Building a Strong Foundation: A University-Wide Learning Technologies Governance Framework

2024-03-29T13:41:05+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Leadership, Management, Strategy|

A well-defined governance structure is essential for the successful implementation and oversight of any university's online learning initiatives. This blog post explores the key components of a university-wide learning technologies governance framework, drawing on the example provided (though it's important to note that specific titles and reporting structures may vary depending on your institution). 1. The Executive Council: Setting the Strategic Direction The Executive Learning Technologies Council provides high-level oversight and strategic direction for the university's learning technologies. This council is likely comprised of senior leaders from various departments across the institution, with a vested interest in online learning. Their focus would be on ensuring that the university's learning technologies strategy aligns with the institution's overall academic goals. 2. The Strategic Team: Guiding Implementation The Strategic Learning Technologies Team translates the broad strategic vision of the Executive Council into actionable plans. This team might consist of learning technology experts, instructional designers, curriculum specialists, and representatives from colleges and departments across the university. Their role would be to develop policies, procedures, and best practices for the use of learning technologies in online courses and programs. 3. College and Departmental Support The framework acknowledges the importance of Classroom Technology Committees within colleges and departments. These committees would likely be responsible for selecting, implementing, and supporting learning technologies specific to the needs of their faculty and students within a particular discipline. The blog post doesn't mention a Media Technology Team, but it could be part of the Strategic Learning Technologies Team, providing expertise in multimedia creation and production for online courses. 4. Collaboration and Communication The overall structure emphasizes collaboration and communication between various stakeholders: The Executive Council provides guidance to the Strategic Team. The Strategic Team supports the work of College and Departmental Technology Committees. Operational staff likely works collaboratively with all levels of the governance structure to ensure the smooth day-to-day operation of learning [...]

The Data-Driven Blueprint for Successful Online Programs

2024-03-29T13:41:35+00:00Business & Leadership, Digital Learning, Education, Innovation, Leadership, Learning Innovation, Management, Marketing, Strategy|

Launching and sustaining a successful online program takes more than just a great idea. It requires careful planning, a solid understanding of the numbers, and a clear vision for the student experience. Three essential tools – the pro forma, enrollment cascades, and course sequence cascades – offer institutions a multi-faceted lens through which to plan, analyze, and make data-powered decisions when establishing and scaling online programs. 1. The Pro Forma: Your Financial Roadmap Think of a pro forma as the financial blueprint for your online program. It's a model that projects your expected multi-year revenue, expenses, and profitability. A well-crafted pro forma helps answer these critical questions: Feasibility: Can this program sustain itself financially? When will it break even? Resource Allocation: Where should I invest most heavily? Where can I optimize resources? Decision-Making: Should we go ahead? Having hard financial data helps avoid costly mistakes Scenario Planning: What happens if enrollment is lower than expected? What if we raise the tuition? Funding: A robust pro forma can attract internal or external funding. 2. Enrollment Cascades: Tracking Your Students' Journey An enrollment cascade charts the progress of student cohorts throughout the program. It reveals where students might be struggling, dropping out, or thriving. Here's what an enrollment cascade tells you: Bottlenecks: Are there high drop-off points? This is a red flag for problems with course design, advising, or support. Targeted Interventions: Pinpointing student attrition allows for customized support to get them back on track. Data, not Guesswork: Enrollments cascades drive investment in the resources that make the biggest impact . Predicting the Future: Enrollment trends help you anticipate how many students you'll need to support each year – forecasting faculty, facilities, and budget needs. 3. Course Sequence Cascades: Ensuring a Smooth Progression A course sequence cascade visualizes how students flow through the series of required courses in your program. It reveals [...]

