Technology And Learning In Higher Education Free Essay

Determining the ultimate goals and objectives of higher education is a difficult task to accomplish considering its broad compass and the cornucopia of categories that are necessary to compartmentalize it. For instance, the quintessence, the significance, and the aims of higher education differ under various settings or circumstances. This thought may be represented by the varying educational principles or philosophies that establish the foundation of higher education in different countries.

For instance, in the United States, the foundation of higher education, although adapted from the British and German systems of tertiary schooling, is inimitable because it adheres to three philosophical principles that relate to popularly accepted American way of life. According to Eckel and King (2004), esteemed members of the American Council on Education, the cornerstones of higher education in the United States are democracy, capitalism, equality, and social development. Later on, the concepts underlying economics and sociology were integrated into the system of higher education to make it more conventional. (Eckel & King, 2004)

On the other hand, nation building is the principal core of the higher education system in Japan. Apparently, the structure of higher education was developed as an opportunity for the country’s citizens to contribute to national growth and advancement, most importantly to the rise of Japan’s economy. Both the public and private institutions of higher education in Japan were sitting rooms for students to contribute their knowledge and skills in looking for means to fuel national development through “university-based research activities.” (Enders & Jongbloed, 2008)

In Australia, the higher education system does not only focus on economic development. Since the nation values the society and environment, Australia’s system of higher education also aims for cultural enrichment and environmental awareness. Through Australia’s desire for economic, social, and environmental development, educational institutions become the hosts of professional advancement, which the nation believes to be the first major step in achieving national goals. (Department of Education, Employment, and Workplace Relations, N.D.)

Nevertheless, despite these differences, we realize that all systems of higher education observed in various nations, although influenced by various philosophies, principles, ideologies, or schools of thought, converge at one point. That is, higher education is crucial to growth, advancement, or development of all sorts. For this reason, higher education institutions from all parts of the globe continually seek various avenues and opportunities available in order to enhance their systems of higher education. This is where the integration of technology comes in. Apparently, the infusion of technology to higher education has greatly influenced all systems of tertiary learning.

We are living in the digital age. Technology has overridden various aspects of human living from business to sports, communication to transportation, domestic life to social life, and in this case of course, education. The integration and utilization of technology, for the most, part has improved the human condition. As we may have well experienced or observed, technology has provided a convenient way to communicate with other people despite the distance, fulfill various tasks or responsibilities,  sometimes simultaneously as it endows us with the ability to work efficiently and multi-task, travel expediently and confidently from one place to the next through Global Positioning Systems (GPS), and so on.  Because of the many perceived benefits and advantages of technology, it too was made a significant part of education.

In various institutions of higher education, such as colleges and universities, technology is being utilized for numerous purposes. For the most part, the infusion of technology in higher education primarily gave birth to the virtual classroom, school, or university. Although the conventional classroom setup is still prevalent in higher education institutions, some schools such as the Pennsylvania State University provide opportunities for students under distinctive and justifiable circumstances to attend online colleges or universities in order to afford them the unique opportunity to learn. (Ryan & Miller, 2000)

The virtual classroom evidently allows all eligible students to earn a degree in higher education no matter where they are in the world. Online college or university portals, course websites, electronic libraries, and such technological affordances enable the students to access school resources, such as libraries, and attend classes through a unique online blackboard or discussion system. (Lynch, 2002; Palloff & Pratt, 2007) Gunawardena and McIsaac (2004) said, “Due to the rapid development of technology, courses using a variety of media are being delivered to students in various locations in an effort to serve the educational needs of growing populations.”

Aside from the development of virtual higher education institutions, colleges and universities take advantage of the contributions and advantages of technology by infusing it into the school’s facilities and physical resources. Colleges and universities allocate part of the school funds for the purpose of adding, maintaining, or improving their technological facilities. Perhaps the most common digital tool utilized in colleges and universities is the computer. For instance, the University of Texas in Austin, Utah relies on its Faculty Computing Committee (FCC) to create and implement a plan that covers the “development and funding of campus-wide academic computing facilities and services.” (Decker, Schulman, & Blandy, 2000) In this particular project, the University was able to develop one department called the Center for Instructional Technologies or CIT that was tasked to select technological tools that would develop the University’s higher education programs. At present, the utilization of computers as a dominant medium of instruction at the university is prevalent. (Decker, Schulman, & Blandy, 2000)

Perhaps the most difficult challenge for higher education institutions, as compared with the obtainment of technological tools and digitization of academic facilities, is the selection or design of technology and its equivalence with instructional objectives. Of course, the purpose of education shall only be achieved if the necessary knowledge or information, skills or competencies, and such, are conveyed or passed on to learners.

Thus, higher education institutions are arranging a unique instructional design as compared with the primary and secondary education institutions, in order to accomplish its numerous goals and objectives. The greatest challenge is retorting to the inquiry of how technology shall be used positively and constructively to match the instructional design of higher education and not otherwise. The question of whether technology positively or negatively influences higher education remains to be significant.

By and large, despite the many uses and contributions of technology to higher education, the primary motivation or objective of colleges and universities in fusing technology with the entirety of the Academe is the perceived product of improving the design of pedagogy and enhance learning opportunities. Consequently, higher education institutions believe this shall be able to pave way for their full realization of their ultimate educational goals, objectives, aims, principles, philosophies, mission, vision, and so on. However, what we need to find out, as previously discussed, are the answers to inquiries regarding the real contributions of technology to higher education.

We need to determine what the genuine or actual benefits and advantages of technology are including its weaknesses and disadvantages. In doing so, we shall not only be able to identify the effects of technology but also answer, in the process, whether the benefits and advantages of technology outweigh the risks and disadvantages that come along with its integration to higher education. Through this, we shall be able to fully realize the impact of technology to higher education and consequently grasp its value or significance, and even insignificance to tertiary learning.

