International Review of Research in Open and Distributed LearningThis article examines the integration of the new information technologies (IT) into Israeli higher education, and most particularly its research universities through a top-down strategy, initiated by the Israeli Council for Higher Education since the end of 1999. This top-down strategy has created a systemic change that will affect the many layers of university activities rather than in a random, sporadic manner undertaken by enthusiastic individuals. This article discusses the built-in contradictions and dilemmas in the process of adapting distance teaching methods by conventional universities in Israel (as well as in other higher education systems). It examines the merits of a top-down strategy aimed to implement the IT through a macro-level, systemic approach, and analyses the differential uses of the IT in Israeli higher education institutions, relating to variables of: access-outreach; teaching-learning processes; study materials production; data and information retrieval; administrative functions; the creation of "researcher" communities; inter-institutional collaboration; and associated costs. The article concludes with some suggestions for effective implementation of the IT in different types of higher education institutions in a comprehensive and systematic manner, that will take into account their academic ethos and organizational infrastructure, and cater to the unique needs and characteristics of their relevant constituencies. More...