Nowadays, technology affects practically all activities in our life. The new digital technologies have permeated economy markets, politics, our workplaces, the ways we communicate with each other, our home activities, as well as operation of all levels of education from kindergarten to doctoral studies. The new technologies challenge higher education institutions worldwide to redefine their student constituencies, their partners and competitors and to redesign their research infrastructures and teaching practices.
The digital technologies have also generated many conflicting claims and predictions as to the present, and mainly future, effects that the Internet and World Wide Web might have on higher education environments. Some futurists tell us that the information and communication technologies produced an era of a 'digital tsunami' and are driving the restructuring of academe by forcing educators to realign and redesign their academic work dramatically, while many others contend that the use of technology has remained, and will remain, on the margins of the academic activities and is unlikely to change in any fundamental way the dominant campus cultures. On one hand, the emergence of the new technologies has broadened access to many new student clienteles and in such a way contributed greatly to social equity in higher education; and on the other hand, the continuous development of advanced and complex technological infrastructures widens the digital divide between developed and developing countries, and between rich and poor. Most academics have adopted eagerly the many technological capabilities provided by the Internet in their research activities, and, at the same time, many professors still feel reluctant to incorporate the technologies into their teaching. The digital technologies gave rise to many new providers of higher education and increased the competition in the academic global market, while we witness a growing trend of collaborations and convergence of academic practices enhanced by the new media. The World Wide Web encouraged 'digital piracy' and led to the enactment of stringent copyright and other intellectual property laws, while concurrently enhancing an open source movement that advocates the opening up of academic work and research to the public.
These multiple contrasting trends, and the visible gap between some sweeping expectations echoed in the 1990s as to the immense impacts of digital technologies on higher education environments and the actual reality, are discussed in this book. The various chapters provide a critical and reflective view of the implementation of digital technologies in higher education from various perspectives, based on hundreds of comprehensive reviews, books, monographs, articles and research reports.