Numerous research studies conducted throughout the years have looked into various angles of technology and higher education. Some research studies aimed to identify the kind of technological tools utilized in higher education institutions, while others sought to determine the impact of technology to higher education. Other objectives of research studies covered the relevance or irrelevance of learning styles, instructional objectives, etc. to the efficiency of applying technology in higher learning. The primary objectives of these research studies, as well as their results, shall be discussed in the remainder of this discussion with the central focus on the influence of various learning styles to the results of integrating technology to higher education.

Apart from this objective, this discussion shall also cover the history of technology from its association with higher education and its contribution through all those years until today. Discussion about technology shall also include the narration of the various kinds of tools, gadgets, or devices being utilized in higher education institutions and the identification of their contributions, benefits, advantages, disadvantages, and weaknesses.

In order to expand the scope of this discussion and accomplish the true nature of its purpose, the largest part shall be committed to the discussion of the various learning styles and learning processes inherent in students and the underlying principles or philosophies that define them. This information shall be utilized to determine whether the design of technological tools and devices utilized in higher education institutions match the learning styles of students. Through this, we shall understand whether learning styles and processes affect the efficiency of technology.

A Brief History of Technology in Higher Education

According to Farmer (2005), “In the late 1960s and 1970s computer-based training (CBT) appeared to provide new alternatives for meeting public policy goals of universal access to higher education, equal opportunity for success, and sharply lower unit costs of instructions.” Ever since the invention of the computer, inventors, scientists, and other great thinkers from various fields of knowledge have continually thought about how this technology may be able to contribute to various aspects of human life, including the transfer of knowledge and higher education. The educational system has truly evolved since the dawn of the age of technology as it opened up various avenues in which learning takes place. The landscape of education broadened and the educational philosophies were adjusted in order to accommodate the attributes and challenges that technology poses to the perceived results or outcomes of learning.

As Losco and Fife (2000) precisely defined, “It is a truism in organizational studies that changing technology affects various and contingent changes in the organization and in the conduct of work within the organization,” being that ‘organization’ refers to the institution of higher education. In addition, Duderstadt, Atkins, and Van Houweling (2002) said that “To members of today’s university faculties, the extraordinary pace of evolution of this technology has more personal significance since their careers, indeed, their lives have both spanned and been shaped by the history of this technology.”

Of course, the association of technology and higher education, or the entirety of education for that matter, began when the Academe realized the potential of technology in enhancing the Pedagogical Process, specifically Information Technology or IT. Apparently, the Academic Institution saw that IT was an “agent” or medium for change. Proctor (2009) said that “Information Technology’s place in history as a change agent is well documented, as its impact on society, change, and is evident in the increased use, acceptance, and integration in today’s education system.”

However, we should remember that technology is the product of learning or education. It may be assumed that technology began when educated people learned about its mechanisms in universities. In fact, it has been noted that in 1946, several universities were actively involved in the development of computers that were made from vacuum tubes. The technology continued to evolve throughout the years until it was considered unqualified for use in the field of education. It was in the 1960’s when government efforts were directed to the obtainment of funds for purchases and donations of computers to schools, colleges, and universities. (California State University, Long Beach, N.D.)

Microcomputers, an innovation from mainframe computers, were adapted in education for the purpose of launching computer-assisted instruction (CAI). As the term implies, microcomputers were used only to assist the learners in terms of helping them master their skills and competencies. The inability of microcomputers to facilitate directly the transfer of knowledge to the students was a known fact. (Schifter, 2008)

During the 1980’s, schools were using the LOGO and the BASIC, computer programs that diversified learning by making it exciting and interactive. The primary objective in the classroom use of LOGO and BASIC was based on the belief that the learners needed to be taught how to operate the computer. The learning process was only secondary. Through AppleWorks, programs and applications available in computers were varied because the Academe saw that computers should also contribute to the learning successes of the students. Thus, “AppleWorks integrated suite of applications… provided classrooms with word processing, spreadsheet, database, paint, and draw applications all integrated for seamless transfer between options.” (Schifter, 2008)

The continued capitalization of funding, research studies, designs, and experiment, from both public and private sectors, on the development of technology consequently led to the conception of the Internet, web education tools, communication devices, computer programs and applications, and such, which are fit for teaching and learning. Schools, colleges, and universities eventually adapted them, not only to advance their learning programs, facilities, etc. for the benefit of the students and stakeholders, but also to provide contemporary education in order to compete with other academic institutions. (Mishra, Koehler, & Zhao, 2007; Goldin & Katz, 2008; Schifter, 2008)

Kinds of Technology Utilized in Higher Education and their Attributes

Perhaps one of the most valuable technologies in colleges or universities that appeals to the goal of providing accessible education or equal learning opportunities for all is Assistive Technology (AT). ATs are most important in allowing the disadvantaged, disabled or handicapped, to earn higher education degrees. “The emergence of Free Software extends to assistive technologies themselves; we now have open source screen-readers, on screen keyboards, and other accessibility utilities.” (Craddock, 2003)

The accessibility of ATs benefits learners with various disabilities or handicaps. For instance, school facilities in libraries, audio-visual, and multimedia rooms with ATs may have screen readers or audio description technology (Adams & Brown, 2006) that magnify texts and images or translate text into sounds respectively, for the benefit with learners experiencing sight impairments. On the other hand, “Text alternatives of spoken and important non-spoken sound information” (Adams & Brown, 2006) help convey knowledge to learners with hearing impairments.

