Essay Instructions: Essay Instructions
Applied Research Project Details and Topics
You have been asked by the executive committee of your company to give a report on the strategic implications of information technology on your business over the next three years. Here are brief steps that can help in forming how you will complete the project:
-Find a business need that can be satisfied with technology
-Research available options
-Assess solutions based on decision criteria
-Rcommend and justify your solution
This report will be written with the intention to submit it to the executive committee. The executive committee has identified a number of potential research topics (not intended to be all inclusive) that include:
• Information Superhighway
o Strategic e-commerce
o Internet Legislation including taxation
o Internet security
• IS Management
o Business Process Reengineering
o Website Development
• Corporate Applications
o Information Security
o Expert Systems
o Artificial Intelligence
• Telecommunications and Networks
o Gigabit and higher networks
o Video Conferencing
o Wireless networking
• IS Acquisitions
o Cost Justification Methodology
o Total Cost of Ownership
o Systems Development Life Cycle
o Weighted Criteria Analysis
o Computer Ethics
o Virtual Reality
o Data Security
o International Issues
o Computer Based Learning
o Wireless Broadband
o 64 Bit Microprocessor and associated chip sets
o Portable Computing trends
• End User Software/Applications
o Database trends
o Operating System trends
o Office Suite trends
o Project Management trends
Pick a topic from one major area and subcategory. Then choose a specific company (either one you work for or one you have researched) and prepare a written report using APA format. You may find information about APA in the Syllabus. The HUB 2.0 Student Resources center contains a variety of guides for APA which may be helpful as well.
The paper needs to include a recommendation on what strategic action to take relative to the topic selected as well as the impact on the selected company over a three year time frame. The paper should follow this general outline:
I. Definition of the subject
II. Brief background of the company you have chosen
III. Discussion of Current Business Issues (the issues would be addressed by your chosen topic)
IV. Discussion of Proposed Solution (how the chosen topic addresses the business issues described)
V. Recommendations for the Executive Committee (supported by strategic impact of topic over a three year time frame)
i. Reference List
ii. Exhibits of any material that can be used to support assertions made or facts presented in the paper.
General Expectations for your Final Paper
The paper should follow the APA style of citing references and should include no fewer than five reference citations.
Use the library available credible resources on the Internet.
The paper should be between 8-10 double-spaced pages (excluding title page, abstract, bibliography and attachments). 8 to 10 pages of content correlates to 2,000 to 2,500 words.
Reference direct quotations and paraphrased material from your research appropriately via APA style.
Below is an example of what the paper needs to resemble ( this is an example that was given to us by the professor as a SIMPLY A GUIDE)
Technology-Mediated Learning Environment -- TutorPro
Example used with permission from the student 2/18/2010.?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 3
II. DEFINITION/HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY-MEDIATE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT 3
III. BACKGROUND OF LAW FIRM X 4
IV. DISCUSSION OF CURRENT BUSINESS ISSUES 4
V. PROPOSED SOLUTION 6
VI. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE 8
VII. ATTACHMENTS 11
VIII. REFERENCES 13
I. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
This research paper examines the technology-mediated learning environment and the advantages of using online technology to facilitate staff training. Additionally, this paper discusses Law FirmX's implementation of desktop tutorial software program "TutorPro" with the purpose of increasing secretarial skill competency levels. This paper illustrates how FirmX can increase employee commitment, minimize resistance by effectively communicating the firm’s expectations. Lastly, this paper outlines recommendations on how FirmX's implementation of TutorPro will assist the firm's short and long-term goals in meeting their strategic goals and objectives.
II. DEFINITION/HISTORY OF TECHNOLOGY-MEDIATE LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
TML is defined as an “environment in which the learners' interactions with learning materials (readings, assignments, exercises, etc.), peers and/or instructors are mediated through advanced information technologies.” (Alavi, M., & Leidner, D. 2001, p. 2). Learning instruction refers to “situations in which one individual intentionally tries to influence the learning of another by structuring the environment of the learner in a manner where the individual will achieve a desired outcome.” (Shuell & Lee, 1976). Two important trends in the training area are "1) the influence of technology in all learning scenarios referred to as technology-mediated learning and 2) the move toward more social forms of learning." (Arthur, et al., 2003).
