The importance and continued development of technology in higher education and distance learning attracted nearly 300 participants to the recent ITDE 2002-Information Technology and Distance Education conference at The University of Texas-Pan American.
An annual University of Texas System conference organized by the System campuses, ITDE 2002 examined infrastructure, tools and content-oriented applications, new roles for instructors and learners, cases and projects, student services, tele-medicine, universal web accessibility, and policy and administration.
"In terms of technology, this University has placed a great deal of emphasis on integrating technology both in the classroom and in the curriculum," said Dr. Rodolfo Arévalo, provost/vice president for Academic Affairs, in his welcoming address.
"When you have a student body where 75-80 percent are working in one form or another, it's very important for us to continue utilizing technology to provide curriculum to these individuals. We don't localize our offerings to people but in fact are expanding access to the University."
This year's theme was "Technology on the Edge" and included pre-conference workshops and a reception at the Shary-Shivers Estate.
The technical program facilitated the exchange of ideas and information through keynote and invited talks, full and short paper presentations, poster/demonstration sessions, tutorials, workshops, panels, and more.
"The purpose of this conference is two-fold," said Douglas Young, assistant director of the UTPA Center for Distance Learning. "Primarily, we want all the component units of the UT System to be able to share their knowledge in information technology and distance education, with a slant toward web-based learning.
"Also, we want to share this information with other organizations. This is a community outreach program for UT Pan American. For example, through our College of Education, we're reaching out to the local school districts and sharing the technology ideas we have."
Highlighting the conference were two keynote speakers - Georgia K. Harper, Intellectual Property Section manager of the UT System Office of General Counsel, and Ron Stewart, director of the Technology Access Program at Oregon State University.
Speaking on "Technology, Distance Education and Copyright: Volatile Contents Under Pressure," Harper said copyright law is a matter of balance between owners' rights and users' rights that can be confusing and easily misinterpreted.
"Copyright was not on anyone's radar screen when I started at the UT System about 11 years ago," she said. "But now, it's on everyone's mind, and most people come up empty-handed. They don't understand it and find difficulty making any sense of it."
To clarify the nuances of copyright law, Harper told conference participants in detail what copyright protects, when it begins and ends, ownership, exemptions for higher education, and liability.
Stewart discussed "Anytime Anywhere Education, Fact or Fiction for Individuals with Disabilities" at the conference closing luncheon.
The ITDE conference series began as the System Conference on Information Technology. The first meeting was held in Austin (1996), followed by gatherings in San Antonio (1997), El Paso (1998), Brownsville (1999), Galveston (2000) and again in Austin last year.
Sponsors for ITDE 2002 at UTPA were Hewlett-Packard, Gateway, UT TeleCampus, Campus Pipeline, SCT, Sound Visions Corp., WebCT, A&W Office Supplies, Dell, Oracle, Polycom, XanEdu and The University of Texas-Permian Basin, where next year's conference will occur.