At present, the most common and essential technologies that colleges and universities prevalently use are the Internet and wireless networking within campus grounds. Wireless networking allows students to connect to the World Wide Web inside the campus, allowing them the opportunity to access school resources made available online or third party resources that provide valuable information, perhaps for research purposes, ideas during classroom discussions, and such. In addition, the existence of the Internet in colleges or universities facilitates Internet-based learning and distance education. (Gunawadena & McIsaac, 2004; Hill, Wiley, Nelson, & Han, 2004)

Furthermore, within the university, the students may take advantage of the internet-based learning technology by accessing the virtual classroom, virtual library, course websites, online blackboards for discussions, and such. At present time, most colleges and universities have official online websites wherein portals for students are made available. Students who are enrolled at a college or university are given an online account within the college or university portal that may be accessed anytime. These portals act as an online director or planner of the students’ college or university life because they may contain class schedules, courses taken during the semester including respective professors or instructors, sections for course assignments, projects, instructions, or announcements, reminders for class or organization meetings, extra-curricular activities, and most importantly, online access to the university library. The virtual library allows students to access electronic books. This makes learning and researching more convenient. (Rogers & Howard, 2009; Hanson & Levin, 2003)

According to Hill, Wiley, Nelson, and Han (2004), the core concept of internet-based learning is the necessity of communication in the teaching and learning process, most importantly in distance education. As previously discussed based on the research study of Gunawadena and McIsaac (2004), distance learning is a learning opportunity for individuals around the world who are unable to attend the real college or university. Internet-based learning makes distance education possible because it allows and manages real-time communication, whether synchronous or asynchronous, between the teacher and the learner or the learner to another learner. (Hill, Wiley, Nelson, & Han, 2004)

Other technologies utilized in higher education are considered soft technologies or softwares. Majority of these softwares are instructional in nature. Microworlds is an example of an instructional soft technology. Reiber (2004), from the University of Georgia said that “microworlds is based on… those of invention, play, and discovery. Instead of seeking to give students knowledge passed down from one generation to the next… the aim is to give students resources to build and refine their knowledge in personal and meaningful ways.” Other soft technologies include online games and simulations, programmed instruction, and hyptertexts. On the other hand, hard technologies are tangible tools or devices utilized to facilitate instruction. Common hard technologies include LCD projectors and computers for multimedia presentations, film showing, and such, tablet PCs for student use inside the classroom, etc.

The Integration of Technology in Higher Education (8p)

As previously discussed, determining the influence of technology in higher education necessitates an exploration of the various learning styles and processes. In doing so, we shall be able to determine whether learning styles and processes are external factors or variables that bear weight on how technology affects higher education.

The concept of “individual differences” is the principle behind the variation in student learning styles and processes. This means that human beings have diverse inherent characters or attributes that give them a unique style of learning and understanding information. (Forest & Kinser, 2002) For instance, an individual is more likely to learn through a deductive teaching approach while another understands concepts and principles better when they are taught in reverse. Considering the learning styles of students in terms of how they are to be taught, more specifically through technological means, is a learner-centered approach of transferring knowledge that is most likely to succeed in accomplishing the goals and objectives of education. Clearly put, “Making sure that resources are matched with learning styles can maximize the learning experience for students.” (Bach, Haynes, & Smith, 2006)

Therefore, the adaption of technology as a medium of instruction necessitates an evaluation or assessment of the learning styles and processes that exists within the classroom. This ascertains the efficiency of utilizing technology in transferring knowledge and ensuring that the students fully learn in the process.

Types of Learning Styles and Processes

One of the earliest theories or philosophies concerning learning styles was Lynn Curry’s typology of how human beings learn. According to Curry, there are three factors affecting learning which she called the typology of learning styles. These three factors are personality, information-processing, and instructional preferences. In order to substantiate her assumptions, she utilized several assessment tools including the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, Witkin Embedded Figure Test, and Matching Familiar Figure Test to quantify and interpret personality; the Hunt Paragraph Completion Method, Inventory of Learning Processes, and Learning Style Inventory to determine how students learn through information-processing; and the Canfield and Lafetty Learning Styles Inventory, Dunn, Dunn, and Price Learning Style Inventory, Cognitive Style Interest Inventory, and Student Learning Style Scales to ascertain the preferences of human beings when it comes to the method, process, etc. of instruction. (Forest & Kinser, 2002) Curry’s learning styles typology clearly suggest a learning-centered approach in designing the pedagogical process by considering the personal attributes and interests of the students.

Curry’s model on learning styles serves as a standard that guides how knowledge is to be taught specifically when educational institutions decide to utilize new media such as technology. Employing the assessment tests recommended by Curry in determining personality traits, information-processing, and instructional preferences helps in discovering whether a new medium to facilitate learning shall be accepted by the learners and thus yield desirable results and designing the pedagogical process in order to adapt the new medium of instruction efficiently. The results of the assessment tests on the students shall ascertain whether the new medium of instruction, assuming it is technology, motivates the students with regards to their personality, helps improve information-processing skills of the students, and suit their preferred method or medium of instruction, or otherwise. Ultimately, Curry’s model contributes to the development of a pedagogical process that improves the learning situation of the students.

One of the most popular theories on learning styles is Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences. According to Gardner, there are nine types of learners: the bodily-kinesthetic, existential, interpersonal, intrapersonal, mathematical-logical, musical, naturalistic, verbal-linguistic, and visual-spatial learners. (Davis, 2009) Like Curry’s typology of learners, Gardner’s multiple intelligences make teaching or instruction a difficult task considering the learning styles or preferences of students have become extensive. Again, it supports the concept of individual differences and variations or diversity in instruction. Since accommodating all types of learners in a single method or approach of instruction is difficult, the relevance of resorting to new media of instruction, such as technology, becomes necessary. In fact, technology might be able to contribute to the resolution of this endeavor since it has the ability to accomplish multiple tasks simultaneously and aid the teacher efficiently during instruction.

Another model of learning preference is Kolb’s model of four types of learners. According to Kolb, the students may be categorized into four groups: the convergers or experimental and abstract thinkers, the divergers or the observers and experiential learners, the assimilators or observers and abstract thinkers, and the accommodators or the experiential and experimental learners. Each group is unique such that their interests and the processes by which they learn best are extreme. (Davis, 2009) When we put learning under the context of Kolb’s model, we realize the necessity of employing varied processes or approaches of teaching or instruction. Although there are such things as routine activities and consistency in teaching so as to create a familiar, encouraging, and constructive learning environment, variety and diversity in instruction is required in order to reach out to all the students despite their differences.

