Planning New Professional Education Programs: A Look at Key Considerations

2024-03-29T13:29:06+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation|

Developing new professional and continuing education (CE) programs requires careful planning and thoughtful consideration of various factors. This post explores some of the key elements you might encounter when reviewing a spreadsheet outlining potential CE program offerings, drawing from the sample data provided (though it’s important to note that specific details will vary depending on your institution and program). 1. Program Options and Considerations Program Length: The spreadsheet might show you a range of options for program lengths, from shorter online courses to full-fledged certificate programs. Course Formats: The data might include various delivery formats like fully online, blended (online with in-person elements), or on-campus intensives. Break-Even Analysis: This analysis would show the minimum number of students required to cover the program’s costs. Pay Scales: The data might include potential instructor pay scales depending on factors like experience and credentials. 2. Finding the Right Balance When creating new CE programs, it’s crucial to find the right balance between the program’s: Value Proposition: What unique benefit will this program offer potential students in terms of career advancement or skill development? Market Demand: Is there a sufficient number of interested professionals in your target audience who are willing to pay for this program? Delivery Costs: Can the program be delivered in a cost-effective way, considering factors like instructor fees, technology needs, and marketing efforts? 3. Spreadsheet as a Planning Tool A spreadsheet can be a powerful tool for planning and comparing different program options. Here’s how it might be used: Cost Modeling: The spreadsheet might be used to model program costs under different scenarios (e.g., different enrolment numbers or instructor costs). Identifying the Most Viable Option(s): By comparing break-even points and revenue projections across various program options, you can identify those with the highest likelihood of financial success. Optimizing Program Design: Data from the spreadsheet can inform decisions about program length, format, and [...]

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 [...]

Flipped Community: Decentralizing Online Learning

2024-03-29T13:32:35+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation|

Several years ago, I was working on a draft paper that discusses decentralizing online learning by flipping our concept of a learning community. The notes below summarize the draft paper, which, at the moment, remains still incomplete and unfinished. The concept of "flipping" is popular in education. It implies a change for the better, whether in course design ("flipped classroom") or, as proposed in this article, the underlying concept of "learning community." Flipping Community: A New Approach The authors argue that the traditional notion of "learning community" in higher education is problematic for several reasons: Lack of Theoretical Grounding: They critique the field for its fragmented approach and lack of a unifying theory of learning community and social presence in courses. Static View: Traditional communities can be seen as static, failing to recognize the shifting, multi-faceted identities of students. Isolation: These communities can promote an insular view, cut off from the wider world and students' other communities. Singularity: There's a risk of promoting a dominant, potentially superior view that suppresses diverse perspectives. Mono-Cultural: Even when trying to be inclusive, a learning community can inadvertently perpetuate a mono-cultural perspective. The 'Flipped Community' Model The authors propose a solution: the "flipped community" theory. Key characteristics include: Shifting, not Static: Embracing the transient, diverse nature of student identities. Metropolitan, not Isolated: Acknowledging students' existence within many communities, and valuing learning from those external contexts. Multiple, not Singular: Allowing for a range of viewpoints without pressure to conform to a single perspective. Multi-Cultural, not Mono-Cultural: Actively promoting diverse viewpoints and preventing consensus-driven monoculture. Big Picture Considerations The article then contrasts traditional and 'flipped' communities on aspects like: Focus: Inward vs. Outward/External Goals: Centralized around the instructor vs. Decentralized Student Connections: Primarily within the course vs. also including engagement with wider society Duration: Illusion of permanence vs. Acceptance of transience Instructor's Shifting Role Traditional View: Instructor as the central authority, [...]

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 [...]

