• Rethinking Higher Education

    Peter Smith's take on opportunity and access in higher education, the unmet challenges that remain, and the future that lies ahead for those willing to tackle it.

Maturing Practice: EdifyOnline

EdifyOnline has a suite of services that cover the horizon of online teaching needs.

April 29, 2020

In one respect, almost every initiative I am describing in this series, whether labeled a “big idea,” a “maturing practice” or a “UMGC example,” contributes to the notion of maturing practice. Because all these practices are, at one and the same time, serving people while they are also developmental and exploratory. In this world, improvement, fine-tuning and adjustment never end.

I first learned of EdifyOnline, which I advise, about a year ago. And I was taken by the sheer simplicity of the company's vision, as well as its significant contribution to quality online learning and teaching. For institutions who think that they need to use their own faculty solely in a new program, think again.

When considering entering the online and blended space, one of the greatest mistakes that traditional institutions and their faculties make is to underestimate how different and complex online learning is. And underestimating how difficult it is to teach effectively online lies at the heart of these mistakes.

Into this space comes EdifyOnline, with a suite of services that cover the horizon of online teaching needs. For an institution that wants to enter the online and blended space, they can provide trained adjuncts whose expertise and knowledge are aligned with planned online courses complete with background checks, onboarding processes and training in online teaching. They also have a continuous improvement and QA feedback loop that is constantly allowing for the refinement of services. Or, if an institution is already in the space successfully, EdifyOnline can manage the full operation of faculty support and assessment for them.

Although this might appear to fly in the face of traditional faculty management, it satisfies the new demands for quality that come with the online space -- things such as giving students real-time course feedback, moderating online discussions, consistent course content quality, daily and weekly updates on activities, flexible participation, and accessibility to see course progress 24-7.

At the same time, the institution, Edify’s client, retains control of course content and design, faculty standards, and hiring and firing. So, it benefits from the bundling of services such as recruitment, training, QA and data analytics on participation and engagement while retaining control over the basic levers of academic quality.

This type of maturing practice leaves the important administrative and quality assurance responsibilities where they need to be -- with the institution. But the ability to bundle and integrate the internal functions that, collectively, create the desired consistent quality outcomes is critical. An entity like EdifyOnline focuses full-time on getting better at what they do. This results in levels of sophistication and capacity that would be difficult if not impossible to achieve with institutional resources at the individual institutional level.

In my next post, I will present another approach to improving the quality of the online experience through greater engagement, community building and retention.



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