06
Jun

Higher Education’s Holistic Value: The Triple Helix

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Triple helix systems are exemplified by global education hubs. Education hubs are collaborations between local and international higher education providers working in partnership to make their region more attractive and economically powerful for investment, student recruitment, and training.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

06
May

Beyond the Brand: The Marketing Department of the Future

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

Higher education marketing departments should be able to bring data, insight, and an intimate understanding of the consumer to enable their institutions to identify future opportunities and forge new directions.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

20
Apr

Guest Post: A Season of Strikes

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

As non-tenure-track faculty fight for better pay, students and teachers rediscover the value of liberal education in that very struggle.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

04
Apr

Where do digital learning innovation evangelists gather?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

There is a new sort of gig in higher ed: the digital learning innovation evangelist.

Who are these people? What do they do? Are their jobs really different from leadership roles that have come before? What is their professional home? What is their professional association? And where do they gather?

These are all good questions.

One place where I’ll be trying to get some answers is this summer’s SOLA+R: Summit for Online Leadership and Administration + Roundtable.

This University Professional and Continuing Education Association event brings together folks who are thinking about digital and online learning through an institutional lens.

I’ve gotten involved in UPCEA through my work as an (unpaid) fellow for the association’s National Council for Online Education.

Where does this convening fit in with other meetings for digital/online learning evangelists? I’d classify SOLA+R as a convening that is similar to HAIL Storm (Harvesting Academic Innovation for Learners), in that the event brings together a relatively small number of digital learning innovators to share knowledge and resources and ideas.

Unlike HAIL, which is purely a grassroots effort, SOLA+R is under a larger professional organization umbrella — UPCEA.

The reason that I’m excited about participating in SOLA+R is that I’m looking for a community of practice that recognizes online learning as a powerful lever for organizational change.

Over the past few years many colleges and universities have created these sorts of roles. They go by different names. Sometimes the position is a dean, provost or a director for digital learning innovation.

Other times the role of institutional digital learning evangelist falls to leaders in online and continuing education programs. Sometimes, the push for digital learning innovation comes from units such as academic computing or centers for teaching and learning (CTLs).

While those serving in digital learning innovation roles have different titles and different job responsibilities, they do have some things in common. Mostly, this is a community that is impatient with incremental improvements in postsecondary learning, issues of access, or business models.

This is a community that looks at digital and online learning as a means, rather than as ends. The ultimate goal is not to create more online programs or digitally enhanced blended courses — although those are good — but rather to drive big changes in the way universities fulfill their mission within a rapidly changing knowledge economy.

These big changes may be about bringing quality higher education to scale, shifting the economics of both learning and credentialing from scarcity to abundance.

Or these big changes may mean leveraging the methods of online learning, such backwards course design and partnerships with learning designers, to dramatically improve learning at traditional residential institutions.

Others who work as digital learning evangelists look at digital and online education as an opportunity to improve the resilience and long-term economic viability of the institutions in which they work.

What all the folks working in the digital learning innovation evangelist role need are communities of practice, colleagues and support/resources to do their jobs (our jobs) more effectively.

The June SOLA+R convening will be an important nexus for discussions at the intersection of digital/online learning and organizational change. UPCEA’s National Council for Online Education is dedicated to convening and supporting this emerging community of practice.

One of the advantages that I’ve found in my work with UPCEA is the associations focus on federal and state policy. It is difficult for those of us outside of the Beltway to understand how policy is made that impacts our world of digital and online learning — much less how to have any impact on the process. I expect that the role of government and online learning will be a big focus at the SOLA+R D.C. gathering.

From what I understand, there is still some space available at the June 18-20 SOLA+R convening in Washington. (Although space will not remain open for long, as this is an intimate and intense gathering).

It will be interesting to see if other professional organizations in our space carve out smaller and more focused convenings/organizations to bring together digital learning innovation evangelists.

Can anyone share what is going on with OLC, Educause, WCET or others in this space?

If you, like me, are searching for your people at the intersection of digital/online learning and organizational change then I hope to see you at SOLA+R this summer in D.C.

Smart Title: 
Where Do Digital Learning Innovation Evangelists Gather?
Order: 
1 000
Email Teaser: 
Where Do Digital Learning Innovation Evangelists Gather?
Blog: 
Technology and Learning

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

24
Feb

Moneyball for Tenure? Not Until Academia Is a Team Sport

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

What does “winning” mean for a higher education institution?

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

29
May

The Theranos Story and Education Technology

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

A great new book has me thinking about ed tech.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

28
Apr

Are the Professions (Disciplines?) of Educational Developer and Learning Designer Merging?

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

I’d like to share what I think I know about the professions of education developer, instructional designer, and learning designer. Then I’d like to ask your help in figuring out where my understanding is incomplete, or just downright wrong.

