Building the Infrastructure for Innovative Collaborative Course Design and Development

Concurrent Session 2

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Gain tips for building an infrastructure to support innovation in online course design and development processes.


With over 17 years of experience developing adult-centered online programs, Jennifer knows what drives student success— learning experiences that connect academic content to learners’ own lives in realistic, relevant, and relatable ways. Jennifer has managed e-learning initiatives and operations for public, private, and for-profit institutions of higher education. She has led the development of solutions focused on scaling instructional design processes using Lean and project management principles while building infrastructures to keep pace with the evolving state of online higher education. Jennifer earned a BA in Corporate Communication from Marietta College, an MAEd in Adult Education and Distance Learning from the University of Phoenix, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from The University of Dayton. She is also a graduate of the OLC's Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Education.
I have been working at Excelsior College for 11 years where I spent the majority of my tenure as the Program Assistant for Online Course Management in the School of Business & Technology. In my current position as Course Development Operations Manager, provide leadership and supervision to a team of 9 Course Development Specialists who are responsible for programming course content for new developments and major revisions, minor revisions, course enhancements and updates, creation of multimedia, and term-to-term maintenance. I play a key role in the course development process, course development policies and processes, coordination of course development/maintenance operations, and continuous improvement initiatives. This past year, I managed 125 course development projects and 16 course developments with several external vendors. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Liberal Studies and a Masters of Arts in Liberal Studies.

Extended Abstract

This session describes how the leadership team within Excelsior College's Center for Online Education, Learning and Academic Services has used using Lean principles as a framework for developing and leading cross-functional teams and processes that can keep pace with rapid changes of the 21st century. Participants will gain practical examples for changing processes to promote and support innovation specific to course design and development.

Derived from a manufacturing model for improving efficiency, the Lean philosophy provides a research-based framework for reviewing current processes to identify and eliminate sources of waste, minimize errors, reduce costs, enhance quality, and engage in continuous improvement (Balzer, 2010). Lean takes a systems approach, examining both people and processes, to create a culture that promotes and manages change as a continuous improvement effort. It is the systems approach that serves as the foundation upon which a culture of innovation can be built.

During the session, attendees will gain knowledge of:
ïLean principles and systems thinking as applied to online higher education;
ïWays to use Lean principles to rethink teams and redesign processes to allow for innovative course design and development;
ïWays to capitalize on existing challenges and initiatives to introduce process changes and continuous improvement efforts that allow for innovation and experimentation.

Using personal examples, the presenters will share how Excelsior College is developing a more flexible and collaborative course design process to allow for integration of innovative instructional practices such as CBE, games, and simulations; creating work flows and teams to support design/development of 120+ online courses annually; and promoting a culture with an openness to change and flexibility while preserving the institutional commitment to quality online course design and development.

Balzer, W. K. (2010). Lean higher education: Increasing value and performance of university processes. New York, NY: CRC Press.