OLC Leadership Network Event - Part 2: Leadership Lessons from the Pandemic

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session Leadership OLC Session

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Brief Abstract

This session will reflect on key online education leadership lessons learned during the spring and summer of 2020 due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Although these lessons were particularly applicable during the pandemic, they remain relevant going forward for anyone working in higher education.

When the COVID-19 pandemic struck the U.S. during spring 2020, U.S. colleges and universities had to respond in new and creative ways. Thrust suddenly into the spotlight as the savior of higher education, online learning had to quickly scale and support faculty and students at a level never seen before.

This session will reflect on several key leadership lessons learned through the process of navigating the challenges of the pandemic, with an emphasis on those that will remain relevant even in a less unprecedented context.

The speaker’s institution (UCF) will be used as a case study in order to illustrate examples of the leadership lessons, but attendees will also be engaged to share their own experiences.

Session outline:

-UCF context, including pandemic migration statistics
-Leadership Lessons:
--- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
--- Be Flexible
--- But Know Your Non-Negotiables
--- Create Urgency
--- Set an Example
--- Capitalize on New Opportunities
--- Be Human

Each of these lessons will be expanded upon and illustrated with examples. Attendees will be invited to share their own examples and to add to this list with their own leadership lessons through a structured discussion.

Sponsored By


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

Join us for this one of three sessions at OLC’s Fall Leadership Network Event, where we bring together digital leaders from academic institutions, non-profits, and the private sector to discuss strategies for creating and sustaining online, blended, and digital learning leadership that centers student success.  Digital leaders are guiding initiatives at traditional academic institutions and non-profits, developing new products and approaches within the private sector, and working to establish policies and regulations within government, all at a time where access to an equitable and impactful education is challenged for many prospective and matriculated students. We see ever increasing demand for cross-sector collaborations led by digital leaders across an increasingly diverse educational landscape. Join us at this half-day event for featured presentations and small group discussions on opportunities for digital leaders, both established and emerging, in identifying challenges and surfacing practices for digital learning leadership that promotes and accelerates student success.

The Leadership Network Event option is included in your OLC Accelerate Virtual Conference 2020 registration fee. There is no additional registration fee to participate in the event. Learn more about this session and all of the sessions at the Leadership Network Event page.