Bates managing technological change model

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  • At the core of the Bates model is the hypothesis that pegagogical change requires organizational change.
If universities and colleges are successfully to adopt the use of technologies for teaching and learning, much more than minor adjustments in current practice will be required. Indeed, the effective use of technology requires a revolution in thinking about teaching and learning. Part of that revolution necessitates restructuring universities and colleges - that is, changing the way higher education institutions are planned, managed, and organized

(Bates, 2000:xiii)

The model

For the moment we just provide a short (but commented) summary of Bates' (2000:1-6) own executive summary, including quotations. (see also [1]).

DSchneider did not fully finish this outline, improving this needs some reading to be done ....
  1. New technologies increase flexibility of learning and teaching, but also improve higher order skills
  2. It's unlikely that new technologies will lead to reduction in spending because investment costs are high an recurrent. However, new technologies may increase pedagogical effectiveness and therefore be profitable. However this requires substantial reorganization of learning and teaching. (That is a statement with which most educational technologists would agree.)
  3. Technology must be integrated into a wider strategy for teaching and learning (Of course, see also instructional design, pedagogic strategy, instructional design models for further reading).
  4. "Lone ranger approaches" are useful to get started, but costly an inefficient. Therefore Bates recommends a "heavy" project management approach. (DSchneider thinks that this is both true and wrong, true because lone rangers indeed do not change the organization, false because educational organizations usually are unfit to organize change).
  5. Appropriate technology infrastructure is an essential requirement for technology-based teaching. Infrastructure has to serve both administrative and academic needs. Both administration and education must develop adequate planning mechanisms. Bates particularly insists that “an institution needs to put in place mechanisms for identifying academic needs and priorities and ensuring that they are taken into account in technology planning. This needs to push right down to departmental and discipline level” (Bates, 2000: 93). (DSchneider adds a word of caution here. It is also imporantant that this infrastructure leaves a lot of space for experimentation and innovation, else there is no way that pedagogical effectiveness (see #1) can be improved.
  6. “There is a tension between the need for students to have access to technology, and issues of equity and universal access to higher education”
  7. “Faculty members need much more support and encouragement than has been provided to date for their use of technology for teaching and learning” DSchneider agrees with Bates that effective teaching with technology requires a higher skill level. This requires investment for teachers and should according to Bates lead to "greater emphasis on overall teaching ability for appoinment, tenure, and promotion, even in research universities" (idem). In addition, teachers need more support staff. (This is particularly true when using activity-based instructional design models in larger classes).
  8. “All faculty members must understand and comply with copyright law”. However, DSchneider thinks that fully paid teachers from public universities also should make available some of their materials under an appropriate open source content model (e.g. that lets people use it for non-commercial purposes under the condition that the author is cited). There are several models. E.g. as an example, see the EduTech_Wiki:Copyrights statement of this wiki.
  9. “It is essential that institutions understand the costs of using new technologies.”. Bates presents a costing method that takes into account various fixed and variable costs. He then shows (p. 128) that from a given amount of students, the combination of multi-media materials (high fixed costs) plus computer conferencing can become cheaper than classroom teaching (that has a higher variable cost/student than computer conferencing). He admits though, that projections are not easy to make. Also indirect costs and benefits (e.g. what is the impact of better education to the national economy) are very difficult to quantify. However, he does make the very good point that all costs and benefits should be made as transparent as possible and enter into the model.
  10. “Funding is probably the biggest lever for change.” Bates suggests that funding should be central initially in order to encourage organization-wide project management approaches but then be pushed down to the department level while keeping infrastructure and some special services at the center. He also rightly points out that “reallocation is the ultimate test of an institution's commitment to teaching with technology”.
  11. “Partnerships and collaboration are strategies for sharing the costs and leveraging the benefits of technology-based teaching.”
  12. “An organizational structure encompassing a mix of centralized and decentralized strategies is recommended to support teaching with technology.”
  13. “As the institution starts to use technology for teaching outside its local area, new administrative and academic procedures will be necessary in the areas of admissions, finance, and academic policy.”
  14. “Given the emerging context of technology-based teaching, especially for traditional campus-based universities and colleges, research and evaluation will be essential.”
  15. “The implementation of these strategies will require fundamental change in the way our higher education institutions are organized and managed.”
  16. “Finally, the changes proposed in this book may be too rich, too drastic, or too threatening to the core values of many institutions.” This also implies that badly managed organizational projects can lead to disaster, i.e. a lot of money will be spent for nothing.



  • Bates, A.W. (Tony) (2000), Managing Technological Change: Strategies for College and University Leaders, San Franciso: Jossey-Bass. ISBN 0-7879-4681-8.