A Low Threshold Application (LTA) is a teaching/learning application of information
technology that is reliable, accessible, easy to learn,
non-intimidating and (incrementally) inexpensive. Each LTA has
observable positive consequences, and contributes to important long
term changes in teaching and/or learning. "... the potential user (teacher or learner) perceives
an LTA as NOT
challenging, not intimidating, not requiring a lot of additional
work or new thinking. LTAs… are also 'low-threshold' in
the sense of having low INCREMENTAL costs for purchase, training,
support, and maintenance." - Steve Gilbert, President, TLT Group,
Thresholds: There are
many kinds of “thresholds.” Some are more concrete:
What technology is accessible to those involved? And some are
more abstract: With which applications of technology are those
involved really comfortable, confident? Whether a threshold is
“low” or “high” ” depends on a variety of local conditions
and personal attitudes. Edward Hallowell has suggested that
fear is the greatest learning disability. Fear may be the
greatest barrier to change, the highest threshold of all.
Underlying Technology: Every
LTA is based on some technology that is either “almost
ubiquitous,” available commercially at low-cost to teachers and
learners, or available from “open source/open course”
collections of instructional and professional development
resources. The latter collections require little or no
payment but encourage users to contribute to the development of the
imperative for many colleges and universities is to engage “almost
all” of the faculty in improving teaching and learning with
information technology. For the last several years, most colleges and universities
achieved a reasonable beginning and a balance in supporting their
local “pioneers” or “early adopters” of instructional uses
of information technology. The
pioneers and the support professionals found ways of working
together. But support professionals are neither numerous nor
well-prepared to enable the much larger numbers of mainstream
faculty members and students to use technology in teaching and
available for this purpose are quite limited.
experience suggests that this new, much larger cohort of mainstream
faculty members is much more likely to be receptive to what they
perceive as only modest changes that require them to reconceive only
a little their identity, their roles, and their workload.
They tend to resist the kinds of workshops and dislike the
risks and quirks often associated with the most innovative
educational uses of information technology.
They rightfully resent implications that their work of past
years or decades has been inadequate or incompetent.
Many of them have much to offer and welcome opportunities to
contribute to the overall change process – within reasonable
a new approach likely to succeed in meeting this new imperative is
needed. We begin by
helping a few faculty leaders, faculty development professionals,
librarians, technology professionals, et al. from participating
institution to build tailored collections of Low Threshold
Activities (or Advances or Applications) = LTAs. We will launch a series of activities, share related
professional development models, and help structure and build
supportive resources to help them find, create, assemble, share, and
use these collections to enable their faculty colleagues to move
ahead more comfortably, quickly, and cost-effectively.
We anticipate depending and building on the skills and
efforts of faculty development professionals, librarians, technology
support professionals, and librarians (and faculty leaders and other
academic support professionals). – Steve Gilbert, President, TLT
[Note: Each LTA
has some technological components and some components that are
techniques of teaching and learning.]
hardware, software, technological infrastructure incremental cost; [Low dollars, time, stress, ...] based on using technology applications that are:
Easy to Learn and Access: Based
on using technology applications and teaching/learning techniques
that are already known or easy to learn -- and easily accessible to
faculty and students involved.
and students do NOT perceive the LTA as requiring major
re-adjustment in their roles or in their lives.
The LTAs are based on technology applications and
teaching/learning techniques that do not intrude into the classroom
OR that are already familiar within or outside of usual course work.
Observable Positive Consequences
testimony from some peers and colleagues of the faculty and students
confirm desirable results from similar efforts.
Or formal studies show that positive outcomes are associated
with the activity.
: Teachers and learners can rely on the technology underlying a
particular LTA. LTAs work as expected most of the time, especially
when used during class time that cannot easily be extended or
re-scheduled. NOTE: This reliability may depend as much on the
quality and robustness of the technology infrastructure of the
particular college or university as on the LTA technology itself.
Precipitates, Facilitates Important Long Term Changes:
Stories, evidence or compelling reasoning suggest that after a few
years, the LTA is likely to precipitate, facilitate – or at least
contribute to -- changes in how teachers and learners think and act
in those roles."
Almost Ubiquitous Technology:
Apply the concept of “sunk costs” by using technology
applications that are already almost ubiquitously accessible within
Use commercial (for profit or non-profit) technology applications or
resources that require very little incremental expenditure by the
institution or the faculty and little or no additional training or
support for faculty and students.
Open Source / Open Course Resources:
Use items from “Open Source” style collections of instructional
and professional development resources.
These collections should require little or no payment from
individual faculty members and should encourage users to contribute
to the development of the resources.
is more information on Open Source/Course Resources.