In the past few months this blog has been in a hibernation of sorts. I just have not been motivated to write any more about MOOCs, online learning, strategic planning for instructional technology or such things. There are many reasons I can give for this hiatus. I no longer feel that technology change alone will bring significant changes in learning. Online learning, something I have long advocated, has largely won the pedagogical battle and now is integral to most institutions of higher education. And yet, significant change in how we conduct teaching has still eluded us, both individually and collectively.
Or, this blog’s hiatus could stem from my feeling that my talents in this area have gone largely untapped and unrecognized within my employment or extended sphere of influence. But that’s not it either. While these and other factors have some merit, what I feel is really lacking is a tangible idea of what a better model for higher education would look like in the context of our current societal challenges. In other words, I personally, and we collectively, need to “Re-envision the Vision.”
Where’s the Vision?
We are stuck. Stuck in the muck of our fears, belief systems, structures and histories—for starters. But before we relinquish these dysfunctional and antiquated patterns, we need to, as Stephen Covey wrote, “begin with the end in mind.” That “end” is a new vision for a new day.
“Vision” is essential for change, be it transformational, disruptive, paradigm- shifting, or innovative. These changes may be necessary, but they are clearly not sufficient in my view. If we are honest, we need to ask fundamental questions about what we are doing and what we wish to accomplish. For example:
- How does change happen at any college or university?
- How resistant are structures within these organizations to change?
- Are the changes we seek even possible within these given environments?
- Who are the change agents and what influence do they have?
- Where is that compelling, meaningful, achievable, and worthwhile vision for our college or university?
- Has this vision been recently updated to reflect the changing nature of society and the new challenges that students will face?
None of these questions, if honestly explored, will lead to the conclusion that change is easy, or in many instances, even do-able. Instead, it may lead to the conclusion, that if you have a compelling vision for what is needed, you had better expend your energies not with reforming what is, but rather, with creating new structures. More and more, this is the conclusion I am reaching in my evolution. But what does a new vision for learning look like? That is the subject for my next blog post.