Inside the World of a Chief Online Learning Officer: 3 Days of Innovation, Collaboration, and Strategic Leadership

2024-03-29T13:40:24+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Leadership, Learning Innovation, Management|

Over the past 30+ years, online learning leadership has been growing and evolving. But what does it look like to serve a large, entrepreneurial institution as the Chief Online Learning Officer (COLO)? What does life actually look like on the ground for this role? To offer a transparent, behind-the-scenes glimpse, this post draws from three days in the life of a university's COLO. While some elements may be specific to this institution, the overarching themes reflect the fast-paced, entrepreneurial, and strategic nature of effectively leading online learning initiatives. Day 1: Balancing Pricing Strategy, Professional Development, and Cross-University Collaboration The first day highlights a blend of high-level strategic thinking and hands-on problem-solving. These were/are all things worked on during one actual day of work. Pricing Strategy Meeting: Starting with a complex conversation about online program pricing – a crucial decision influencing both revenue and accessibility. The COLO brings comparative data and deft negotiation skills to nudge stakeholders toward a more sustainable price point. External Partnership Exploration: Discussions with business school leadership lay the groundwork for lucrative partnerships to expand non-degree professional development programs. Alumni Engagement: Strategic collaboration with alumni affairs on a new professional development program aimed at alumni, demonstrating the power of cross-university relationships to unlock revenue and audience reach. Bachelor's Degree Design Innovation: This strategic meeting focuses on transforming online bachelor's degree design to better meet student needs (e.g., shorter courses, streamlined transfer processes). Online Graduate Business Program Development: Review of online graduate program design, showcasing the COLO's role in driving ongoing improvement. Enrollment Management & Student Success Partnership with Main Campus Unit Meeting: The COLO plays a key role in facilitating communication and collaboration with other university divisions (like Executive Education ) for shared initiatives and resource optimization. Transfer Student Innovation: A meeting on boosting transfer student enrollment underscores the COLO's focus on optimizing pipelines into [...]

Building a Culture of Instructional Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges (Presentation)

2024-03-29T13:40:13+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Leadership, Learning Innovation, Management, Strategy|

In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, fostering a culture of continuous innovation – embracing new ways to enhance the learning experience – is a top priority for many institutions. However, motivating faculty to explore and implement new teaching approaches can be a significant challenge. In 2017, while at William & Mary, I presented at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). My presentation titled "Building a Culture of Instructional Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges" aimed to ignite a conversation on how institutions can best support and inspire faculty to embrace innovation in their teaching. Presentation Summary The Context of Innovation: My presentation explored the interplay between an institution's mission focused on high-quality teaching and a broader culture embracing innovation. It highlighted the need for alignment between these two objectives. Defining Instructional Innovation: To frame the discussion, I clarified that instructional innovation encompasses any new or creative approach that aims to enhance students' learning. Such innovation can be small-scale, large-scale, and may or may not involve technology. Understanding Faculty Needs: The presentation delved into the fundamental needs of faculty: ongoing development, recognition, rewards, autonomy, and the desire to teach effectively. Motivating Faculty: I highlighted both common incentives (promotion opportunities, compensation, release time) as well as often overlooked intrinsic motivators, such as the desire to improve student learning and a sense of belonging to an innovative institution. Barriers to Innovation: A significant portion of the presentation focused on real-world obstacles that commonly hinder faculty's adoption of new teaching methods: Negative Perceptions: Skepticism towards the effectiveness of new approaches and the training needed to implement them. Lack of Motivation: Even when extensive resources are available, faculty (especially junior faculty focused on tenure) may not prioritize innovation. Time Constraints: Limited time to explore and implement new strategies. Workload Concerns: The additional work required may be a deterrent, especially when development time is [...]

Steps to Improving Online Learning Video Production

2024-03-29T13:39:50+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation, Management|