Technology-mediated learning (“TML”) environment assists in the need for education to be readily accessible and flexible. There is an “increased demand for a highly educated workforce and for the continuous learning and upgrading of employees' skill set.” (Alavi, & Leidner, 2001, p. 2). It can be difficult and expensive for organizations to release a number of staff for fixed training. Employers often prefer TML since it provides employees flexibility and convenience to increase skill level when it is conducive to employee's schedules and without being released from the work station. With an increasing number of organizations focusing “on internal capabilities for success, training is no longer a cost center but a strategic one.” (Gupta & Bostrom, 2009, p. 687). Moreover, TML has reduced the need for organizations to hire a internal and external consultant to train employees.” Training is one of the most common methods companies employ to enhance the productivity of individuals and to communicate organizational goals to new employees.” (Smith & Reed, 2008, p. 1).
“The trend in TML investment is highly visible in both organizations and academic institutions.” (Gupta & Bostrom, 2009, p. 687). In 2008, "U.S. organizations with 100 or more employees spent $134.39 billion on formal training, with 32.6 percent performed through technology mediation." (ASTD, 2008). By the end of 2009, Gartner predicts that "60 percent of core business processes and software will include a TML component." (Gartner, 2004).
III. BACKGROUND OF LAW FIRM X
FirmX is a private law firm with headquarters in Chicago and satellite offices in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, D.C. The law firm provides legal counsel and advice regarding client’s legal rights and responsibilities in civil, corporate and government cases, business transactions and numerous other practice areas. The firm has an outstanding record of providing legal services to public service and pro bono advocacy In the DC office, there are approximately seventy attorneys and forty-five support staff, which consist of legal secretaries, assistants, and paralegals.
IV. DISCUSSION OF CURRENT BUSINESS ISSUES
“There is a widespread recognition that organizations need to continuously enhance their capabilities to retain a competitive edge in a highly complex business environment.” (Hazarika, 2008, p. 63). Today’s attorneys have different secretarial needs and expectations. This generation expects secretaries to possess intermediate and advanced skills in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Secretarial skills such as dictation, shorthand, etc. have been replaced with innovative technology. Today's secretaries are required to be highly proficient in working in multiple documents simultaneously, inserting an excel spreadsheet in a Word document, generate a table of contents, coordinate video and VoIP conferences, and create PowerPoint presentations, graphics, etc.
Presently, a significant number of secretaries at FirmX do not possess proficient skill sets. For many years, were not encouraged or held accountable to attend training classes to improve their proficiency. In the last year, FirmX attempted to increase secretarial proficiency by offering training workshops. However, problems arose when secretaries were away to attend training classes. The firm did not want the added expense of hiring temporary workers. The firm attempted to solve this issue by scheduling training sessions in the morning and afternoon. Nonetheless, attorneys complained that their assigned relief secretary often did not possess the skill set they needed to effectively assist them. For example, if a secretary supported an attorney who required advanced PowerPoint skills, the covering secretary may not be proficient in this area since her attorneys did not work in PowerPoint.
FirmX's intended outcome is to ensure that all secretaries are proficient in all areas and can cover any attorney regardless of their area of expertise or secretarial needs. The need for advanced training is critical if FirmX wants to remain competitive as technology-mediated learning environments are designed as solutions to challenges the firm faces in the complex, rapidly changing business environment. Statistics have revealed that technology-mediated environments present important opportunities for fostering learning.
A large number of Firm X’s support staff have resisted the desktop online training software by withholding information about their current skill set, failing to fill out questionnaire to assist trainers, malicious compliance and failing to implement change. Employees resist change for several reasons. Some simply do not like change, there is an attachment to the established organizational culture/identity, and employees want and expect situations to remain unchanged. Moreover, "employees have a discomfort with uncertainty, a lack of conviction that change is needed or a lack of clarity as to what is expected." (Palmer, Dunford, & Akin, 2008, p. 163). To build support for change and minimize resistance, leaders must maintain clear focus, identify resistors, determine whether further analysis of change should be made, and respect the resistors and treat their views with respect. (Palmer, Dunford & Akin, 2008).
