From Reactive to Strategic Leadership of Online, Blended, and Digital Spaces
Concurrent Session 3
The post-inoculation phase of the pandemic has raised serious questions about right-sizing the mix of instructional modalities to meet student demand, faculty readiness, institutional capability, and regional needs while simultaneously preparing to offset future challenges to normal operations. Join us for a panel discussion with the authors of OLC’s new leadership playbook containing recommendations for institutional efficacy, strategy, and student success in the post-Pandemic digital, blended, and online learning world.
Co-presenter: Tanya Joosten, National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
The pandemic ushered in use of digital, blended, and online learning at scales never before imagined in higher education. Its waning has now left many institutions asking what’s next and how best to reconcile newly acquired digital competency from all corners of the faculty, wants for students for increased digital service and institutional support, questions from institutional leaders about the past year’s digital learning quality when instruction shifted remote in an emergency capacity, and a most puzzling enrollment management picture which pushes institutions to right-size instructional modalities across its schedule of classes. Do the leadership structures of institutions and organizations play a role in the success of online and blended programs? How do reporting structures and departmental organization make a difference in how programs function and are supported?
A new leadership playbook from the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advances (DETA), the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), and the Every Learner Everywhere (ELE) Network aims to tackle post-pandemic institutional leadership strategy and culture needed to optimize a healthy blend of instructional modalities including digital, blended, and online learning. This primer offers insights for academic leaders who aim to create resilient institutions, providing strategies to adopt big picture thinking, respond to external factors, leverage the strengths of their institution, maximize relationships, and take strategic action to develop responsive planning in a post-inoculation era.
The time to go from reactive to strategic with regards to instructional modalities is now. The literature tells us that blended colleges and universities focus on students’ needs, while providing support and learning experiences across modalities: qualities the majority of students prefer, according to the Spring 2021 Digital Pulse Survey, in which 68 percent of students “agreed” or “strongly agreed” they supported the continued availability of post-pandemic blended or hybrid course options. While our universities and colleges are “surviving the buffeting of the world” and are “regaining their composure and proceeding on about their business” (Meadows, 2008, p. 75), they highlight the need for agility to strategically adapt to what is happening around us. In creating institutions that are able to adapt to growing needs, the promise of the resilient college and university is restorative and transformative. It provides a moment to create an orchestral arrangement of opportunities and experiences through strategic activities centering the student of our time and in preparation for the evolutionary student of the future.
Leading our institutions during uncertain times, we find ourselves responding to rapid change as new information arrives daily reminding us we can’t go back; we can only move forward. Amidst changes in student demographics and projected enrollment declines with a backdrop of campus closures across the United States, we are aware of the urgency of the call to action to create resilient and nimble institutions for our post-inoculation future, adroit in all instructional modalities. To go from reactive to strategic, we must reflect on what we have learned during the pandemic about remote work and learning, nurture our capacity for big picture thinking, and capture the advantages of digital, blended, and online learning.
This session will discuss actionable strategies for how to apply them to the strategy, systems thinking, and intentional culture building that must follow. Our aim is to help you create and refine leadership systems that are scalable and adaptable to all future modality challenges our nation and its education system might face. Join the conversation!