The VARK model of learning styles also recommend variety and diversity in instruction, but it also stresses on making instructional processes or approaches ‘multi-dynamic.’ The VARK model categorizes students into visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic or active learners. Research studies have proven that individuals “have one pre-dominant style for learning new information, although styles may vary by task and situation.” (Davis, 2009) Therefore, the VARK model encourages a ‘multi-dynamic’ approach in learning, such that instructional processes or materials appeal to the visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic learners. I believe that applying the VARK model in designing instruction proves the importance of technology more than ever since it can facilitate learning through the means of multimedia.

If learning styles are attributed mainly to the characteristics of learners, learning processes pertain to how students learn and how learning is facilitated through teaching. For instance, the learning process might be influenced by overall instructional goals or objectives such as literacy competence or the development of social skills, or the results of student evaluation or assessment that determine what each student need to learn or perfect. Consequently, these factors necessitate the employment of various learning processes. One kind of learning process is guided inquiry through observation and personal efforts. (Kuhlthau, Caspari & Maniotes, 2007)

According to Kuhlthau, Caspari, and Maniotes (2007), “Guided inquiry is composed of an inquiry unit that engages students in their own learning, with instruction and guidance at strategic points along the way, in the zone of intervention.” This means that guided inquiry is a learning process in itself. However, since not all learning styles match the process of guided inquiry, which makes it difficult to accomplish instructional goals and objectives, intervention is required before, during, or after the learning process in order to ensure that the primary concepts, information, knowledge, skills, etc. are actually being transmitted to students.

For example, the act of intervening during the learning process of guided inquiry may be through the application of technology. Since “Students are looking for sources of information and advice on how to find useful, relevant, and pertinent sources of facts and ideas” (Kuhlthau, Caspari, and Maniotes 2007) during guided inquiry, this quest for knowledge may be aided by the capacity of technological tools, such as the computer to generate, store, retrieve, and manipulate data efficiently. This scenario proves that efforts of higher education institutions in developing or improving learning processes employed also necessitates the application of new medium of instruction or learning facilitation including technology. These ideas do not stray away from the supposition that the employment of new media of instruction should be based on learning styles and processes and the primary goal of proving the impact of technology on education.

Implications

Diversity and variety in learning styles and processes are inexorable in education due to individual differences, as previously discussed, and a wide-ranging mix of learning processes that differ in structure. This is why the concept of ‘individual differences’ and the identification of various learning styles and processes have been one of the most important considerations in designing instruction and selecting and implementing instructional tools, materials, methods, approaches, and such. For these reasons, when we talk about the utilization or application of new media of instruction, the necessity of accurate evaluation or assessment not only the interests and preferences of the students but also of the media is of great consequence.

By and large, the new medium of instruction shall only be able to accomplish the goals of education and learning if it is able to facilitate efficiently the transfer of knowledge in terms of its reception or acknowledgment from the students. This acceptance or acknowledgement is based on how the medium matches student interests and preferences, as well as how it efficiently contributes to the improvement of learning processes.

In terms of technology, which is the primary focus of this discussion, we may view its significance in education in two ways. First, it should be utilized judiciously since not all learners may favor it as a means to learn and that it does not appeal to all learning styles and processes. Second, educational institutions should value the capacity of technology to accomplish various tasks at once, which is imperative in targeting multiple learning styles or processes at one time increasing success in higher education.

Ultimately, the acknowledgement and identification of the various learning styles and processes should be one of the major considerations of educational institutions. Apparently, this purpose is extremely important in determining learning goals and objectives, designing the curriculum or educational programs, structuring the pedagogical process and instructional approach, the continuing delivery or transfer of knowledge and the decisions made during instruction, and the selection of media of instruction.

The Effects of Technology: Changing the Landscape of Higher Education

Like the majority of conclusions or generalizations on various sorts of issues or matters, technology also has positive and negative implications on how higher education has been changing or evolving since the institution’s adaption of technology as a medium of instruction. Numerous research studies have been conducted in order to prove how technology contributes or destroys higher education.

Since the variance of facts seems to make the matter at hand more complex, I believe that the issue warrants an open mind in order to obtain the best out of it and pave way for the development of higher education. The presentation of the positive and negative attributes of technology provides an opportunity for higher education institutions to develop their systems of learning by determining the setbacks brought about by technology and looking for ways to evade or thwart them, and then finally understanding how technology contributes to learning and taking advantage of these contributions for the purpose of providing a desirable learning environment for human beings.

Higher education institutions are at an advantage when it comes to the utilization of technology if we value how it defies the limitations of education and extends its scope, and efficiently helps in the direct or indirect transfer of knowledge or information. One of the primary problems in higher education that greatly impacts its value to the people and nations is accessibility to educational programs and opportunities. (Martin, 2005) For instance, in developing countries such as Sri Lanka Brazil, Puerto Rico, etc., “All attempts to extend education are dependent on adequate teaching resources.” (Leonard, 2006) Apparently, the lacking number of teachers in higher education institutions have made it impossible in these countries to increase access to education. However, the utilization of technology has helped solved this problem. “Recently, technology has provided alternative teaching resources and been seen as an economic way to increase access to education.” (Leonard, 2006) The teaching-learning process was facilitated through radio broadcasts that “have also offered community education for over half a century.”  (Leonard, 2006)

Another strong argument, which contributes to the acknowledgement of the benefits and advantages of technology in increasing access to higher education, was expressed by Heller. According to Heller, “The evolving forms of virtual learning, which use the Internet and personal computers to expand and improve on the more traditional forms of distance education (television, videotape, mail), may hold great potential for expanding access to higher education to those students who cannot make their way to a college campus for any reason – time or schedule commitments, family responsibilities, or geographical or physical barriers.” (Heller, 2001) Technology eliminates challenges, difficulties, and even stress and pressure that aspiring learners might experience that reduces the possibility of their obtainment of a degree in higher or education or discourages them from attending colleges or universities. Under the context of accessible higher education, technology ultimately helps students with major familial obligations, part-time or full time jobs, and disabilities or impairments.

