the Presidents' Council also provided input in the development of the legislation by endorsing the task force's recommendation for a $5 million set-aside of bond funds for interinstitutional connectivity, and by agreeing upon the allocation among sectors of the remaining $45 million.
Legislation to create a Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund was signed into law by Governor Whitman on September 3, 1997.
In anticipation of passage of the legislation, the task force conducted a survey to provide a snapshot of existing technology programs, hardware, and connectivity at colleges and universities. The results of that survey are summarized in Appendix A. The task force also determined that a needs assessment should be conducted regarding interinstitutional connectivity in order to plan for use of the $5 million set-aside. A request for proposal was issued this month seeking a consultant to complete the needs assessment, and the consultant report is expected by November.
Rules and Regulations
Also in anticipation of approval of the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund Act, the task force developed proposed language for inclusion in Commission on Higher Education rules and regulations to implement the act. According to the legislation, each institution will be required to receive approval from the Commission on Higher Education to use its allocation from the technology fund. The purpose of the approval is to assure that the use of allocated funds is consistent with the intent of the law.
The following criteria are recommended for use by the Commission in reviewing each institution's proposed use of funds:
The task force also recommends the inclusion of the following definitions in the regulations:
"interinstitutional" means between two or more institutions.
"intrainstitutional" means within an institution's campus or between campuses of a multicampus institution.
In regard to the timing of the dollar-for-dollar match required to receive technology bond funds, the task force recommends that regulations include language indicating the following:
Expenditures made prior to July 1, 1997 cannot be used as a match for technology bond funds.
Expenditures made after July 1, 1997 may be used as a match for bond funds provided they are tied to the specific project(s) that the bond funds are used for, and provided the project(s) meets all of the criteria established in regulations to implement the Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund Act.
Communication technology presents new opportunities for New Jersey institutions and broader educational opportunities for students; the possibilities afforded by distance education are extraordinary. However, enhancement of educational opportunities through distance learning is dependent on a statewide integrated infrastructure that supports voice, video, and data transfer, and facilitates joint degrees, partnerships, and flexibility in method of delivery. Such a network is essential for New Jersey to compete in the burgeoning field of distance education and provide citizens with the opportunity to satisfy distance learning needs without going to out-of-state providers.
The development of a statewide network of high-level, high-quality distance learning courses and programs that meet the needs of students should be a priority for the New Jersey higher education system. An effective network infrastructure will require a significant level of interinstitutional communication and collaboration; all institutions can be involved, but levels of involvement will vary based on institutional mission and campus decisions.
Several efforts are currently underway to position the New Jersey system of higher education to take full advantage of technology in teaching, research, and service. Realization of a state commitment to address distance learning needs through the development of a comprehensive technology infrastructure is possible with the enactment of the proposed Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund. This report includes recommendations for licensure regulations to assure that minimum standards are in place for distance learning. Also, an important related effort grows out of New Jersey's Plan for Higher Education, which recommends that the Presidents' Council develop a plan for regional centers to prepare faculty and staff in the use of rapidly changing technology. One focus of those centers should be the development of expertise necessary for faculty and staff to prepare and deliver distance learning courses and programs that meet state standards and provide enhanced home or off-site learning opportunities.
Recommendations For Distance Learning
As the agency responsible for licensing institutions that provide credit-bearing courses in New Jersey, the Commission on Higher Education promulgates standards for licensure in the form of administrative regulations. Those regulations should be expanded to incorporate standards and requirements related specifically to distance learning. That is not to say that there should be less stringent standards for distance learning. On the contrary, institutions should adhere to comprehensive licensure standards for distance learning programs and should be as committed to the quality of those programs as they are to that of their traditional offerings. That commitment is essential to the integrity of higher education and the protection of the student. Therefore, recommendations regarding distance learning are provided below for New Jersey institutions and for out-of-state institutions.
New Jersey Institutions
New Jersey institutions that offer credit-bearing distance learning courses or programs within or outside of the state should be subject to all of the standards and rules in the New Jersey Licensure and Degree Approval Regulations for higher education, including those standards that are stipulated specifically for distance learning programs due to their unique method of delivery. Any standards that are specific to distance learning should be consistent with Guidelines for Distance Learning Programs developed by the Middle State Association of Colleges and Schools.
New Jersey law requires out-of-state institutions to be licensed by the Commission on Higher Education if they wish to provide credit-bearing instruction in the state. The purpose of licensing out-of-state institutions is not to restrict trade, but to assure that standards are in place and to protect the consumer. Therefore, out-of-state institutions that provide credit-bearing courses at locations in New Jersey are currently subject to the same regulations as in-state programs. With distance learning, however, it is possible for out-of-state institutions to provide credit-bearing instruction via electronic or other means without ever establishing a physical location in the state. The task force recommends that in cases where distance learning is offered without an established physical location in New Jersey, state responsibility should be limited to providing consumer information pertaining to the accreditation status of the offering institution.
