From a Beam of Light to a Prism: Assessing the Challenges of Building Partnerships Between Traditional and Non-Traditional Divisions

Concurrent Session 10

Brief Abstract

Though critical for driving access and generating revenue, online learning operations tend to operate on the periphery of institutions. This conversation will explore how to move online ed into the institutional core… and whether that’s even a good thing.


Amrit Ahluwalia is the Managing Editor of The EvoLLLution, the online newspaper developed by Destiny Solutions to create a conversation hub focused on non-traditional higher education and the transforming postsecondary marketplace. Ahluwalia was part of the team that conceived of and launched The EvoLLLution. The EvoLLLution, which launched in January 2012, serves over 1800 contributors and attracts approximately 60,000 monthly visitors. The site publishes articles and interviews by some of the industry’s leading thinkers at every level -- from presidents and provosts to deans and directors to educators and students to employers and government officials and everyone in-between -- from across the United States and around the world. Ahluwalia works personally with every contributor at The EvoLLLution to produce the content that has supported the site’s rise to becoming the top resource for non-traditional higher education. He regularly speaks on topics related to the changing higher education environment at conferences across Canada and the United States. Ahluwalia earned his BA (Honors) in Political Studies from Queen’s University and his MA in International Politics from McMaster University. He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

Extended Abstract

Online, continuing and non-credit divisions of colleges and universities tend to operate on the periphery of the institution. Despite the importance of their programming to creating access, supporting employability and generating revenue, it’s a constant challenge for these divisions to maintain lasting partnerships with divisions on campus. At the same time, traditional faculties are trying to find ways to get their content in front of new audiences and maintain relevance in the 21stcentury.

In this conversation, I hope to build a list of ideas and approaches to forging and maintaining strong partnerships between non-traditional divisions and their colleagues on “main campus”. Moreover, my expectation is to then discuss how to maintain an innovative and entrepreneurial spirit—critical to the DNA of a non-traditional division—as the unit shifts from the periphery to the institutional core.

Conversation topic 1: Building partnerships

  • What are the most common roadblocks stopping traditional faculties from partnering with online/continuing education?
  • Why have these roadblocks been effective in the past?
  • How have you worked to overcome/minimize these roadblocks to create faculty partnerships at your institution?
  • What’s the best way to sell these partnerships to faculty? (Access? Revenue generation? What makes them tick?)


Conversation topic 2: Maintaining innovation

  • Is it possible for a division to remain entrepreneurial and innovative with the increased oversight that tends to follow a move from the periphery to the core?
  • How can non-traditional divisions find ways to work non-credit credentials and certifications into otherwise traditional programs?