In order to successfully implement the desktop tutorial, the firm must develop effective strategy for assigning secretaries whose knowledge, skill, abilities, and experience match the attorney needs. For example, if attorneys require a secretary that is proficient in creating and editing PowerPoint slides, it would be illogical to assign them a secretary with basic PowerPoint skills. The firm must create long and short-term strategic goals that are aligned with the firm’s vision and mission. “Effective strategies are the means of pursing the vision and mission.” (Carter, 2008, p. 20). The strategy should address key issues such as “What is the firm trying to do with TutorPro? Is the right change for our firm? Who will be the resistors and how can we minimize the resistance? All these questions provide a platform in identifying the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats to the change initiative.
V. PROPOSED SOLUTION
Web-based technology has a dramatic impact on learning and teaching. FirmX purchased TutorPro, a technology-mediated technology software tutorial for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. Secretaries can access this tutorial 24-7 on their desktop. The software modules teach basic, intermediate and advanced concepts. TutorPro is a 100% web-based blended learning management system (BLMS) that enables organizations to manage and integrate various types of training. (Tutor Pro, e-learning). Users of this software are able to randomly select topics and create their own training schedules. Most modules can be completed in fifteen minutes. The advantages of implementing technology-mediated technology include:
• Drastically reduces help desk calls and the need for in-house trainers. Since the implementation of TutorPro, the firm laid off one trainer in the DC office and three trainers and two help desk employees in the Chicago office; all offices call one designated help desk number for assistance.
• Reduces learning curve on new applications and builds employee skill set and confidence;
• Secretaries are not away from their desk while on TutorPro, this permits secretaries to answer phones and handle other tasks simultaneously;
• Provides training materials in a single location; and
• Tracks employee usage and assists in the personal growth of employee.
The software was rolled out about a year ago; the firm created a pilot program with secretaries using the tutorial to solicit comments, suggestions, and work out glitches and issues with the software. Once an employee has mastered a module, they are tested to assess proficiency. There is an unlimited amount of time to use the tutorial and take the quizzes.
Beginning in 2010, secretarial staff will be tested online on their proficiency in Word, Excel and PowerPoint. Secretaries must complete ten hours of instruction from TutorPro every year. The tests results are a determining factor in annual increases and year-end bonuses. In order to receive a raise, employees must successfully pass Word, Excel, and PowerPoint with an 80% score in each area. Employees who fail to attain an 80% may retake the test. It is not yet clear how many times an employee can take the test. The intended outcome of this change is to ensure that all secretaries are proficient in all areas and can cover any attorney regardless of their area of expertise or secretarial need.
VI. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
In order to revitalize firms for effective change, it is vital to reorganize employees’ roles, responsibilities, and relationships to solve specific business problems are an important part of corporate renewal. (Beer, 1990, p. 2). In order to improve the structure process of implementing change initiatives, organizations must develop a shared vision of how to “organize and manage for competitiveness, promote consensus for the new vision, competence to enact, it and cohesion to move it along.” (Beer, M. 1990, p.1). Simply put, employees need to know and understand how the change will affect them and their future with the firm.
The firm can test their readiness for change by understanding how employees will respond to change, how to plan change, and how to manage both the human and organizational aspects of change. Setting both short and long-term objectives are strongly related to the drivers of change and therefore, evolve around cost reduction, increase staff proficiency levels, cultural alignment, and operational effectiveness and efficiency. Short-term objectives and benefits lie in operational improvements and improved communication. (Myer, 2007).
Recommendations (Three-Year Timeline)
• After first year of TutorPro training, Firm X will add other forms of online technology such as webinars covering topics as improving time management skills, coping with stress in the workplace, enhancing writing skills, e-mail etiquette, etc. All features will be accessed from their desktop. The firm will create reference books for easy access.
