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Adopt & Deploy: The Myths

Vijay KumarAs assistant provost and director of academic computing, M.S. Vijay Kumar provides strategic leadership for education technology at MIT. He also is the principal investigator for the Open Knowledge Initiative (, the MIT-led collaborative project to develop an open architecture for enterprise educational applications. Additionally, Kumar is a member of both the steering committee for the MIT-Microsoft Alliance’s Project iCampus ( and the advisory committee for MIT’s OpenCourseWare ( His extensive engagement in professional activities includes service on the Applications Strategy Council for Internet2 (, and on the governing boards of the Seminars on Academic Computing ( sac) and the New England Regional Computing Program, (

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Myth: Technology is the reason educators adopt technology.

  • Education is the reason educators adopt technology.
  • Speed and graphics may be why educators consider a technology initially, but not why they stay with it.
  • It is the whole educational value and experience with the technology that matters.

Myth: Technology plans should be driven by IT needs and dreams.

  • Don’t have IT visions! Instead…
  • Have educational visions, and let IT strategies follow.

Myth: We need whole new technologies specifically for education.

  • Wrong: We don’t have to create unique technologies for unique needs.
  • Service layers and interfaces can be built around simple, available technologies.

Myth: Available technologies, with no changes, can be used for education.

  • Most available technologies are not designed for education.
  • Technologies have to be made compatible with the culture of education and adaptable for different teaching and learning situations.

Myth: Infrastructure is key, so it’s best to start thinking about infrastructure from the get-go.

  • Thinking about infrastructure and sustainability implications too early can obscure the unique challenges you need to address.
  • Accordingly, if you concentrate on infrastructure too soon, good ideas will die before they are fully formed.

Myth: Technology costs are the big-ticket items in your implementations.

  • No; you have to look at the whole value chain of deriving educational benefits from technology: good ideas, content, integration, and training.
  • If you look at the total cost of the end-to-end educational experience, you might well find that technology is the cheapest element.

Myth: Your institution is alone in shouldering all the costs of technology.

  • Interactive “e” assignments will lead traditional texts for all levels of coursework.
  • Consortial efforts can help mitigate the cost of development and maintenance.
  • Appropriate organizational and technical infrastructure can advance collaboration and help achieve economies of scale.

Myth: All institutions have to conduct their own experimentation with advanced technologies.

  • Not true; a few institutions can make initial experiments and create models that many other institutions can follow.
  • A variety of digital review processes complete with electronic workflows, signatures, and security will replace stacks of paper.
  • The benefits can be shared widely among many institutions.

Myth: Without costly technology, there can’t be real educational value.

  • Educational value is derived from interesting and useful applications of technology: low- or high-cost.
  • You can do many things with low-cost technology. For example, is the Internet expensive? MIT’s OCW (OpenCourseWare) is free.
  • Affordable technology serves value to the many, rather than the few.

Myth: Innovation just happens.

  • You can’t keep working away on technology solutions, hoping that educational innovation will occur.
  • Occasionally, you have to pull out of your operational treadmill.
  • Don’t let the eight ball obscure your crystal ball!
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