Recent Research Implications on (Re)Calibrating Your Higher-Education Institution’s Chief Online Education Officer Role

Concurrent Session 6
Research Leadership

Brief Abstract

Join this presentation to learn about a recently published study uncovering essential elements that can help you (re)calibrate your higher-education institution’s chief online education officer (COEO) role – the highest role on the organization chart to focus on online education.

 

Presenters

Dr. Georgianna Laws is a strategic and results-driven educational leader with expertise in revolutionizing online classrooms and digital academic environments. Dr. Laws has extensive expertise in online education, instructional design, policy authoring, and academic program leadership. She speaks to national audiences in the area of online program administration, cybersecurity, as well as online instruction and instructional design. Dr. Laws is an Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) alumna and a United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) board of directors member. She produces the annual USDLA National Distance Learning Week conference as well as the virtual experience of the USDLA annual national conference. Furthermore, she chairs the OLC Innovate leadership and advocacy track, while also reviewing conference proposals for USDLA and the Online Learning Consortium conferences. Dr. Laws worked on three continents, which affords her a unique appreciation of global issues, diversity, and inclusion. Through her career, she served in several roles in teaching, training, instructional design, curriculum, program management, and leadership at public and private, for-profit and non-profit, corporate and higher-education institutions such as the Japanese American Language Institute, Berlitz, University of Phoenix, Tallahassee Community College, Florida State University, and the Savannah College of Art and Design, Life University, Auburn University at Montgomery, and the University of North Texas at Dallas. Georgianna earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching English and French from Ploiesti University, a master’s degree in adult education and distance learning from the University of Phoenix Online, and a doctor of education in higher education leadership degree from Maryville University Online. Her doctoral research focused on the legitimate power that chief online education officers hold over online-program quality assurance at higher education institutions in the United States. She also holds Quality Matters higher-education peer reviewer and chair certification, Online Learning Consortium (OLC) teaching and course design certification, OLC mastery in the quality scorecard for online program administration, among others.Dr. Laws worked on three continents, which affords her a unique appreciation of global issues, diversity, and inclusion. Through her career, she served in several roles in teaching, training, instructional design, curriculum, program management, and leadership at public and private, for-profit and non-profit, corporate and higher-education institutions such as the Japanese American Language Institute, Berlitz, University of Phoenix, Tallahassee Community College, Florida State University, and the Savannah College of Art and Design. Georgianna earned a bachelor’s degree in teaching English and French from Ploiesti University, a master’s degree in adult education and distance learning from the University of Phoenix Online, and a doctor of education in higher education leadership degree from Maryville University Online. Her doctoral research focused on the legitimate power that chief online education officers hold over online-program quality assurance at higher-education institutions in the United States. She also holds Quality Matters higher-education peer reviewer and chair certification, Online Learning Consortium (OLC) teaching and course design certification, OLC mastery in the quality scorecard for online program administration, as well as basic certification in the Digarc Curriculog and Acalog products. This year she is participating in the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL).

Extended Abstract

During the last decade, we witnessed the rise of the chief online education officer (COEO) role in American higher-education institution. A recently published empirical study puts an end to the dearth of research pertaining to guidelines for conceptualizing the COEO role.

Using bureaucracy and contingency as theoretical framework, this quantitative, correlative, non-experimental study invited COEOs from all over the U.S. to share their perceptions of the quality of their institution’s online program, along with their ability to influence quality based on their legitimate power and environmental factors that could potentially impact their legitimate power. More specifically, the research questions looked for the presence of a statistically significant correlation between COEOs’ overall legitimate power and overall online program quality (as self-assessed by COEOs using the OLC Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs), as well as between COEOs’ perceived overall legitimate power and COEO-reported environmental factors. Absent a list of all COEO-type professionals in American higher education, this study used non-probability sampling combined with convenience and snowball sampling. The results pointed to a strong, positive correlation between overall legitimate power and overall quality, as well as between overall legitimate power and the hierarchy of COEO job titles. Additional environmental factors significantly correlated with legitimate power categories included the number of units making a full report to the COEO and the breadth of COEO’s current portfolio of responsibilities, among others, while the hardest quality category to influence was technical support.

Knowing overall power has a strong positive effect on overall quality, it would be advisable for senior leaders to consider crafting their COEO’s job description such that power levels are commensurate with the desired quality levels for which the hired COEO will be responsible. In other words, for one thing, the more critical the online program is to the institution, the higher the COEO would need to be placed within the organizational chart. Although gaps in the literature still remain—particularly regarding what enables a COEO to successfully drive quality in online education—there are promising activities both in practice and inquiry that can maximize the impact of COEOs in American online higher education. Join this session to learn more!

Format wise, this session will alternate presentation and discussion segments. The interactive Q&A and partner exercises aim to personalize the implications of this study on your institution’s existing or future COEO role. During this session you’ll also obtain a copy of the publication, along to a handout guiding you and your team through the process of (re)calibrating your institution’s COEO role.

This session is primarily intended for senior higher-education leaders/administrators as well as researchers focused on further investigating the chief online education officer role in the United States and what enables COEOs to successfully drive quality in online education.