Never Waste a Leadership Opportunity: Reframing Local Technological Changes for Academic Transformation

Workshop Session 1

Brief Abstract

Left unharnessed, technological changes have the power to disrupt institutions chaotically. However, leaders must control these changes to transform the institution in desired ways.


J. Garvey Pyke, Ed.D., is the Director of the the Center for Teaching at UNC Charlotte. His work involves fueling the enrollment growth at the university through online course development, creating high impact student success programs using personalized and adaptive learning, promoting faculty success and scholarly teaching through innovative faculty development programs, and overseeing the provision and support of enterprise academic technologies. Garvey is also an alumnus of OLC's IELOL program (2010) and has remained an active member of this professional community of practice and served as co-director of IELOL 2018 and as a faculty member of IELOL from 2019 - 2021. He has served on various conference committees for OLC Accelerate and has served on the Steering Committee for OLC Innovate.
Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Ciabocchi currently serves as associate provost for academic affairs at Adelphi University. In this role, she oversees all curricular offerings, working closely with each of the University’s deans, faculty and administrative offices to implement, manage and revise the curriculum, including interdisciplinary offerings. She also serves as the primary Adelphi University liaison with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE), the New York State Education Department and the U.S. Department of Education. With more than 25 years of experience in higher education, Liz most recently served as vice provost for digital learning and executive director of online learning and services at St. John’s University, where she led academic initiatives to develop digital learning strategies for programs offered in fully online and hybrid formats. Prior to her time at St. John’s, she served in various roles at Long Island University, such as associate vice president for online learning, and also in areas including instructional technology, academic planning and academic affairs. She previously worked at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine and the New York College of Health Professions. Author of two book chapters, Liz has published peer-reviewed journal articles and has presented her research on leadership and e-learning in higher education and other topics at dozens of conferences. Her teaching experience includes graduate-level courses in St. John’s University’s School of Education and undergraduate courses and graduate thesis supervision at the New York College of Health Professions. She has been extensively involved in committees and evaluation teams for Middle States reaccreditation and has held board and committee positions with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), which named her a fellow in 2015. Liz earned her EdD in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University; a Doctor of Chiropractic degree from New York Chiropractic College; and a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology from the University of Scranton. She holds certifications from the OLC in Online Teaching and Leadership in Online Learning.

Extended Abstract

Left unharnessed, technological changes have the power to transform institutions chaotically, against the institution's will. However, there is a leadership opportunity to control these changes and transform the institution in desired ways. Ultimately, what leaders must do when faced with these challenges is to take a holistic approach to tame the chaos.

In this session, we will focus on local disruptions and how they can be successfully managed for greater institutional goals and academic transformation. We will set the context by sharing several major changes at our institution [NOTE: these could be anything--the session is not about these things, per se--they are only examples upon which we hang the session themes; e.g., switching from paper-based to web-based course evaluations, changing the campus LMS, intentionally doubling DE enrollments, etc.].

These will serve as the backdrop to discuss three major themes:
(1) Changing systems leads to people changes and process changes;
(2) Managing and properly reframing these changes leads to academic transformation;
(3) Taking a leadership perspective vs. an operational perspective is required to make this happen.

Without an active leadership role to negotiate all three of these, technological changes have no framework and can therefore act upon the institution in ways that are undesired. And even when a major change is embraced, operational effort is so great that it becomes easy to lose the leadership perspective, thereby losing the transformative power of the change.

Session Learning Objectives

As a result of attending this conference workshop, participants will be able to:
- Identify how one recent technological change has transformed their institution, positively and negatively.
- Reframe a major change from a leadership perspective vs. an operational perspective.
- Create action items to harness changes to align with desired transformational goals.

Participant Activities

We anticipate this session to be highly engaging. During the workshop, the interactive participation will comprise of more than half the time, balanced throughout the session. There will be an anticipatory question posed at the beginning, where participants will brainstorm in written and oral forms, sharing in small groups and also the whole group. During the session, facilitators will use examples to launch discussions around each theme. Groups will be given a case study scenario to discuss. Participants will also write and share strategies for each topic area as they relate to their own campus. Questions will be encouraged throughout, in addition to time allocated at the end for general questions and comments.

This addresses how to transform institutions more deeply than simply rolling out yet another successful technological change. Instead, we are creating a bigger, ongoing discussion with university stakeholders about what is valuable in teaching and learning in the academy. It is only when leaders see these opportunities for what they really are--leadership opportunities--then we create change.