Landmark Report: Strategic Planning for Online Learning

The Association for Public and Land-Grant Universities (APLU), working with the Sloan National Commission for Online Learning, has produced a landmark study entitled “Online Learning as a Strategic Asset.” This extensive and comprehensive study reinforces some of the main themes of my blog which include:

  • The need for strategic planning by institutions regarding their online efforts
  • The perspective of seeing online as a valuable strategic asset
  • The understanding of college leaders of the need to properly fund, manage, publicize and grow online programs
  • The need for central administration oversight over many aspects of institutional online programs
  • The importance of a written policy that states online teaching is a mode of instruction that has equal institutional standing and support as traditional pedagogy
  • The importance of a written policy that online is fully in alignment with, and supportive of the institution’s mission
  • The need for dynamic and ongoing advocacy for online by top leaders within the institutional hierarchy
  • The need for empowered committees representative of all stakeholders within the institution to advise leaders on policy and planning issues regarding online
  • The need for sufficient, steady and reliable funding mechanisms for online learning
  • The importance of reviewing organizational strategies, policies and procedures to foster success of online implementation
  • The essential element of uniform, high-quality faculty development and support of online teaching technologies, and
  • The imperative for transparency and two-way communication in the formulation and dissemination of online policy to all stakeholders.

This extensive two-part study involved in-depth interviews and surveys of top university administrators (including chancellors and college presidents), faculty and students at 45 public institutions. Over 11,000 responses were taken and analyzed for this “benchmarking” report designed to “illuminate how public institutions develop and implement the key organizational strategies, policies, processes and procedures that contribute to successful and robust online learning initiatives.” (Executive Summary, Volume 1, page 5)

In one of my earlier blog posts, entitled “Online as a Strategic Asset,” I wrote about the need for CUNY to see online learning as an important asset, one that requires support, direction, and policy. I strongly believe that findings from this report can help CUNY in terms of developing strategies for adopting online learning into our teaching and learning agenda.

In upcoming posts, I will detail more of the findings of Volume 1 from this study, (“A Resource for Campus Leaders”) with an eye toward examining institutional policies and perspectives regarding online teaching and learning. Toward that end, I will be distributing a survey to online administrators within CUNY to gauge their views on the state of online at their colleges. Findings will then be reported at the CUNY Technology Conference (December 1st) in a panel I will lead entitled “Strategic Planning for Online: Potential for CUNY Campuses.”


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