Student Perspectives on Online Instructional Strategies

2024-03-29T13:33:59+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation|

Convenience is often a major draw for online learning, but are students truly satisfied with the way their online courses are designed? Understanding how students perceive different instructional strategies is key to improving the quality of online education. At the Lilly Teaching Conference in Anaheim, I presented research aimed at uncovering online students' perspectives and offering faculty and instructional designers actionable insights. Presentation Summary: What Do Students Really Think? The Central Question: My presentation explored whether online students are satisfied with online courses simply because of the flexibility, or whether they are genuinely satisfied with the instructional strategies used within them. Background and Data: The research involved undergraduate online courses with primarily traditional-aged students (19-21). While overall satisfaction scores were positive, the findings revealed a more nuanced picture. Student Feedback on Courses: Students indicated they were most satisfied with the overall learning experience, course expectations, and the likelihood of recommending the course to others. Interestingly, a greater number of students expressed a desire for more online offerings than those willing to participate in further online courses themselves. Insights on Specific Strategies: The presentation highlighted student preferences for various instructional strategies: Key Takeaways: The instructor's role remains crucial. Well-designed homework, formative assessments, and summative tests are valued. Improving Readings and Writing: Provide guidance with reading assignments and make writing tasks meaningful rather than simply busywork. Purposeful Projects: Individual projects with clear instructions were favored over collaboration for its own sake. Rethinking Discussion Boards and Groups: Avoid discussions easily replicated as individual assignments and ensure clear structure and expectations for groups. The Complexity of Satisfaction: The presentation acknowledged that convenience is a major factor. However, students also choose online courses with the expectation that they will learn effectively. Many factors beyond instructional strategies can impact student satisfaction. Understanding Student Types: It's important to recognize that online courses [...]

Building a Faculty Development Culture of Instructional Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges

2024-03-29T13:34:34+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation|

In today's rapidly evolving educational landscape, fostering a culture of continuous innovation is crucial. Encouraging faculty to explore and adopt new instructional approaches is key to enhancing student learning experiences. Yet, institutions often face challenges in successfully engaging faculty in this process. In 2017, while at William & Mary, I presented with Instructional Design Specialist Josh Chung at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). Our presentation, titled "Building a Faculty Development Culture for Instructional Innovation: Opportunities and Challenges" delved into the complexities surrounding innovation in higher education. We explored motivations, barriers, and strategies for institutions seeking to cultivate a dynamic environment where innovation thrives. Presentation Summary Defining Instructional Innovation: The presentation clarified that instructional innovation encompasses any new or creative approach that aims to enhance students' learning. It can range from small, incremental changes to disruptive shifts and may or may not involve technology. The Context of Innovation: We examined the delicate balance between an institution's teaching mission and an innovation-driven culture. The presentation looked at the issue from both macro (institutional) and micro (individual faculty/student) perspectives. Reasons for Resistance: Despite the potential benefits, faculty can be hesitant to embrace instructional innovation. We highlighted key reasons: limited formal training in teaching, a culture focused primarily on research, and a lack of awareness of available resources. The Importance of Marketing Faculty Development: The presentation stressed that merely providing faculty development options is insufficient. Institutions need to strategically market these opportunities using principles like the 'Enrollment Management Funnel,' tailored messaging, and even mirroring successful models like the pharmaceutical sales representative approach. A Multi-Level Marketing Model: We proposed a marketing model for faculty development that targets three key areas: Individual: Appealing to faculty's intrinsic desire to improve student learning and be part of a progressive environment. Instructional: Focusing on practical benefits, meeting students' needs, and pedagogical effectiveness. [...]

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.

How to Improve the Visual Appeal of an Online Program

2024-03-29T13:38:58+00:00Digital Learning, Education, Learning Innovation|

How to Improve the Visual Appeal of an Online Program Introductory note: In the early-to-mid 2010's, I had lead an online learning program to drastically improve its collective visual appeal. In the early-to-mid-2010s, online video and graphics was not as easy and abundant as it would be a decade later. So, those insights and lessons learned were turned into a key presentation that I gave at a conference. While I can't find the slide deck, I did find the presentation script (for some reason I have that!). So, below is a script from the presentation on how to improve the visual appeal of an online program - highlighting the need, the steps taken, and the lessons learned along the way. Presentation Script Let's face it. Online learning can really stink. It can be so boring, monotonous, and unstimulating that it produces a colorless odor that sucks life and motivation out of our students. Online learning's stench can fill the heavens above and permeate the plains below. As the leader of an online learning program, my goal is to do my best to develop an online program that does not stink. Instead of exposing them to a foul, repulsive odor, I would rather expose students to a pleasing aroma.  But the question is how? How can I help develop and create an online program that has a pleasing aroma and does not stink? That's a huge question.  It is also a broad one. To create an online program that leaves students with a please aroma--a successful learning experience, there are many factors to consider. We will need to save the answer to that huge, broad question for another article, another book, or another conference on another day. However, our purpose here is to examine one facet of this larger question. Here, we [...]

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