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  1. Kieran Mathieson
    March 18, 2013 - 7:11 am

    Thnx for the series. Useful stuff.

    “the delivery model and the choice of specific technologies must be driven by faculty, supported by professionals such as instructional designers.”

    This implies that faculty are not professionals. No argument there. Few faculty know enough about learning to warrant being called learning professionals.

    Does this mean that amateurs are making key decisions? Is that a good idea?

    If not, what to do?

    Thnx again for sharing your experience. It’s helps us all.


    • Tony Bates
      March 18, 2013 - 6:02 pm

      Thanks, Kieran

      Not sure I would put it the way you do. Faculty are professionals in their subject domain. In other words, they (usually) have a deep understanding of the subject matter, and thus what is required to become a historian or chemist or nurse, for instance. But, as you say, they are rarely professionals in educational technology or learning theory. My goal is to combine these two areas of expertise through team work, thus making teaching and learning more effective. When it comes to deciding for instance what is best done online and what best done face-to-face, the input of subject matter experts is critical, but they can be helped to see alternatives by instructional designers. Ideally faculty would be trained to be both subject matter experts and educators, but there are currently systemic barriers to this.

  2. Howard Davis
    March 19, 2013 - 9:52 am

    Tony, this is spot on. It’s my experience, also, that successful online programs are successful when senior leadership mandates/supports the strategic development of an online initiative. Conversely, homegrown, bottom-up, attempts at starting and growing online courses, certificates, degrees typically wither on the vine for lack of a strategic game plan, “official” support, and resources.

    Curiously though, I’ve found, even before this current brouhaha over MOOCs, that when I’ve asked senior leadership about why they actually wanted to launch an online program, that there was often a very pregnant pause before they responded.

    • Tony Bates
      March 19, 2013 - 5:43 pm

      Thanks, Howard

      One thing I didn’t mention is how difficult I often find it to get a serious conversation about online learning with senior administrators when I’m visiting a university or college. Far too often, the VP Academic will introduce me as a speaker at a faculty event, say how important the topic is, then apologize and leave immediately, without hearing what I have to say. Sometimes they are kind enough to attend a lunch or dinner, which is really often my only chance to have a serious conversation about rationale, strategy and ongoing support, but often most of the time is given over to small chit chat. There are of course always exceptions, but I feel it shouldn’t have to be exceptional to have such a serious conversation about what is becoming a core issue for most institutions. Maybe someone should run a workshop for university presidents and VPs on the digital revolution – but they would probably then invite someone who has run a MOOC!.

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