Future Investment in Technology
December 14, 2000
This proposal to the President of NASFAA was written for OMDE 603, Technology
in Distance Education. It was designed to incorporate complete requirements
in order for the organization to be able to support a Web-based education
To: NASFAA President
Re: Future investment in technology
The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)
is considering strategies for the development of a comprehensive Web-based
training program to provide training services to those individuals who
cannot benefit from traditional face-to-face workshops. This objective
can best be met by developing a partnership with other organizations
with similar goals, which provide expertise not currently available from
within the NASFAA staff organization.
NASFAA’s Board of Directors has charged the staff with reconfiguring
its comprehensive financial aid training curriculum, which was originally
designed for face-to-face workshops, for delivery using distance education
methods. NASFAA currently hosts its own Web site, distributes daily e-mail
to more than 5,000 members with that day’s Web site postings, and
maintains a SQL membership database updateable on the Web site. In 1998,
NASFAA conducted a six-month Web-based training experiment to approximately
85 aid administrators. NASFAA’s technology support staff time and
expertise is limited.
Most US colleges and universities share information via the Web if they
participate in federally funded financial aid programs. The government
publishes a comprehensive CD-ROM training program, thus setting the stage
for use of personal computers for training. NASFAA’s membership
includes several large-scale state agencies and national organizations
with considerable expertise and infrastructure to provide the technology
services needed to support a Web-based training effort. Many of NASFAA’s
more than 3,000 institutional members are deeply involved in distance
education and could provide pedagogical and instructional design expertise
on a collaborative basis. The collegial nature of the financial aid profession
provides fertile ground for developing a professional mentoring program
to support distance learners. Extending NASFAA’s training effort
to potentially thousands of new learners who cannot currently access
face-to-face training workshops can result in increased revenue.
Based on the requirements analysis in Appendix A, the technology most
appropriate for NASFAA’s distance education initiative is networked
learning via the Web (Bates, 1995, 2000). The nature of the content,
professional atmosphere, importance of learner interaction, government
and institutional participation requirements and traditions, and speed
of change all support the use of the Web to distribute training content.
However, this choice comes with potentially substantial costs if NASFAA
passes on all development and support costs to learners (Morgan, 2000).
For this reason, NASFAA should partner with other organizations involved
in student aid delivery to provide technology and pedagogical support,
thus allowing the NASFAA staff to focus on the development of training
materials appropriate for Web delivery.
Terminology/requirements: NASFAA’s Web-based training program
should incorporate the following components:
Presentation of content using Hypertext Markup Language (HTML), the
protocol used to create documents for publication and distribution on
E-mail communications between learners, instructors, and mentors.
Computer conferencing, or discussion forums, allowing messages
among a group of learners to be sorted, organized, stored,
and retrieved on
- Research on the Web.
(Haughey & Anderson, 1998)
The Web campus infrastructure should be constructed to include personal
communication tools and applications, a Web campus, dedicated servers
and software applications, and software applications and services from
external providers (Boettcher, July 2000). Learners, training staff,
and the technology provider will need the hardware, software, and technical
support outlined in Appendix B.
Under a partnership approach to providing Web-based training:
The current NASFAA content experts and training providers would
handle curriculum development.
One or more of NASFAA’s institutional members with
expertise in distance education would provide online learning and
peer review of training materials, and evaluation of content quality
(Hanley, October 2000).
A state or other non-profit agency with experience in student
financial aid and the required infrastructure would provide technology
Learner support services
Appropriate learner support services for this Web-based training include:
Guidance/counseling, including training and logistical support
for the technology neophyte, support for collaborative and participatory
training, technology support services, and mentoring services provided
by experienced financial aid professionals (Haughey & Anderson, 1998;
Moore & Kearsley, 1996).
Administrative assistance, including a student handbook, training
materials, library and resource support, online exams and assessments,
and technology to track student progress through the courses (Haughey & Anderson,
1998; Moore & Kearsley, 1996).
Interaction between students, instructors
and mentors, computer conferencing for discussion, and small-group
student collaboration on
assignments (Haughey & Anderson, 1998; Moore & Kearsley, 1996).