Some out-of-state institutions, however, provide credit-bearing courses or programs via distance learning but do have an established physical presence in New Jersey where instruction is delivered. When a portion of instruction is delivered in New Jersey at a location established or arranged for by the out-of-state institution, New Jersey licensure regulations should apply, consistent with the law requiring all institutions that provide credit-bearing courses in New Jersey to be licensed by the Commission. The Attorney General's office indicates that general legal principles and the authority vested in the Commission by the Higher Education Restructuring Act of 1994 support the recommended approach of regulating out-of-state programs only if they are offered with a physical presence in New Jersey as defined below.
Specific Recommendations for Distance Learning Regulations
"Distance learning" shall be defined as a formal educational process in which all or the majority of the instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are not physically located in the same place at the same time.
"Physical presence" shall be defined as a situation in which an out-of-state institution offers credit-bearing courses and conducts some portion of the learning experience at a location established in New Jersey by the out-of-state institution, whether established directly or under the auspices of another organization or institution.
Program Review and Approval
As is currently the practice with traditionally offered programs, if a New Jersey institution wishes to offer a new degree program through distance learning, the program shall be subject to review by the Presidents' Council.
Distance learning degree programs offered at newly established off-campus sites shall be subject to any review or approval that is required for all programs at such off-campus sites. (Regulations pertaining to off-campus sites are currently under development as part of the revised licensure standards.)
Commission approval for distance learning programs offered by New Jersey institutions shall be required only if programs are referred by the Presidents' Council for consideration due to an institution's changing or exceeding its mission or due to excessive program cost or unnecessary duplication.
Out-of-state institutions that wish to offer credit-bearing distance learning with a physical presence in New Jersey must first be licensed by the Commission on Higher Education, with advice from the Presidents' Council, to offer specific courses or degree programs. If an out-of-state institution is licensed to offer a degree program(s) in New Jersey, the Presidents' Council must review any additional programs that it wishes to offer with a physical presence in this state.
Granting Degrees for Distance Learning Programs Provided Collaboratively
In the case of collaborative distance learning degree programs, it is the responsibility of the institutions offering the programs to determine which institution(s) will grant the degree.
Counting Students Enrolled in Multiple Institutions
Due to the ease of taking courses at multiple institutions through distance learning, the task force was asked also to address the issue of "how to count students who are simultaneously enrolled at more than one institution." The task force recommends the following for inclusion in regulations:
Students who are taking coursework at more than one institution shall be counted by each institution based on a full-time equivalent standard unless a consortial agreement exists between institutions regarding who will count the students for enrollment purposes.
Funding for Recurring Technology Costs
Recognizing that technology plays an increasingly significant role in providing higher education services to students and the state, funding for technology infrastructure and basic systems or upgrades is essential. The proposed $50 million Higher Education Technology Infrastructure Fund Act recognizes this, and the task force urges active support of the legislation to establish the fund. The $50 million plus the required institutional match will provide for significant infrastructure developments, both on and among campuses.
The task force realizes that there are also recurring costs associated with educational technology and telecommunications which require an ongoing funding source. States have various means of providing funds for recurring technology costs. Some provide annual or biannual budget allocations from the general fund for technology, some rely on bonds, and others rely on designated taxes or lotteries. But whatever the means, there is a growing recognition across the nation of the need to provide funds for recurring technology costs in order to ensure that higher education systems are equipped to meet the needs of students and contribute to societal and economic development in the age of the information economy.
The Higher Education Technology Task Force recommends that a subgroup of task force members be formed to thoroughly investigate how other states address recurring expenditures for technology. The subgroup should make a recommendation to the Presidents' Council and the Commission by January 1998 on how to fund recurring expenditures for technology and telecommunications costs at New Jersey colleges and universities. In formulating their recommendation, the subgroup should determine the magnitude of funding needed to support the vision set forth in this report and consider the feasibility of a dedicated revenue stream to provide funds for the recurring technology costs for all education institutions, kindergarten through postsecondary.
Interinstitutional Needs Assessment
The interinstitutional needs assessment to be completed by a consultant will inform distribution of the $5 million allocated for interconnectivity among higher education institutions. The continuing subgroup of the Higher Education Technology Task Force should also discuss the consultant's interconnectivity needs assessment and develop recommendations to the Presidents' Council and Commission by January 1998 regarding the technology infrastructure for higher education.
The Higher Education Technology Task Force also was involved in two ongoing efforts regarding the development and maintenance of a technology infrastructure for higher education.
Statewide Fiber Optic Cable Infrastructure
Representatives from the Commission on Higher Education, the Presidents' Council, and the task force jointly requested the Governor's Office to include higher education in statewide technology infrastructure planning. A specific request was made to have a portion of the fiber optic cable to be installed along New Jersey's toll roads dedicated to higher education in order to reduce costs and provide better access among institutions and to public schools, libraries, and business and industry. As a result, future fiber optic cable discussions will be broadened to include higher education, and higher education representatives should continue to urge the inclusion of colleges and universities in statewide technology infrastructure planning and development.
Prior to 1996, "universal service" ensured that residents in areas where phone service was expensive could receive affordable service subsidized through contributions made by telephone companies to a universal service fund. The federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 redefined universal service as an "evolving level of telecommunications services" that goes beyond mere telephone service, and it called for all telecommunications providers to contribute to the universal service fund. The law also extended discounted rates to schools and libraries on all telecommunications services, including transmission rates, inside wiring and wireless connections of school classrooms, and Internet services for schools and libraries. The telecommunications providers that serve schools will be reimbursed for the school discounts through the universal service fund.