Another contribution of technology to higher education is the improvement of the teaching process. As concisely expressed by Kobayashi (2008) , “It is widely accepted that technology has the potential to improve teaching learning activities… technology possesses many capabilities to perform a variety of teacher training functions, including accessing information from several data bases via the Internet, construct knowledge, conduct efficiently teaching tasks, develop high quality materials and media – print, electronic, digitalized, multimedia, etc. – as well as other functions.”

It is always part of the goals and objectives of pedagogy to continually seek out new opportunities and avenues by which the teaching process is to be improved in order to maximize learning for the students. It will always look out for the interest of the students in the efforts of higher education institutions that they are equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills, competencies, and such to succeed in their future endeavors consequently boosting the success of their family, community, and nation alike. The contributions of technology make these aims possible because it causes the teaching process to be more efficient. For instance, the lecture method may become more interesting with the aid of multimedia presentations that facilitate lectures and discussions, while scientific concepts are better learned with technologies that make simulations possible.

Aside from improving the teaching process, technology also advances its counterpart, which is the learning process, by helping students become independent learners. Apparently, technology encourages self-guided learning. (Maier & Warren, 2000) The availability of numerous data or information in the World Wide Web and the existence of computer programs or applications, tools, gadgets, etc. that serve as guides for learning allow college students to continue learning even without the help of their teachers. In due course, with knowledge of how to utilize technological tools and devices and the sensibleness that comes with age in order to determine truthful or non-truthful information in the Internet, college students obtain the freedom to widen their knowledge and help the higher education institution accomplish its educational goals and objectives.

Apart from technology’s offerings to higher education, it also helps colleges and universities organize or systematize the management of these institutions. Technology minimizes several problems that might arise from certain tasks and activities that need to be accomplished within colleges or universities including the enrollment process, the management (storage, retrieval, etc.) of information, networking, updating databases, controlling and monitoring finances, and so on. The objective to systematize university-related tasks or activities necessitate the employment of a structured technological system. For instance, Oncourse is an enterprise that develops partnerships with colleges or universities for ‘course management portals.’ Oncourse connects with the school’s enrollment database in order to keep track of the students enrolled in colleges and universities including the courses that they take. (Jafari  & Sheehan, N.D.)

Oncourse “automatically enables and disables students’ and faculty access to courses and other resources based on the course registration data… offers dynamic services to the entire population of the university through direct connectivity to the university database system providing up-to-date access to relevant course enrollment data.” (Jafari  & Sheehan, N.D.) Technology has digitized all pertinent information that keeps higher education institutions manage their technical responsibilities. Gone were the days when the processing of enrollment and course registration took time because it was handled manually through several paper works. The application of technology makes technical responsibilities within colleges or universities less difficult and more efficient due to faster and more accurate computing and processing.

Despite the great offerings of technology to higher education, it has also impacted higher education institutions less constructively. Of course, the many contributions of technology come with a price that has changed the structure and priorities of higher education institutions significantly. We all know that the acquisition of technological systems is expensive. Nevertheless, most colleges and universities nowadays find that they cannot do without the utilization of technology if they are to compete with other educational institutions for support in terms of the student population, state and federal acknowledgement, and assistance and endorsements from stakeholders. For these reasons, the priorities of colleges and universities have shifted from simply improving the quality of education that they provide to the acquisition of financial support from various parties in order to obtain state of the art technological systems.

The change in the goals and objectives of some higher education institutions have gained negative responses from various stakeholders. Many of them say that higher education has succumbed to commercialization and capitalism. “In times of shrinking public funds for higher education,” which limits the possibility of acquiring technological systems, “institutions have been called upon to operate on a business model by applying accounting principles and aiming for cost control and maximum revenues.” (Finkelstein & Sholz, 2000) The thing is, colleges and universities need to invest in technology not only for the benefit of the students but also to look out for the advancement of their institutions. Colleges and universities are not only educational institutions but also organizations. As organizations, their successes are not only measured with their accomplishment of educational mission, vision, and philosophies but also development in terms of expansion, population, support, and endorsements from stakeholders. (Finkelstein & Sholz, 2000)

Consequently, “With the high costs of IT investments, many institutions see new needs for commercial ventures, on their own and in partnership with private companies.” (Finkelstein & Sholz, 2000) Thus, “The need for money has driven higher education in this direction.” (Finkelstein & Sholz, 2000) These are the very reasons why colleges and universities take advantage of the necessity of technology in academics. They strongly support reform through technology and utilize it mainly for research purposes and capitalize on new inventions and discoveries by obtaining patents for them and selling them to the highest bidder, whether private or public. (Schiller, 2000; Boyle, 2005)

Due to the inclination of colleges and universities to resort to commercialization and capitalization as developmental strategies, many people have questioned their intentions and have doubted whether higher education institutions nowadays are still committed to provide quality education or are mainly concerned with financial growth. Not only do they spend large amounts of money to fund technological systems or facilities for their colleges or universities but they might also be merely looking out for their interests in emerging as capitalist organizations. (Schiller, 2000)

Due to the integration of technology the system of higher education, colleges and universities are faced with the challenge or difficulty of restructuring their organizations. Applying technology is not as simple as it may seem because it necessitates these colleges or universities to undergo several steps or procedures in preparation for the full integration of technology to these schools. According to Keeton, et. al. (2002), “effective pedagogy,” in terms of technology, “requires an infrastructure of staffing that includes instructional designers, graphics and media specialists, Web designers, and trainers.” In addition, the continuous application of technology necessitates regular maintenance and proper management from individuals or groups that possess the technical knowledge, skills, and competencies to do so.

For the said reasons, colleges and universities need to allocate funds or resources and time to equip college or university staff, including the teachers, with the proper and sufficient knowledge and skills on how to utilize various technological tools or devices that shall be adapted in the school system. This objective shall be accomplished through training programs and activities. Moreover, colleges or universities should also hire new staff members who shall oversee the maintenance and management of said technological tools and devices. (Petrides, 2000; Barber, 2006)

The Digital Divide, which refers to the wall or barrier that categorizes people or nations into two in terms of technology, also impact higher education. As previously mentioned, the adaption of technology within colleges or universities is extremely costly and not all higher education institutions are capable of pooling their resources in order to acquire such implement into their system. Thus, under the context of educational advancement through technology, all colleges and universities are divided into two groups: institutions that have available funds to finance educational technologies and those that succumb to a less contemporary system of education without the most recent state-of-the art technologies. On the outset, the digital divide in colleges or universities may sound unproblematic but the situation does set forth serious implications.

