Chief online education officers (COEOs): We love them, we need them, but how can we best support them in these uncertain COVID-19 times?

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session Leadership

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Brief Abstract

In these challenging COVID-19 times, presidents and provosts look to their chief online education officer (COEO) more than ever to provide leadership and assure quality in the administration of online and remote programmatic efforts. Join this session to discuss how higher-ed senior leadership can best empower and support their COEO.



Dr. Georgianna Laws is a strategic and results-driven educational leader with expertise in revolutionizing online classrooms and digital academic environments. She currently coordinates the College of Online Education at Life University, the world’s largest doctor of chiropractic campus. In this capacity, she has operational oversight of all online programs, with a portfolio including mission, accreditation, student demand, quality assurance, curriculum, design, technology, faculty needs, and resources. Dr. Laws has extensive expertise in online education, instructional design, policy authoring, and academic program leadership. She speaks to national audiences in the area of online program administration, cybersecurity, as well as online instruction and instructional design. Dr. Laws also serves on the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) board of directors and reviews proposals for national conferences through the USDLA and the Online Learning Consortium. Dr. Laws worked on three continents, which affords her a unique appreciation of global issues, diversity, and inclusion. Through her career, she served in several roles in teaching, training, instructional design, curriculum, program management, and leadership at public and private, for-profit and non-profit, corporate and higher-education institutions such as the Japanese American Language Institute, Berlitz, University of Phoenix, Tallahassee Community College, Florida State University, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Georgianna earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching English and French from Ploiesti University, a master’s degree in adult education and distance learning from the University of Phoenix Online, and a doctor of education in higher education leadership degree from Maryville University Online. Her doctoral research focused on the legitimate power that chief online education officers hold over online-program quality assurance at higher-education institutions in the United States. She also holds Quality Matters higher-education peer reviewer and chair certification, Online Learning Consortium (OLC) teaching and course design certification, OLC mastery in the quality scorecard for online program administration, as well as basic certification in the Digarc Curriculog and Acalog products. This year she is participating in the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL).

Extended Abstract


  1. Discuss the pre- and post-pandemic role the chief online education officer (COEO) plays at your particular institution.
  2. Describe how your institution's COEO is directly involved in addressing some of the most unprecedented post-pandemic challenges in terms of online and remote teaching and learning.
  3. Identify key realistic ways in which the COEO needs authority and resources from your institution in order to lead online and remote efforts with the utmost quality.

Extended Abstract:

The chief online education officer (COEO) umbrella term encompasses a variety of job titles, such as [coordinator, director, dean, vice president, provost, or chief officer] of [online education, eLearning, or distance learning]. The year 2020 marks a decade since most higher-education institutions in the United States adopted this role. Sadly, it also marks the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the unprecedented year when all institutions scrambled to switch face-to-face programming to an emergency remote-delivery format. The longer the pandemic lasts, the more dilemmas arise, particularly in the administration of remote instruction. Now more than ever, presidents and provosts look to their COEO to provide institutional leadership. But what do COEOs need in order to be successful during the pandemic and beyond? And how can presidents and provosts best empower their COEO? A recent research study shed light on how senior leadership can best calibrate the COEO’s authority such as to maximize this professional’s ability to influence quality in the administration of online programs. Join this session for an exclusive look at the study and to discuss its relevance and application in various institutional contexts. Most importantly, you are invited to take this opportunity to engage in exploratory dialog with fellow administrators about how best to support the COEO professional in your organization during these uncertain COVID-19 times.