My goal is not to provide a complete description of the work of educational developers, instructional designers, or learning designers. Rather, I’m trying to make sense of where these professional (disciplines) differ, and where they overlap. I’m also trying to figure out if it makes sense to hypothesize that these higher education roles are starting to merge — and in particular starting to merge in the work of learning designers.

Understanding the profession (or is it discipline?) of an educational developer is where I need the most help.  While I work in a Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL), I have not yet been able to attend a Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education (POD) conference. POD is the professional association for educational developers.

The academic home for educational developers is usually (but not always) within a CTL. Educational developers collaborate with individual instructors, academic departments, and larger campus units on a range of teaching and learning activities. This work can involve working with individual faculty members in consultations around teaching or educational scholarship (consultations and consulting), or it may take the form of designing and leading workshops or other programming.

The range of activities that educational developers include in their portfolios is too large to fully enumerate. They work at every level of the institution (and cross-institutionally), on tasks ranging from course development and improvement (through design, assessment and research) to organizational development. Educational developers may work with future instructors (grad students and postdocs). They approach the work with a holistic orientation towards human development and organizational effectiveness.

Educational developers often, but now always, come to the work with either a terminal degree in the field, or from a traditional discipline based Ph.D. program. Most educational developers that I know both teach at the university level, and conduct original scholarly research on teaching and learning. Given their administrative, teaching and research roles, educational developers occupy a liminal position between faculty and staff.

This brief description of the work of an educational developer is no doubt incomplete. I would be interested in a similarly concise but more accurate description of the profession (discipline?) of educational developers.

My main question is where and how educational developers overlap and differ from instructional designers, and if the professions (disciplines?) are coming together in the profession (discipline?) of learning designers?

The work of instructional designers shares many aspects of that of educational developers, but with many key differences. Instructional designers often work in CTL’s, but they are still more likely to be found outside of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

While instructional designers may attend POD, POD is not their primary professional association. (In fact, it is not clear to me that instructional designers have a professional association — at least one that accredits and recognizes graduate training programs and credentials).

When I think of of the work of instructional designers, I mostly think about the integration of learning theory and course/program design. Instructional designers are fluent in leveraging educational technologies to align with the research on learning, and in support of the educational goals of the instructors in which they collaborate.

Instructional designers translate well-established methods and frameworks for learning, such as backwards course design and the use of learning objectives, into course design. This collaborative course design work often, but not always, is implemented in blended or online courses — and therefore is mediated by technology.

Where educational developers work almost exclusively for educational institutions (and within higher education), instructional designers can be found wherever teaching or training may occur. Until recently, it may be the case that most instructional designers worked outside of academe (is this true?), designing face-to-face and online training materials and experiences in corporate, government, and other settings.

The growth of online learning in the past 20 years has been accompanied by a commensurate growth in the number of instructional designers on our campuses. Nowadays, instructional designers are part of the normal fabric of university life. They work on residential, blended, low-residency and full online degree and non-degree programs. They can speak as authoritatively about both Bloom’s taxonomy and the ADDIE framework, as well as about the latest developments in adaptive learning platforms, classroom response system, lecture capture technologies, and learning management systems (LMS).

A trend that I’ve observed across higher education, and one that is certainly present at my institution, is for the title of instructional designer to evolve into that of a learning designer.

A learning designer seems to do everything that an instructional designer does, save for somewhat less emphasis on managing and supporting educational technology platforms. The emphasis is squarely on learning. 

Technologies such as the LMS, simulations and adaptive learning platforms remain important tools — but their use is analogous to how a social scientist might use a statistical package for their research. They are only tools. (Professionals with titles such as “educational technologist” are now taking over the selection, management, support and training for learning technology platforms — although learning designers are certainly still closely involved in this work).

Where I’ve observed learning designers more closely resemble educational developers is with the professions (disciplines?) greater focus on departmental / school / and organizational development.  Learning designers are increasingly working across the institution (and cross-institutionally) to advance student learning.

Learning designers are also engaged in their own teaching (as opposed to only collaborating with teaching instructors), and in creating original research. Like educational developers, they not only read the SoTL literature, they are contributing to it.

My sense is that learning designers remain more likely to work in digital environments — on blended and low-residency and online courses and programs — than are educational developers. That technology remains more at the heart of the culture of the learning design profession than it is of educational developers. But I’m not totally sure this is right.

Throughout this post I’ve written profession, followed by discipline with a question mark. The reason I’m doing this is that I’m unclear if educational developers are part of an educational development academic discipline. And I’m not sure if the field of learning design is coalescing into an academic discipline. One that offers a consistent method of advanced training and accreditation, grounded in well understood and generally recognized theoretical frameworks, and which is unified by a commonly accepted set of methodological tools and frameworks.

I know that educational developers get Ph.D.s in their fields, I’m not sure if learning designers do?

Might we see a merging of the work, profession and discipline of educational developers and learning designers?

