Innovation, Collaboration, and Leadership: Key Qualities for Advancing Initiatives and Your Career in Online Education

Concurrent Session 5
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

With new technologies available every day, opportunities to pursue new initiatives in online education are limitless. However, knowing who to collaborate with and how to frame your ideas are paramount to gaining leadership’s support. Join us in a lively discussion on key strategies for developing collaboration, networking, and innovation skills.


Megan Kohler is a Learning Designer with the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State. She has presented at international conferences, such as Open Ed 2010 in Barcelona, Spain, the International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu, Hawaii, and the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida. Megan relies on her training and experience as a professional actor to create a fun and engaging experience within her presentations and design work. Among her professional accomplishments, she is recognized for her work as the lead instructional designer and project manager on Penn State’s highly-rated Epidemics MOOC. She conceptualized the MOOCs by Design Webinar series and served as the pedagogical lead for the Penn State Digital Badges Initiative. She continues to explore interesting opportunities focused on improving the online learning experience for higher education. She frequently shares her insights on teaching, learning, and technology on her blog titled, RedesignEd.
Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He also leads initiatives with GGU's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence relating to academic technology, faculty development and pedagogical challenges. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and is an active member of the OLC community. Doug also serves on the Substantive Change peer review committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer. GGU is a private, non-profit university located in San Francisco, California that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business and management, taxation, and law. Many programs are offered both in-person and entirely online.

Additional Authors

Dr. Andrew Shean, Chief Academic Learning Officer, Bridgepoint Education. Dr. Shean, previously the Vice Provost of Provost of Curriculum and Innovation at Ashford University, now leads the centralization of resources across all Bridgepoint universities to drive greater productivity related to learning resources in order to better position and deliver even HIGHER quality education through consistency of best practices in instructional design, innovative use of educational technology, and successful student outcomes.

Extended Abstract

In today’s society, we have access to countless new technologies which provide ample opportunities for educators to pursue new innovations in online education. But innovation itself can often be a challenging endeavor. You may come up with a great idea which you think is something that will bring about significant change, only to find out your exact idea has already been implemented by someone else. Or perhaps you struggle with your own creativity by thinking you do not have any new idea or innovative ideas, only to learn later you were one of the first individuals to implement a new practice. How can you know if your idea is truly innovative or not? What is the best way to find out if someone has already explored your idea?

Pursuing innovation is a complex process, it starts with a great idea, but rarely can one individual achieve success on their own. Selecting the right collaborators can often be just as important as the idea or vision itself. But how do you know who the right collaborators are in a society that is highly competitive? Where do you find the collaborators who will truly support your efforts? How do you pitch your ideas in order to motivate your peers to help you? And most importantly, how do you create opportunities for your entire team to increase their advancement potential through the project?

Without support from the leadership at your institution, major innovations cannot occur. Knowing what information to present about your innovation is almost as important as the idea itself. Therefore knowing how leadership makes decisions about supporting initiatives is critical to your success. By developing relationships with senior leadership, it allows you to engage in the process of strategic thinking at the organizational level. As a result, you will have the ability to envision or discover innovative ideas that are already in line with this strategic thinking and overall need of the organization. But these are all skills that need to be developed and knowledge that needs to be acquired. How can you learn about successfully communicating with leadership? How can you learn to lead from where you are? How can you go about finding a mentor to support you in learning these new skills? All of these questions and more will be answered in this engaging panel discussion. So come join us for a fun and lively discussion to help you increase your knowledge of Innovation, Collaboration, and Leadership.


Level of Participation:

This session is structured more like a game show with each panelist being provided approximately five to seven minutes to introduce their thoughts on Innovation, Collaboration, and Leadership. Following the introduction, attendees will pose challenges they have faced or questions they have about these three areas (Question cards will be available to help kick-off the conversation). The panelists will then compete to provide the best answer to the questions in under three minutes. Attendees will award points for the best answer provided by the panelists. The winner of the game will win a special prize.


Session Goals:

Individuals attending this panel discussion will be able to discuss several strategies for identifying innovative opportunities in higher education. They will be able to describe the best strategies for selecting collaborators for new initiatives. And lastly, they will be able to articulate the necessary considerations for acquiring support from leadership when pursuing new initiatives.