The informating effects of microcomputer technology on individuals in educational administration

Robert Allen Fowkes, Fordham University


The purpose of this study was to examine the potential effects of microcomputer technology on individuals in education, expressly within administrative and support frameworks. It focused on the consequences brought about by the introduction of such technology into the workplace and, specifically, on the informating effect on selected individuals. A secondary goal was the clarification of the term informating itself as the study progressed.^ To do this research the dissertation employed case study methodology. Four individuals from a metropolitan school district were chosen as units of analysis. The criteria for selection included the use of microcomputers in a significant manner as part of a non-instructional assignment and no previous formal technical training. The discourse, expanding a concept developed by Shoshana Zuboff (In the age of the smart machine) defined informating as a serendipitous phenomenon that occurs when information technology supersedes the traditional logic of automation, allowing individuals to undergo a transformation through the generation, manipulation, dispersal and other control of unprecedented amounts of information. This change provides the opportunity for such individuals to make critical and collaborative judgments through technological empowerment.^ The major findings of this research were: (1) Computers initially automate procedures. In all four cases the introduction of computer technology automated previous practices, at least at the outset. (2) Automating leads to informating. In each case, new methods superseded automation; methods that went beyond the original intent of the technology. (3) Informating leads to changing roles. The new techniques and control of information resulting from the use of microcomputers changed the nature of the role of the individuals in the organization. The degree of change in role function was proportional to the amount of informating observed.^ This study, while focused in the educational sphere, exemplifies the expression, "knowledge is power." The potential effect of the information age and its fallout on individuals and organizations extends beyond the world of pedagogy and takes on a global perspective. ^

Subject Area

Educational administration|Educational technology|Information science

Recommended Citation

Fowkes, Robert Allen, "The informating effects of microcomputer technology on individuals in educational administration" (1990). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9109256.