Skip to content

Online Learning as a Strategic Asset

The use of online and blended learning in traditional courses and training programs is fairly diverse. In some instances, faculty members or trainers simply decide they want to try podcasting or blogs or video in their courses. These bubbles of innovation exist on almost any campus or organization. In other instances – more rare and expensive – an organization plans to “move online”. This involves a change in design process, allocation of resources, new policies, and skill development of staff or trainers. This process can be effective if it is taken with a strategic view on transforming the learning experience for the online environment, rather than simply transferring it.
A valuable report (in two parts) has been produced by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities and Sloan-C: Online Learning as a Strategic Asset. It’s a good report, addressing many of the pitfalls I often see in universities and colleges as departments decide they need this internet thing for their courses (a realization often facilitated by the loss of students to institutions that offer online programs). The section on faculty is quite insightful: 24% of faculty responding teach at least one online course (that seems high), only 9% were developing online courses, more females than males teach online, most faculty teach online to meet needs of student flexibility.
My complaint: a fine line exists between providing structure for innovation to flourish and killing innovation. At parts (especially when the focus turns to benchmarking and intellectual property), the report veers into the land of innovation killing.

Related: Terry Anderson and I are offering a f2f workshop in November: strategic considerations of technology.