High-quality video is an essential component of engaging online courses. In 2017, while at William & Mary, I teamed up with Instructional Design Specialist Josh Chung to present at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). Our presentation, "Steps to Improving Online Learning Video Production", offered practical strategies and insights for educational institutions seeking to enhance the quality and impact of their online learning videos. Presentation Summary: A Roadmap to Better Online Videos The Challenge Online learning videos can range from basic and uninspiring to highly polished and effective. Understanding models and processes for continuous improvement is essential. Profiles: Basic, Better, Best We outlined three broad categories of video quality (Basic, Better, and Best). Each level reflects increasing commitment to production elements and creativity. We stressed that the goal should be consistent improvement across these levels. The Production Process The presentation highlighted three key phases of video production: Pre-Production: The essential planning stage involving vision, administrative support, and resource allocation. Production: The active filming process, emphasizing attention to detail, technical quality, and faculty guidance. Post-Production: Editing, polishing, and finalizing videos, with an eye toward clarity and engagement. Six Production Models We presented six common models for online video creation, ranging from simple to complex: Screen Capture, PowerPoint, Live Class Capture, Whiteboard/Lightboard, and Studio/Location shoots. Investing for Improvement Across all models, moving from "Basic" to "Better" levels requires investment in time, expertise, technical resources, and administrative support. Reaching the "Best" level often involves significant commitment to high-quality production. Key Takeaways The presentation emphasized these core ideas for improving online learning video quality: Creativity is Key: Regardless of your budget, creativity and thoughtful execution can elevate video quality significantly. Process Matters: A clear framework for pre-production, production, and post-production ensures smoother processes and better results. Invest Wisely: Understand the resource demands of each production model to choose the most sustainable approach [...]

Managing Second-Level Effects of Innovative Projects

2024-03-29T13:36:06+00:00Business & Leadership, Digital Learning, Education, Leadership, Learning Innovation, Management|

Innovative projects offer exciting possibilities, but their implementation often has complex ripple effects beyond what is initially expected. In 2017, while at William & Mary, I presented at the WCET conference in Denver on the topic of "Second-Level Effects." This presentation explored the challenges of managing these unexpected consequences of innovation and offered potential strategies for success. Presentation Summary: Managing "Second-Level Effects" The Nature of the Challenge: Often, we carefully plan for the initial, anticipated outcomes of a project ("First-Level Effects"). We may address challenges like increased workload or resistance from stakeholders. However, "Second-Level Effects" are much harder to predict. These are the indirect and often surprising changes that emerge as a project is implemented. Because they are unique, unpredictable, and constantly evolving, Second-Level Effects are considered "wicked problems." Causes of Second-Level Effects: These effects stem from significant shifts caused by the project, including: Altered Attention: The way people allocate their time and focus changes. New Social Dynamics: Interactions and relationships within organizational structures shift. Changed Interdependencies: Processes and workflows are modified, impacting how people collaborate and rely on each other. Suggested Strategies The presentation outlined key strategies to mitigate and manage the challenges presented by Second-Level Effects: Continuous Scanning = Skate to where the puck will be Foster Agility = “High performance organizations” Involve stakeholders Communicate core identity Focus on Action Feed forward Build Resilience Key Takeaway This presentation highlighted the importance of going beyond initial implementation plans. By understanding the deeper, long-term consequences of innovation and adopting proactive strategies, organizations can increase their chances of successfully navigating the complex journey of change.

3 Insights on Why Pursing Innovative Paths Can Fail

2021-01-02T19:51:26+00:00Business & Leadership, Innovation, Leadership, Management|

Recently, I have been re-reading a classic in business management - The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen. Over 20 years later, this book’s principles continue to be timely words of insight and wisdom. Rather than let some of these thoughts go, I thought it might be helpful to consolidate a few of my reflections here and share 3 insights on why pursing innovative paths can fail. 1. Innovative paths are often hindered not by failed leadership and management but hindered by highly effective leadership and management. Good management, seeking to serve its existing customers and brand values, is often the reason that top firms fail to exhibit leadership with disruptive innovations. It is a false perception to think that “bad” leadership is the reason for failure to innovate. Instead, the problem is often “good” leadership. 2. Innovative paths are often most successful within established firms when set up as autonomous arms of the organization. The history of business innovation in a wide variety of industries has proven this to be true - data storage, computers, steel, farm engineering, retail, higher education, etc. When deciding to pursue a disruptive technology, most organizations will be most successful setting up an autonomous organization changed with building and pursuing the new business. With few exceptions, the only instances in which mainstream firms have successfully established a timely position in a disruptive technology were those in which the firm’s managers set up an autonomous organization charged with building a new and independent business around the disruptive technology. 3. Innovative paths fail when leaders fail to appropriately align their organizations resources to invest in the new autonomous organization. Established organizations are established for a reason, and their good leaders know how to align their resources toward those established aims. However, those very skills and abilities often work [...]

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