By choosing to develop a Web-based training program, NASFAA relies on
the established base of Web usage by colleges and universities. Given
the strong growth of the Web, continued software development efforts,
and the steady reduction in costs for Internet support and access, NASFAA
can expect that with experience its costs will not increase substantially.
By relying on partners for support that it cannot provide itself, NASFAA
leverages its position in the financial aid community and the support
it enjoys from organizations with greater expertise in technology and
Determine potential partners to provide technology and pedagogical
expertise to NASFAA’s Web-based training project. Develop requirements,
roles, and responsibilities to support a collaborative effort (Duin,
Determine the authoring and other software tools required to
develop Web-based training materials.
Determine staff training requirements
in online pedagogy, Web-based training development, and online
training evaluation processes.
Develop a projected budget based on the
partnership agreements, software selections, and training requirements,
using Bates (2000) methodology
for calculating the costs of teaching with technology.
The key to NASFAA’s success in developing a Web-based
training alternative lies in the strength of the partnerships it can
forge. As Duin (2000) points out, the “characteristics of surviving
and thriving organizations in the next century will, above all, include
the capacity to develop, maintain, and profit from working in strategic
collaborative relationships” (p. 22). As a membership organization
with a history of working relationships within the higher education community,
NASFAA is well positioned to develop a successful Web-based training
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Bates, A.W. (2000). Managing technological change: Strategies
for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Berg, G. A. (October-December 2000). Economic models for distance learning.
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Boettcher, J.V., & Vijay Kumar, M.S. (June 2000). The other infrastructure:
Distance education’s digital plant. Syllabus Magazine (13), 10.
Retrieved December 10, 2000 on the World Wide Web at http://www.syllabus.com/syllabusmagazine/June00_fea.html.
Downes, S. (July/August, 2000). Nine rules of good technology. Horizon.
Retrieved November 17, 2000 on the World Wide Web at http://horizon.unc.edu/TS/commentary/2000-07a.asp.
Duin, A. H., & Baer, L. L. (2000). VirtualU: Creating the Minnesota
Virtual University—Assessing results and readiness criteria. EDUCAUSE
Quarterly (23), 1. Retrieved December 5, 2000 on the World Wide Web at
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instructional technology. Syllabus Magazine (14), 3. Retrieved December
10, 2000 on the World Wide Web from http://www.syllabus.com/syllabusmagazine/oct00_fea.html
Haughey, M. & Anderson, T. (1998). Networked learning: The pedagogy
of the Internet. Montreal: Cheneliere/McGraw-Hill.
McFadden, A.C., Marsh II, G. E., & Price, B. J. (Winter 1999). Why
do educators embrace high-cost technologies? Journal of Distance
Learning Administration (II), IIII. Retrieved December 9, 2000 on the World Wide
Web at http://www.westga.edu/~distance/mcfadden24.html
Moore, M. G. & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems
view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Morgan, B.M. (2000). Distance education at what price? EDUCAUSE
Quarterly (23), 3. Retrieved November 18, 2000 on the World Wide Web at http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eq/a003/eqm003a.pdf.
Full report retrieved November 18, 2000 on the World Wide Web at http://www.marshall.edu/distance/.
The Institute for Higher Education Policy (April, 2000). Quality
on the line: Benchmarks for success in Internet-based distance education.
Washington, DC: The Institute for Higher Education Policy.
Learning Anytime Anywhere Partnerships: http://www.ed.gov/offices/OPE/FIPSE/LAAP/
Web-Based Education Commission: http://www.hpcnet.org/webcommission
Appendix A: ACTIONS Model
Bates’ ACTIONS model has been used to determine the specific technology
approach that will be used to meet respond to the NASFAA Board of Director’s
mandate (Bates, 1995, 2000).
ACTIONS Model Component
Access for target groups: The target
group for distance delivery consists of financial aid administrators
at US colleges, universities, and career
schools who are unable to participate in face-to-face training workshops
because of insufficient travel funds, geographical distance, and scheduling
at an inappropriate time of year. All federally funded US institutions
must meet minimum software and hardware requirements that enable them
to access information via the World Wide Web.