The issue of equal access or opportunities to quality education arises in this situation. At present time, despite the many challenges and difficulties that come along with technology, we all realize that it bears great benefits and contributions to higher education since it facilitates learning and contributes to the generation of limitless information and knowledge that human beings need to succeed later on in life. (Duderstadt, Atkins, & Van Houweling, 2002; Primary Research Group & Fick, 2006)

So what does this mean then for students who attend colleges or universities that do not have enough funds to purchase educational technologies? Does this mean that the quality of education that they receive is less as compared to those who attend affluent colleges or universities? Perhaps of all the issues and impacts of technology to higher education, this is the most critical since technology bears weight on the kind of education that people shall be receiving from higher education institutions these days. These causes or effects of technology on higher education, including the several others previously mentioned make the system of higher education more complex.

Conclusion

In this discussion, we have comprehensively covered many issues related to technology and learning in the higher education system. We have established the fact that with the continuing growth and development of technology and its impact to various areas of life, it has become an invaluable part of education. It has suddenly become a necessity in colleges and universities transforming the system of higher education in the process.

Of course, there are many factors and issues that higher education institutions should consider when it comes to endeavors regarding the integration of technology to higher learning. As a new medium of instruction, technological tools and devices should be carefully assessed in order to determine whether they match the learning styles and process of teachers and students unique to a school. This is important in ensuring that the employment of technology is a surefire way of improving the quality of education and accomplishing the goals and objectives of these colleges and universities in ascertaining that the students learn necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies relevant to their lives.

Furthermore, colleges and universities, being academic institutions should be able to go through all the issues that go in hand with technology. As previously discussed, technology poses both positive and negative impacts to higher education, some even putting the future of the students at risks due to the detrimental influences of technology to higher education. Therefore, the main concern of colleges and universities should be on how they are to minimize the risks and disadvantages involved in the integration of technology to higher education in order to ensure that the changes it will entail to learning will be constructive and beneficial and not the opposite.

References

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  • Bach, S., Haynes, P., and Smith, J. L. (2006). Online Learning and Teaching in            Higher Education. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill International.
  • Barber, J. T. (2006). The Black Digital Elite: African American Leaders of the      Information Revolution. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Boyle, D. (2005). Schools or Markets?: Commercialism, Privatization, and School-        Business Partnerships. New York, NY: Routledge.
  • California State University, Long Beach. (N.D.) History, The History of Computers,
  •             and The History of Computers in Education. Retrieved 05 Jul 2009, from            California State University, Long Beach. Website:             http://www.csulb.edu/~murdock/histofcs.html
  • Craddock, G. M. (2003). Assistive Technology: Shaping the Future: AAATE’03.             Amsterdam, The Netherlands: IOS Press.
  • Davis, B. G. (2009). Tools for Teaching, 2nd Ed. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons.
  • Decker, M. L., Schulman, M., and Blandy, C. (2000). The Selection and   Implementation of a Web Course Tool at the University of Texas in Austin. In   Petrides, “Case Studies on Information             Technology in Higher Education,”          Chapter VII. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Inc.
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  • Duderstadt, J. J., Atkins, D. E., and Van Houweling, D. E. (2002). Higher Education     in the Digital Age: Technology Issues and Strategies for American Colleges      and Universities. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing Group.
  • Eckel, P. D. and King, J. E. (2004). An Overview of Higher Education in the United
  •             States: Diversity, Access, and the Role of the Marketplace. Retrieved 03 Jul       2009, from American Council on Education. Website:             http://www.acenet.edu/bookstore/pdf/2004_higher_ed_overview.pdf
  • Enders, J. and Jongbloed, B. (2008). Public-Private Dynamics in Higher Education.    Ratingen, Germany: Verlag.
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The Effect Of Welfare Reform

Abstract

     In any economic climate, there is always a segment of the population which is impoverished to the point where the receipt of welfare benefits is essential for survival.  However, this situation has become more acute in recent years, given the aging of the American population, a faltering economy, and the rapid increase in immigration (Kretsedemas, et al, 2004), substance abuse, and disabilities (Morgenstern, et al, 2006).  All of these factors have placed huge burdens on welfare systems in every state, as well as on the federal level, making the need for welfare reform critical as the success or lack thereof is considered (Lichter, et al, 2002).  However, this reform has definite effects that need to be discussed and studied.

     Given the increased need of welfare reform, this research will focus on the effects that welfare reform has had on the members of society who need welfare the most, as well as those who would abuse the system.  This leads to such inevitable questions as what is considered a level of success when reform is used, why one would try to implement welfare reform in such turbulent economic/social times, and whether or not there are effective ways to reform welfare without harming the truly needy for which welfare was intended in the first place.

     This research will utilize specific research methods, and lead to specific results, which will now be discussed.

Methods

     The conducting of this research will be accomplished through the review of relevant literature on the topic, including books, journal articles, magazine pieces and the like.  All of these will provide a wealth of valid data and information, leading to effective research and logical conclusions.

     The methods used will result in the final research being part historical account, part economic and social commentary, and part analytical research.  The conclusions that will be reached will have been done so based on established fact and logical conclusions, thereby dispelling many of the myths associated with welfare reform and opening the door for productive dialogue on the topic.

Results

     Upon completion of this research, not only will the reader fully understand what is actually meant by welfare reform, but will also understand why reform is so desperately needed as well as the effects that welfare will have, for better or for worse.

Conclusion

     In conclusion and summary, what is proposed in this research is a comprehensive, cutting edge piece of scholarship that will serve as a valid source of information for other students as well.

