Effectively Leading Innovation: Advice from Experienced Industry Leaders

Concurrent Session 4
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Based on themes from the edited collection The Business of Innovating Online (Stylus, 2019), this panel session will offer the perspectives of online education leaders who have direct experience with creating and sustaining innovative online organizations at three different institutions of higher education.


Dr. Katie Linder is an avid writer and researcher with a passion for process and peeking behind the scenes at what it takes to be a successful academic. Currently, Katie directs the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit and serves as an associate editor for the International Journal for Academic Development. She is also the creator of the Radical Self-Trust Podcast Channel and the host of a weekly interview-based podcast called Research in Action. She writes a weekly essay series called The Academic Creative. Her most recent book is Managing Your Professional Identity Online: A Guide for Faculty, Staff, and Administrators.

Additional Authors

Shannon Riggs serves as Executive Director of Course Development and Learning Innovation for Oregon State University Ecampus. In this role, she supports Oregon State’s land grant mission by providing leadership and direction for course development and learning innovation throughout the division. She directly oversees several units, including the Ecampus Course Development and Training Team, the Ecampus Research Unit, and Ecampus Open Educational Resources. Since coming to Extended Campus in 2011, Riggs has served as an instructional designer, as director of the Ecampus course development and training unit, and on the University’s Faculty Senate and several of its subcommittees. Active nationally in the field of online and continuing education, Riggs regularly presents at conferences and has written for publication about online course development, faculty development, leadership, and innovation. She is currently serving a three-year elected position for the Quality Matters Instructional Design Association leadership team and a three-year elected position for the WCET Steering Committee. Riggs is also a contributor to High Impact Practices in Online Education (Stylus, 2018) and The Business of Innovation (Stylus, 2018), and is the author of Thrive Online: A New Approach for College Educators (forthcoming in 2019 from Stylus Publishing).
Dr. Luke Dowden joined the Alamo Colleges District as its Chief Online Learning Officer and Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs in April 2018. Through Alamo Colleges Online, he will lead and support capacity building initiatives at all five Colleges so each may gain a greater market share of online learners in their respective service areas. Prior to joining Alamo Colleges Online, Dr. Dowden founded the Office of Distance Learning at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 2010 and served as its Director for 8 years. Under Dowden's leadership, the Office of Distance Learning earned the 2013 Online Learning Consortium Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching. Dowden was honored in 2014 as the inaugural recipient of the Online Learning Consortium Bruce N. Chaloux Award for Early Career Excellence in Online Education. Aside from creating and implementing the university's ULearn faculty professional development for online teaching program, significant achievements under Dowden's leadership include the creation of an electronic course design and certification process, facilitating the development and delivery of 13 new online degree programs, and creation of a suite of instructional technology tools for online course delivery. Prior to joining UL Lafayette, Dowden founded the Division of Accelerated Learning at Bossier Parish Community College. He led creation of 6 online, accelerated degree programs with wrap-around student support services. During this time, the Louisiana Board of Regents tabbed him to found the Center for Adult Learning in Louisiana. As Executive Director of CALL from 2008-2013, he worked primarily with 6 community colleges and regional universities to create and launch over 18 accelerated online degree programs, introduce prior learning assessment policies and strategies, and coordinate marketing the programs statewide to the over 500,000 adults with some college and no degree. He is a past Steering Committee and Executive Council Chair for the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies (WCET). WCET is the leader in the practice, policy, & advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. Dowden earned a bachelor's in History and a master's degrees in Adult Education from Northwestern State University before earning his Doctorate of Education in higher education administration in 2009 (Nova Southeastern University) He is a 2010 Graduate of the Penn State and Online Learning Consortium Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning (IELOL). He also is a member of the graduate faculty in the College of Education at UL Lafayette.
Thomas Cavanagh, Ph.D. is Vice Provost for Digital Learning at the University of Central Florida. In this role he oversees all classroom technology and the distance learning strategy, policies, and practices of one of the nation’s largest universities, serving 68,000 students, where online learning represents more than 47% of the university's annual credit hours. In his career, Tom has administered e-learning development for both academic (public and private) and industrial (Fortune 500, government/military) audiences. He has been recognized with a number of awards including the WCET Richard Jonsen Award, the USDLA Outstanding Leadership Award, and been named an Online Learning Consortium Fellow. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and serves on a number of national advisory boards. He is also an award-winning author of several mystery novels.

Extended Abstract

In today’s changing higher education landscape, there is a critical need for concrete narratives of innovation success that can serve as a foundation for administrators and leaders who are in need of practical guidance as they scale and grow their online learning organizations. Through specific examples and practical suggestions from experienced industry leaders, this panel session will introduce audience members to concrete strategies for how to create a climate of creativity and innovation that can lead to more successful and scalable online programs and initiatives.

Each panelist is a contributor to The Business of Innovating Online, a recently released edited collection that provides online education administrators with a comprehensive overview of a range of online innovations, as well as concrete steps they can take to create a more innovative culture for their own online and distance education organization.

While creating a culture of innovation is a goal for many online learning administrators, the steps to doing this work are not always clear. This panel will offer specific examples of ways to scale and grow online learning organizations while staying true to a vision of innovation. Through stories of innovation success, the panelists will help to demystify the relationship between business, creativity and innovation by describing the logistics required to create an agile online education enterprise.

Possible topics to be discussed include:

  • Defining innovation and creativity for online education and e-learning
  • Establishing a vision for innovation
  • Organizational structures that support innovation
  • Knowing when and how to innovate
  • Creating a culture of innovation
  • Effectively leading innovation
  • Collaborative innovation
  • Making innovation stick and transitioning innovative strategies into day-to-day practice
  • Assuring quality in the midst of innovation
  • Staffing structures/administrative stability to support creativity and innovation