Costs: Institutional costs for participation
in NASFAA’s distance
training are limited to any charges assessed by NASFAA. NASFAA’s
marginal costs of preparing and supporting alternative training materials,
additional server capacity, technology staff salaries, staff training
in use of the course development tools, support for registration and
other administrative tasks, staff time to author the new training modules,
and computer conferencing software could be substantial (Morgan, 2000).
Teaching and learning:
The content of the 17 modules is a combination of specific skills training,
development of the guiding ethical principles that are considered essential
to professional financial aid administration and problem-solving to deal with
individual student circumstances.
A key aspect behind the success of traditional face-to-face workshops for financial
aid professionals is the opportunity they provide for interaction and discussion
between learners. The financial aid profession is characterized by a healthy
camaraderie among working professionals. Individual learners can gain from
the support of tutors or mentors who provide one-on-one assistance and facilitate
interaction among learners.
US institutions that participate in the federally funded student financial
aid programs are required by the US Department of Education to participate
via the Web in information sharing about financial aid programs, and therefore
already have the basic technology they need (Downes, July/August, 2000). In
addition, institutions traditionally rely on the Internet to provide consumer
information, database searching, library, and other administrative services.
NASFAA’s relies on its Web site as the primary method for disseminating
information to its members and other higher education associations.
Because of the current interest in distance education via the Web, additional
funding is available for Web-based training initiatives (Learning Anytime Anywhere
Partnerships. Web-Based Education Commission). New tools are rapidly being
developed to support “e-learning,” Web-based training and education,
streaming video and audio, and other uses of technology.
The training content is subject to regular and substantial change, since financial
aid administration relies on rules and regulations promulgated by state, federal,
and private agencies. Errors in content and changes in regulatory and policy
interpretations must be addressed immediately.
Appendix B: Software, Hardware, and Support Requirements
Hardware Software Technical Support
Requirements · A personal computer linked to the Internet via
an Internet Service Provider (ISP) that provides Internet connections
to the end users, an e-mail address, and a set of modems allowing users
to gain access (Haughey & Anderson, 1998, p. 151).
· A telephone line and a modem, which converts digital signals
internal to a computer into analog signals that can be transported over
ordinary telephone lines (Haughey & Anderson, 1998, p. 152).
· Client connectivity software, typically a World Wide Web browser, providing
access to Internet resources that use a set of addressing, processing, and transmission
protocols (Haughey & Anderson, 1998, p. 150).
· An e-mail program that permits users to send from and receive
e-mail at their unique Internet addresses.
· Access to a search engine, which allows the user to link to
materials on the Internet via keywords or search phrases (Haughey & Anderson,
1998, p. 152).
· User-specificpersonal computer, ISP, and modem technical and customer
support (Haughey & Anderson, 1998, p. 17).
· User-specific browser online technical and customer support.
· Institutional customer support for course delivery, computer
conferencing, databases, libraries, archives, and other resources(The
Institute for Higher Education Policy, p. 12).
Technology Provider Requirements
· A server computer or servers connected at a unique address to the Internet
via an Internet Service Provider (ISP), which support the institution’s
Web site, e-mail, database searches, and computer conferencing (Haughey & Anderson,
1998, p. 152).
· A Web server program that performs services in response to requests
delivered to the server from client programs operated by remote users (Haughey & Anderson,
1998, p. 152).
· An e-mail server program that permits the institution to communicate
with all learners and to provide e-mail-based technical and other learner
· A computer conferencing or discussion forum server program
that permits topic-based presentation and organization of course modules
and conference messages (Haughey & Anderson, 1998, p. 100, p.153).
· Hypertext editor, authoring, or course delivery system, which
assists the institution in creating and distributing course materials
(Haughey & Anderson, 1998, pp. 96-97).
· Electronic security measures including password, encryption,
and backup systems (The Institute for Higher Education Policy, p. 11).
· Hardware support for the Web and other servers.
· User support for the Web server program, e-mail server program,
computer conferencing system, and security systems.
· Technical assistance to faculty in course development and the
specific course development tools used (The Institute for Higher Education
Policy, p. 12).