A crash course in ed tech and online learning for higher ed leaders

One of the things I’ve come to appreciate is how challenging it can be for an institution to grapple with online learning and ed tech.  Leadership is so important and yet the top layer of an institution is generally not selected for their in depth knowledge of something many of us have dedicated our careers to. Even Directors of Teaching and Learning centres may specialize in other things, and have only an operational level understanding of ed tech and how it supports teaching and learning.

The online learning in Canadian universities and colleges 2018 preliminary data is pointing – with a few exceptions –  to the growth of online and blended in Canadian post secondary.  I think it’s fair to say that there’s an ongoing need for institutions to have a really good understanding of online learning and a strategy or plan to grow or support it.  However, often the people who have to make the strategic and resource decisions may only have a surface understanding of online learning and ed tech, and  in smaller institutions  they may be relying on a few known champions or people who have job titles with technology in it for information and guidance or to lead an online learning strategy process.

I’m starting to think there’s a need for a (unconventional) crash course for Deans, VPs and Presidents on leadership in online learning and ed tech.  This is tongue in cheek (sort of)  but is probably something that could insert itself into higher ed executive leadership training.

Topics or courses I would include are:

  1. The Basics – Online learning is many things
  2. The Vision – Being clear on why you do/want to do online learning and understanding the drivers for it
  3. The Data/evidence – Getting real about who your students are, and what they need
  4. The Consultation – Strategies for examining the internal and external environment and why you’ll probably need some liberating structures
  5. Academic innovation – What are open education, open technology, and open education practices and why should we care about open?
  6. The Systems – How to not to fall into the trap of conventional thinking or taking the path of least resistance
  7. Gurus, Evangelists and Privilege – Stop talking about millennials and digital natives:  Being critical about Edubuzz
  8. The Networks – You probably can’t do it alone:  Examining the sector and building networks and partnerships
  9. Innovation – It doesn’t have to be expensive:  Pilots, boundary objects, and creating fail safe spaces
  10. Sustainability – Getting clear on what you invest in, where you want to build capacity, and creative ways for doing that
  11. Strategy –It’s not all about the ed tech:  Building the culture you need to support the vision
  12. Evaluation – Keeping a check and balance on where you are putting your resources

What’s missing?


  • John Robertson

    Hopefully in the spirit of the post (and because I qualify all the things):
    2) The gold rush is over. Your vision can’t be “make lots of money by showing up”.
    6) With the small aside that understanding what works and why that system works is important if you want to do something different.
    9) but it’s not free, whether ‘real’ cost or opportunity cost (this is somewhat in 10).

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