Works Cited

Kimble, L. (2005). Welfare Reform and the Revitalization of Inner City Neighborhoods. The Journal of African American History, 90(1-2), 178+.

Kretsedemas, P., Aparicio, A., Walters, R., & Rai, K. (2004). Immigrants, Welfare Reform, and the Poverty of Policy. Westport, CT: Praeger.

Lichter, D. T., & Jayakody, R. (2002). Welfare Reform: How Do We Measure Success?. 117+.

Morgenstern, J., & Blanchard, K. A. (2006). Welfare Reform and Substance Abuse Treatment for Welfare Recipients. Alcohol Research & Health, 29(1), 63+.

 

Effects Of Westpolitik On Germany

Abstract

Westpolitik is a term that describes the foreign policy that was adopted by Germany in the late 1890’s. The sole intention of this policy was designed to make German a leading power as it sought to expand, strengthen itself and a raise a formidable empire that would rival those that already existed. The policy demonstrated the aggressive approach that the German’s wanted to implement.  This aggressive nature resulted in friction with other nations. The policy sought two major developments; one was the expansion of the German colonies and the second was the development of a large High Seas Fleet.

The results of this policy have been said to range from the World War I, formation of the Great Power Diplomacy and its subsequent crisis, formation of alliances, Treaty signing, Military developments, isolations and encircling of German, government and constitutional changes as well as dynamic foreign policies adoption by various nations.

The Effects of Westpolitik on German’s International Position

Westpolitik describes the Germany’s foreign policy adopted with intentions to make Germany an expansive, strong and a formidable empire in several fronts in 1897. To many, this policy was seen as a precipitating factor towards the World War I. The aggressiveness exhibited by this foreign policy indeed rattled many powerful nations. Prior to this; the Germans had adopted realpolitik which emphasized on diplomacy based on practical and real scenarios rather than on ideological approaches. The then foreign minister, Bernhard von Bülow openly stated that Germany was implementing it. Parliamentary proceedings of December the 6th 1897, Bernhard stated that “…we do not want to place anyone into the shadow, but we also claim our place in the sun.” [1] Kaiser Wilhelm II initiated this policy in 1888 after the death of Wilhelm I. This radical shift in German’s foreign policy was in contrast with the opinion that had been held by Bismarck and Kasier Wilhelm I, who had widely held to the belief that Germany was a European giant with goals and objectives cutting across the entire European continent. Kaiser Wilhelm sought to make Germany a leading power with interest to the maritime and in the larger Europe.The Weltpolitik had two major dimensions. The first one was fast widening or expansion of German colonies in the world (colonization) and the second one was the development of a large navy to be at per with the France, US, Russia and the Japanese navies. The colonization policy had already been started by Bismarck and it led to Germany becoming the third largest colonial empire. The enactment of the 1898 Navy Law ushered in the dawn to threaten the British Empire.

This policy had with it various repercussions all-over Europe and the world in general. Namely, one of its effects was the destabilization of the Great Power diplomacy. Its aggressive nature caused friction with other foreign nations and was closely linked with Great Power diplomatic crises prior to the First World War. [2]. It’s quest to have its place “in the sun” caused discomfort to other large empires. Understandably, it meant that German had adopted a policy geared towards making an industrial giant by creating its own colonial empire to compete with it’s rivals. This was to be achieved by the progressive development and expansion of it High Seas Fleet (navy) with sole aim to oust the rivals namely the British. This caused what was known as the “Aglo-german naval race” as each empire tried to outdo the other. At home in Europe, the British Empire felt that this policy threatened their existence.

This policy was seen by many as a result of nationalism, an ideology that had shaped the history of the German’s for many years. As efforts prior were directed towards achieving the unification of the West and the East German, in this new policy, all efforts and resources were directed towards building an international powerhouse with establishment of a colonial empire being seen as the most viable option.

Mit Erlaubnis des Reichskanzlers gesammelt und herausgegeben von Johannes Penzler Fürst Bülows Reden nebst urkundlichen Beiträgen zu seiner Politik.. I. Band 1897–1903. Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1907. p. 6-8

Retrieved on 26th May 2010 from .http://www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/causeww1.htm

This policy was seen by many as a result of nationalism, an ideology that had shaped the history of the German’s for many years. As efforts prior were directed towards achieving the unification of the West and the East German, in this new policy, all efforts and resources were directed towards building an international powerhouse with establishment of a colonial empire being seen as the most viable option. The doctrine of “survival for the fittest” blended with nationalism which had existed provoked the nation with its notion that the fittest were to survive and if a nation by then was weak, it would be destroyed or its bargaining power drastically reduced.

This policy thus resulted in nations entering into treaty with each other.

The creation of two divisions in Europe, (Triple entente and Central Powers)cleared demonstrated the intricate balance that was to be considered and it was seen as a time bomb in triggering a war should either two nations enter into a war. [3]. This would immediately have resulted in the entrance by the other nations. This policy changed the stability mechanisms that had existed in Europe. This Entete comprising Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy agreed to support each other if attacked by either Russia or France. This made France feel threatened and together with Britain which also felt the same, they signed the Entete Cordiale which majorly was to encourage them to face the threat. Later, France joined the force as it perceived the threat of the large German navy.

Military alliances were also seen as a result of this policy. Many nations, joining forces to counter perceived threats, came together with sole aim of countering the military threats of the other. This was an extension of the various treaties that were signed by the various national governments.

Various nations’ foreign policies shifted due to the Westpolitk policy. Nations which had policy’s of defense radically changed to policies of aggression. An example would be Russia, which had an aggressive approach in the Far East was geared towards countering the Japanese war with China. It was designed to further exploit and expand their empires. Nations sought this by being aggressive rather than being defensive. Noteworthy, is that, all the nations involved all employed aggressive and defensive approaches.

