According to Dr. Tony Bates, there are systemic problems with leadership in online learning management in higher education. In one of his 2018 year end reviews titled “2018 review of online learning: weak leadership,” Tony describes two classic cases of weak leadership in the area of digital and online learning. Dr. Bates is a Canadian scholar with a distinguished background in the area of distance learning.
The e-Learning cases he highlighted were:
Case 1: There was no project management, no change of course design, no course director, and three months before the course was due to be launched, no confirmed instructors. Worst of all, the department was not listening to the advice of the Centre for Teaching and Learning
Case 2: Under pressure from a couple of deans, the acting provost of a large university summons all the deans to a meeting to discuss ‘what we should be doing about e-learning.’ An external expert is invited to address the meeting for about 20 minutes. This is followed by a largely unstructured discussion where it is clear that about a third of the deans are anxious to move ahead rapidly with blended and fully online courses for credit, about half are open to moving but need more resources and technical help before making any commitments, and one or two are sullenly quiet, suggesting opposition….
Twelve months later, the situation remains the same, under a new Provost.
Does this sound familiar? Many higher education administrators and faculty members are still ignorant about the benefits and challenges of online and hybrid education. Universities need a strategic plan for online education so classic cases like the above are not so common.
Tony Bates is a well known leader in online teaching and administration. You can learn more about online learning from Dr. Bates by following his blog or by reading his free, open textbook, Teaching in a Digital Age. I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Bates and attend one of his sessions at the 2017 World Conference on Online Learning.
Don’t miss Tony’s other 2018 year-end reviews:
- 21st century knowledge and skills
- Review of online learning: open pedagogy
- Summary of the 2018 survey of online learning in Canadian colleges