Are we seeing the profession of instructional design forking into educational technologist on side, and the academic discipline of learning design on the other? And if so, how much does this learning design discipline overlap with that of the educational developers?

Is there a sociology of the postsecondary learning professions?

Do you consider yourself an educational developer, and instructional designers, or a learning designer? (Or all 3?).

What was your path to your academic discipline/profession?

How has your role changed at your institution during the past few years?

Smart Title: 
Are the Professions (Disciplines?) of Educational Developer and Learning Designer Merging?
Order: 
1 000
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Blog: 
Technology and Learning

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

12
Apr

OPM Companies Should Think Like an Industry

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

This week I’m in Chicago, speaking at the Pearson Higher Education Executive Leadership Forum.

Many of you know — and some of you don’t — that Pearson is a major player in the OPM (online program management) industry. Currently, Pearson has about 45 campus partners and 250 online programs. Many of the schools that partner with Pearson to run online programs, such as ASU, Maryville and George Washington, are here at this meeting.

Unlike most representatives of universities at this meeting, my school is not a Pearson partner. While we have some small, high-quality, low-residency master’s programs in health care delivery science and public health, we have not gone the OPM route in building these programs.

While I am an online learning evangelist, I am also an OPM industry critic.

To Pearson’s credit, it is my critique of the OPM industry that largely motivated the company to have me come speak at their online learning event.

It is not that I’m against the idea of a partnership model. My openness to the idea of school/company partnerships in developing and running online programs already sets me apart from many of my colleagues in the online learning space.

It is more that I’m concerned about the direction of the OPM industry as a whole.

Today, the online programs management industry is fragmented and chaotic. There are few agreed-upon standards of transparency in contracts. We have no independent sources that I know of, aggregating data on both student and institutional outcomes from across all school/company online partnerships.

It is not clear, at least to me, how the different OPM providers in the sector are differentiated from another.

Every for-profit online program management company will tell you that they put the needs of the institution and the learner first. That they are willing to be flexible and nimble. That they know how to build quality programs and market to prospective students better than their competitors. And that their partner schools are not only happy with the partnership, but happier than the average school/OPM provider partnership.

This can’t all be true. Every OPM can’t be above average.

Like universities, the various OPM providers (and there are something like 25) must have strengths and weaknesses.

So I’m here in Chicago to advocate that the OPM players, including Pearson, begin to think about their industry as a whole — rather than only on their own business.

Leadership in the for-profit online learning space means not only building out a range of services that are both attractive to partner universities and serve the needs of students (and faculty), but also advance the OPM sector as a whole.

I think the various companies in the OPM space need to recognize that there is a growing level of distrust among many in higher education about the OPM model. Many people on campuses that I speak with are concerned about the revenue sharing, long-term contracts, and outsourcing of core capabilities (such as learning design) that characterize many school/OPM contracts.

The various companies in the OPM industry also need to recognize that the people (like me) who evangelize the development of new online programs talk to our counterparts at other schools. A bad experience with a single OPM provider can sour us on the model for the entire industry. The presence of bad actors in the OPM space, or at least bad fits between schools and companies, is not a competitive advantage for the other OPM providers.

In short, I think that individual OPM companies need to make the transition to thinking in terms of an industry. They need to focus on growing the potential partnership pie as much as competing with other companies. They need to move toward a middle ground in being willing to share data and methods that today they hold as proprietary.

This is the message that I’m delivering at the Pearson event, and again, to Pearson’s credit, they still invited me to their meeting. I’m hoping to participate in other OPM events and to spend time with other OPM providers.

The work that I’m hoping to do with the OPM industry is motivated by my desire to see more high quality low-residency and online programs. As I mentioned, I’m not against the model of school/company partnerships. In many cases, it makes good sense for a school to work with a for-profit partner. Many institutions simply don’t have the resources, expertise or experience to launch a new online program. Some of the core competencies that the OPM providers have, such in figuring out where unmet student demand exists and in marketing, are not ones that many schools have. (At least for programs aimed at working adults).

We are at the point where the OPM industry needs to evolve. The industry as a whole needs to more closely mirror the values and norms of openness and transparency that characterize the culture of higher education.

As an industry, the OPM companies need to do what they can (through sharing of institutional and learner outcomes) to help schools make more informed choices about partnering (or not) with a company.

I’ll be looking to see which OPM player steps up as a leader in the OPM industry.

Smart Title: 
OPM Companies Should Think Like an Industry
Order: 
1 000
Disable left side advertisement?: 
Email Teaser: 
OPM Companies Should Think Like an Industry
Blog: 
Technology and Learning

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U

08
Feb

From 985 to World Class 2.0: China’s Strategic Move

Written by Blog Editor. Posted in Academic News

The intensifying global university and subject rankings have had a far-reaching influence on the development of China’s higher education policy.

Inside Higher Ed | Blog U