This policy led to nations coming out of isolations and saw the signing on new treaties.. Example was Britain. This was because the British interests were maritime and imperial with no need to join alliances. The ideology of the Germans made the British Empire to reconsider its policy and thus joined the already existed alliances with a common goal. Britain tried to enter into treaties with German as a diplomatic way to hold the threats being unleashed by the Germans. Some treaties were the Aglo-German treaty and the Aglo-German China treaty. Further, the British went ahead and signed many treaties with other nations namely, Japan, Russia and France.

Retrieved on 26th from

http://users.dickinson.edu/~rhyne/232/Six/Triple_Alliance_1882.html

Growing tensions due the Westpolitik policy led to shifting of foreign policies by different nations. The Germans being isolated. Shifting of alliances was witnessed and nations also changed their diplomacy. Defensive policy was adopted by nations that had prior been aggressive. Nations example Russia adopted diplomacy after defeat by the Japanese. They even entered into a treaty with the French with aim to defend each other in the case of a Germany attack. Tsar unlike the Kaiser, preferred a partial mobilization after the Australia declared war on Serbia. This was a different approach demonstrated by the Germans. Thus being offensive was being decided by the defensive capability of a nation. Nations sought to protect their interests.

The policy led to the centralization of the Habsburg monarchy (Austria-Hungary) the head normally was referred to as the Ruler of the Roman Empire. This was a defensive strategy geared towards power consolidation in the event of an attack. The centralization of this monarch was a direct result of the threat that was occasioned by the Germans. Austria and Hungary had co-operated in various fronts and this one was seen as strength in raising their defense against any external aggression.

This policy precipitated the World War 1.The objectives of the Westpolitik policy made nations to heighten their military and defensive capabilities in readiness for war. This was seen in the later during the occurrence of the World War 1. The German policy is seen by many historians as the precipitating factor that led to this First World War It is a war that involved the Great powers assembling in two different camps and lasted from 1914-1918. The Triple Entete and the Central power faced each other. Nearly 70 million military personnel with about 60 million Europeans were mobilized for this war. [4]. This changed the spending that various Empires had adopted. Human and economic resources were threatened by this war. Key trade routes and key source of raw materials were a source of greater conflict as each side sought to win the battle. The assassination of the heir to the Austria-Hungary Monarch in 1914 was seen as the trigger for this war. But analysis of preceding factors would tell otherwise. Foreign policies of various Empires including the Germans, Russians and the Hungarians, definitely had a hand in this war.

The aftermath of the war led to radical changes in the composition of governments. Constitutional changes were witnessed in major nations with case example being Britain. The expansion of various governments’ powers and responsibilities was witnessed. Nations which now enjoyed this advantage included the USA, Britain, France and the Dominions of the British Empire. Resultant new ministries and centers of powers were created to harness their grip. [5]

Stephen J. Lee; Europe, 1890-1945. (n.d) retrieved on 26th May 2010 from thttp://books.google.co.ke/books?id=Rzb2gmOWGeEC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=Germans+Weltpolitik+effects&source=bl&ots=iLqdIEMV3C&sig=uA7Sz2hcOSergsKZ4s3o8zGJcXo&hl=en&ei=fA39S8cEoJPiBuiFzKEL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Spencer Tucker; Encyclopedia of world war . (n.d.). Retrieved on 26th May 2010, from http://books.google.com/books?id=2YqjfHLyyj8C&pg=PA273&dq&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

The taxes introduced during this period have remained even up to today. This is evident in the taxation regimes of various nations. Distinct changes were observed in the governance structures. Executive powers of governments were expanded and governments became active in the lives of people. Democratic government structures were put in place with strengthening of political parties in Britain.

The establishment of the Treaty of Versailles effectively made the Germans and its Allies accountable for all the damages and loss encountered during the war and subsequently provided a means for compensation. This treaty brought the foreign power shifting and also brought control over the German’s Westpolitik policy. The defeat in the war loudly, made the Germans to retreat on their aggressive policy. This burden is explained by many as to having led to the end of the Westpolitik era for the Germans. It paved way for the rise of Adolf Hitler.   It is stated that the Germans will finish paying the debt in 2010 while the rest will be paid in 2020. [6]

Various views are held in debating whether the German’s really provoked the

War. This has led to doubts and suspicious treatment of the Germans even in the modern world. The German foreign policy has drastically shifted to one that is focused on the local scenario rather than the larger external nations. Its aggressive foreign policy approach has been shelved. German provided the Austria-Hungary with a blank cheque and encouraged the Serbia war. After Russian mobilization, German became the first to declare war. This subsequently led to war with France and the invasion of Belgium. This clearly shows that German was the ahead in provoking the retaliation that span into wide scale war.

Findley, Carter Vaughn and J.A. Rothney. Twentieth Century World: 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company: 2006. Page 77.

REFERENCES

Findley, Carter Vaughn and J.A. Rothney. Twentieth Century World: 6th ed. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company: 2006. Page 77.

Retrieved on 26th May 2010 from .http://www.historyhome.co.uk/europe/causeww1.htm

Retrieved on 26th from

http://users.dickinson.edu/~rhyne/232/Six/Triple_Alliance_1882.html

Stephen J. Lee; Europe, 1890-1945. (n.d) retrieved on 26th May 2010 from thttp://books.google.co.ke/books?id=Rzb2gmOWGeEC&pg=PA15&lpg=PA15&dq=Germans+Weltpolitik+effects&source=bl&ots=iLqdIEMV3C&sig=uA7Sz2hcOSergsKZ4s3o8zGJcXo&hl=en&ei=fA39S8cEoJPiBuiFzKEL&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CCAQ6AEwAg#v=onepage&q&f=false

Spencer Tucker; Encyclopedia of world war . (n.d.). Retrieved on 26th May 2010, from http://books.google.com/books?id=2YqjfHLyyj8C&pg=PA273&dq&hl=en#v=onepage&q&f=false

Mit Erlaubnis des Reichskanzlers gesammelt und herausgegeben von Johannes Penzler Fürst Bülows Reden nebst urkundlichen Beiträgen zu seiner Politik.. I. Band 1897–1903. Berlin: Georg Reimer, 1907. p. 6-8

 

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