In the first two posts of this blog series Bring your Online Learning Strategy into Focus, we considered how to ENVISION and RESOURCE the creation or conversion of an online program. This post presents advice for the planning stage of your online learning strategy. Either following or happening simultaneously with knowledge gathering about resources, the PLAN lets you start putting the puzzle pieces together towards action.
The connection between strong project management and successful online learning endeavors cannot be emphasized enough. In many ways, the online program is a construction site. You are putting forth a plan for building a learning environment, with the imperative to provide a strong foundation and anticipate future needs of growth.
This has important implications for academic communities- ad hoc exploratory approaches that are faculty interest driven may result in creative approaches, but may also make it difficult to centralize an online learning strategy that is sustainable and effective for the original vision. Also, decision by committees can work very well in the process of envisioning, resource gathering and planning- this is the time to seek broad perspectives. However, as the need for action becomes imminent, it will also be important to narrowly define who is responsible for managing this project and who gets to make some of the ultimate decisions. Frankly—how many people need to be copied on the email about X,Y & Z every decision?
Who is the DECIDER?
Oftentimes, this decision-making role will descend from the upper echelon as a vision, but at the point of execution, it is in the hands of course builders. Those who are putting the plan into action. Therefore, the plan should be fully developed with the overarching drivers for that decision-making process- make it clear what contextual variables should take priority and what foundational principles should inform all logistical decisions of designing, developing and implementing the program.
Here’s your TO DO List:
- Seek experienced input for planning
- Describe how program fits into existing school structure
- Draft course development compensation and reuse protocols
- Anticipate needs for integrating program into existing infrastructure
- Anticipate needs for program scaling and sustainability
- Develop a timeline