Saturday, March 29, 2014

Scale (How you can help!)

In my personal studies, I have developed a keen interest in the issue of scale within the context of our e-learning mission within traditional institutions of education. I read in one source (I have tried to find it again to cite it, but to no avail) that the educational sector is the slo-o-owest of all sectors to adopt and integrate technology. Everyone who works in education would likely agree.

The challenge of helping to increase that momentum and move technology further and more deeply into the educational experience is the source of both my greatest excitement and my greatest fear. 

I recently decided to pursue my doctoral degree. As I am more interested in program administration than classroom teaching or research, I decided on an EdD with a specialization in higher education leadership. I have been thinking long and hard about what focus I would like to apply to my studies. I didn't have to think long to realize that the issue of scale is the one that is calling my name. 

I know that there are administrators who read my blog as well as faculty, students and other stakeholders in the e-learning revolution. For those of us who are involved in developing programs and scaling them into larger integrated functionality, I have added a section of resources labeled simply "Scale" and will be adding valuable resources there for your consideration and review. I welcome any conversation or insights on the topic as well. 

Of particular challenge to those struggling with the issue of scale is the proper assessment and evaluation of the current state of affairs in a given educational ecosystem or community. It's not enough to know what we want to happen next, we have to first do the hard and uncomfortable work of developing (and fixing broken or outdated) infrastructures with a thoughtful consideration of the future.

Taking those first steps in a way that doesn't frighten or intimidate stakeholders (colleagues, primarily) —while still demanding the full extent of forthright change that is required—is a very delicate and complicated problem to solve. We'll be exploring those issues in our conversations here as well. 

What's most important to say at this juncture is that the conversation around innovating our learning communities to keep up with our new millennial learners is one that must take place with all of us in the room. Where traditional management practices have had closed door meetings and decisions made for stakeholders by those who are signing the checks for goods and services, the successful scale strategy keeps the conversation open and interactive with every stakeholder, including the end learner. 

In a successful design, there will be layers of learning and teaching. Administrators willing to learn and to teach, e-learning staff willing to learn and to teach, faculty willing to learn and to teach, and end learners willing to both learn and teach (the value of peer teaching and learning becomes very apparent in the outcomes). 

So where do we start? We start by talking to each other. By adopting the tools and letting them sink into our daily living. By participating in faculty advisory opportunities presented by our institutions' administrations, quite frankly. Institutions have adopted that filled-room come-one-come-all policy of seeking stakeholder input, but often those stakeholders don't show up to actively participate. Apathy is a common theme across the many fields, not just education. But, as educators—we're different, aren't we?

The time is nigh! Are you coming?

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