While ensuring schools and libraries have access to advanced telecommunications services recognizes the importance of technology in education, the Telecommunications Act does not include telecommunications discounts across the educational spectrum to colleges and universities. Each state, however, is encouraged to adopt an intrastate provider fund to allow for additional discounts. As a result, with the support of the task force and on behalf of the higher education community, the Commission on Higher Education sought and received intervenor status in New Jersey's Board of Public Utilities evidentiary hearing at which statewide universal service issues will be resolved. The task force is working with the Commission to develop testimony and a convincing argument to establish an intrastate telecommunications universal service fund which will, among other things, provide discounts for college and university telecommunications service. The task force recommends ongoing support for these efforts in preparation for the hearings that will occur in early fall.
New Jersey Institute of Technology
Commission on Higher Education
|H. David Bearden|
Vice President of Sales & Service
Director of Telecommunications
Mercer County Community College
Vice President for Institutional Research & Planning
Vice President & Provost
Thomas Edison State College
Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey
New Jersey State Library
Director of Instruction and Research Technology
William Paterson College of New Jersey
|Joseph Moeller, Jr.|
Vice President of Graduate School & Research Director
Stevens Institute of Technology;
President, New Jersey Intercampus Network (NJIN)
Vice President of Sales
Bell Atlantic Corporation
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Educational Technology Coordinator
NJ Department of Education
|Anne Moreau Thomas|
Commission on Higher Education
Bergen Community College
Deputy Executive Director
Commission on Higher Education
Responses to the survey questions are summarized below, and a copy of the survey instrument is attached.
Fifty of the 51 institutions that responded indicated that they are connected to the Internet. The type of connection is varied, and in some cases institutions are connected by more than one means:
|22% are connected by modem||94% have a direct connection|
|12% - POTS||8% - 56KB|
|8% - ISDN||73% - T1|
|14% - SLIP/PPP||16% - other|
|2% - other|
Thirty-three institutions (65%) reported that they offer distance learning, and of the 18 institutions that do not offer distance learning, 13 institutions (72%) indicated that they intend to do so in the near future. A listing of distance learning offerings and the type of information technology used is provided in Attachment A.
Institutions also indicated the types of information technology they use for instruction, administration, and/or general communication. The chart on the following page indicates the number of institutions that use a particular type of information technology and the purpose for which they use it.
|INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY||INSTRUCTION||ADMINISTRATION||GENERAL COMMUNICATION|
|on campus||off campus||on campus||off campus||on campus||off campus|
|2. Multimedia computing||45||11||25||5||14||6|
|3. Fax Machines||26||19||46||34||35||31|
|4. Cable TV||19||12||10||3||18||8|
|5. Closed Circuit TV||13||3||9||1||12||1|
|6. Broadcast TV||12||7||5||1||1||1|
|7. Video Tape||45||26||23||9||15||12|
|8. Satellite Connection||25||5||20||3||12||4|
|9. Desktop Video|
|10. Interactive Video Classrooms||27||22||16||14||9||15|
1. Please check the type(s) of connection your institution has to INTERNET:
|Connected to Internet by Modem||Connected to Internet by Direct Connection|
If "other" please indicate:__________________________________________________
2. Who is your INTERNET service provider?
3. Does your institution have:
|an interactive video classroom(s)?||_____Yes||_____No|
|_____ Bell Atlantic IDLS service||_____ISDN||_____Other:_______________|
|_____ Other: ___________________________|
|_____ Own or lease-purchasing a telephone switch(s)|
|_____ Contract with a provider for services|
|_____ Yes||_____ No|
7. If you do not currently offer any distance learning, do you intend to do so in the near future?
|_____ Yes||_____ No|
8. Please check the appropriate column(s) below to indicate if the listed information technology is used at your institution for instruction, administration, and/or general communication. (In each case, please check the appropriate column to indicate if used for on campus communication and/or off campus communication.)
|INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY||INSTRUCTION||ADMINISTRATION||GENERAL COMMUNICATION|
|on campus||off campus||on campus||off campus||on campus||off campus|
|2. Multimedia Computing|
|3. Fax Machines|
|4. Cable TV|
|5. Closed Circuit TV|
|6. Broadcast TV|
|7. Video Tape|
|8. One-way Video w/Two-way audio or PC Link (Satellite Connection)|
|9. Two-way Video & Audio (Desktop Videoconferencing)|
|10. Two-way Video & Audio (Interactive Video Classrooms)|
|(For the purposes of this question, distance learning is defined as a formal educational process in which the majority of the instruction occurs when the learner and the instructor are not physically located in the same place at the same time.)|
|NAME OF PROGRAM OR COURSE||I.T.
Thank you for completing this survey. Please return your response by May 28, 1997 to the Commission on Higher Education; fax to 609-292-7225 or mail response to CN 542, Trenton, NJ 08625. (Please address questions to Dr. Jeanne Oswald, 609-292-8916.)