• Second Year -- Increase knowledge of help desk personnel to assist employees with questions or problems with TutorPro. Add billing feature to TutorPro menu. Secretaries enter attorneys time spent on each case. At the end of the month, an invoice is generated that is sent to the client. Currently billing is not on Tutor Pro or part of orientation but since it is one of the most important tasks a legal secretary is required to do, it is imperative that proper training be implemented promptly.
• FirmX must implement TutorPro as part of the orientation process. Staff should have a minimum of three-day training where they can determine their strength and weaknesses and create a strategic plan on how to improve their weaknesses using the online tutorial.
• FirmX must improve communication efforts with staff regarding the specific details of the process. Mass communication efforts such as websites, face-to-face communication, video presentations and interoffice newsletters work well in building awareness regarding new initiatives and piquing staff interest in more effective instructional strategies. Honest and frequent communication will minimize resistance to this change initiative.
• Third Year --- FirmX will implement policies for rewards and incentives to encourage staff to engage in training and development efforts, to recognize achievement, and to foster continuing staff support. FirmX should consider utilizing employees to volunteer to train coworkers on areas where they possess extensive knowledge and expertise. This would ultimately reduce the need to have trainers in each office.
FirmX can increase their success of implementing TutorPro by developing and organizing strategic plans. FirmX must clearly identify their primary goals and objectives for TutorPro based on their mission and vision statements. Moreover, they must also examine factors such as "understanding market forces, internal strengths and weaknesses, stakeholders, relevant technology, and legal and regulatory factors." (Developing and deploying strategic plans).
FirmX's resources and capabilities together form its distinctive competencies. "These competencies enable innovation, efficiency, quality, and customer responsiveness, all of which can be leveraged to create a differentiation advantage." (Competitive Advantage, 1999-2007). FirmX's goal is to position itself in their industry through differentiation advantage by developing highly-skilled employees who can quickly deliver superior quality documents, graphics, etc. This will allow FirmX to create a competitive advantage that ultimately results in superior value creation. (See Figure 2).
VII. ATTACHMENTS -- FIGURE 1
Conceptual Model of Technology-Mediated Learning
A Model of Competitive Advantage
Figure 1: Conceptual Model of Technology-Mediated Learning Figure 1: Conceptual Model of
Alavi, M., & Leidner, D. (2001). Research Commentary: Technology-Mediated Learning--A Call for Greater Depth and Breadth of Research. Information Systems Research, 12(1), 1. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.
ASTD. (2008). ASTD state of the industry report.
Attachment - Figure 1 Gupta, S. & Bostrom, R. (2009). Technology-mediated learning: A comprehensive theoretical model. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(9), 686-714. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database. (Attachment) - Figure 1) Reference.
Beer, M. (1990). Why change programs do not produce change. Harvard Business Review.
Carter, E. (2008). Successful change requires more than change management. Journal for Quality & Participation, 31(1), 20-23. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Competitive advantage. (1999-2007). QuickMBA. Retrieved February 3, 2010 from http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/competitive-advantage.
Gartner, (2004). Forecast: e-learning software. Worldwide, 2002-20008 Executive Summary).
Gupta, S., & Bostrom, R. (2009). Technology-mediated learning: A comprehensive theoretical model. Journal of the Association for Information Systems, 10(9), 686-714. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.
Hazarika, A. (2008). Leading and executing industry change through a learning network. vikalpa: The Journal for Decision Makers, 33(3), 63-77. Retrieved from Business Source Premier database.
Meyer, J., Srinivas, E., Lal, J., & Topolnytsky, L. (2007). Employee commitment and support for an organizational change: Test of the three-component model in two cultures. Journal of Occupational & Organizational Psychology, 80(2), 185-211. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
Palmer, I., & Dunford, R. & Akin, Gib. (2008). Managing organizational change, 2nd edition. McGraw-Hill.
Shuell, T & Lee, Z. (1976). Learning and instructions. Brooks-Cole, Monterey, CA.
Smith, B., & Reed, P. (2008). Greater flexibility for learning. Nursing Standard, 23(1), 64. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier database.
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