Who’s in Charge?

Over the past few weeks I’ve been speaking with our BCcampus strategic advisory council members, along with a number of educational technology advocates and practitioners within the higher education system. The questions I’ve been asking have been about the strategic educational technology challenges each is facing. Responses have begun to cluster in three areas:

  • Leadership and development – Training and developing staff at all levels in institutions to respond to new developments and new opportunities
  • Online learning development and delivery strategy- LMS acquisition, the cost of online learning tools and services, migration paths to newer or better models and systems, course and content management over the long term
  • Cloud-based services – Security and privacy concerns, migration issues, mobile computing, management

What began about 10 years ago as a tentative foray into online learning in many institutions has expanded to become a core part of the enterprise on most campuses. It’s increasingly becoming a management challenge to align and support an e-learning strategy and operational plan that insures the institution’s mission is well served and that students have successful educational experiences whether physically on campus, online or both.

One challenge that has yet to be voiced explicitly in my rounds of campuses is an issue that arose in the Managing Online Education survey that was conducted by the Campus Computing Project and reported at the WCET Conference in November 2010. What the study revealed is that online learning is happening in diverse ways all over campuses in every department, and the toughest question to answer on any single campus was, “Who’s in charge.”

Chief academic officers, provosts, CIOs, deans and educational technology directors were all cited as key e-learning champions or stakeholders on the campuses surveyed by the Campus Computing Project.  I expect the conversation on BC campuses will also begin to reflect the diversity of stakeholders who will require a voice in e-learning strategy as our institutions gear up for their next big steps in online education.

However the decision-making processes happened on the US campuses surveyed, it is interesting to note that the findings reported in the Managing Online Education survey are largely congruent with the three clustered responses from members of the BCcampus strategic advisory council, and from anecdotal reports from educational technology leaders on our own campuses.

As Canadian members of WCET, BCcampus, eCampusAlberta and Ontario’s have worked with our colleagues at WCET to insure that we (Canadian service agencies and institutions) will be included in the Managing Online Learning survey in 2011, and that the data collected from Canadian campuses will add value to the findings of the 2011 report.