University of Virginia news in the last couple of weeks deserves all of the attention that it is getting, and more. In a previous blog I suggested that these events revealed the criticality of addressing technology at a strategic level for traditional not-for-profit higher education, public and private, large and small institutions.
In this blog, I suggest that institutions create a role that largely does not exist in order to move to the next level of higher education strategy for the 21st century. I have thought deeply about this concept for some time, but need help to flesh it out.
The main focus of this role would be to design programs, applications and initiatives that fully utilize new teaching, learning, research and revenue models utilizing innovative instruction delivery concepts to lifelong learners, including traditional students.
This role brings to it the pieces of functions that currently exist in positions such as the chief information officer, teaching and learning directors, academic librarians, teaching excellence and distance education personnel. Ideally, this role would synthesize all of those pieces to create clearly definable, identifiable programs that could be implemented at individual institutions or in collaboration among institutions, including on a global basis. The magic is not in recognizing that it needs to be done, or in recognizing that many fruitful pieces of this role exist in already defined positions, but in cutting across the silos that are part of why and how traditional, not for profit higher education is not moving more assiduously forward in this area.
So if the first lesson of the UVA case was to see it is an object lesson in the challenges that affect us all, this second lesson is a call for a new role in our institutions to do this strategic and functionally important work. Now, Reader, it is up to you to give it a name, draw reporting lines, and to put flesh on the bones of this idea. Have at it!