I participated in the CxO roundtable webinar focused on Online Education Platforms. The conversation was a great sharing of experiences of various universities experiences evaluating and using these platforms to support their online education programs. I have had multiple exposures to designing programs for online platforms from working at the university to the consulting I have done with universities building programs around innovation centers and regional cluster development. There is an overwhelming need to build global education communities that can extend the reach of their offerings to students and workforces internationally. Online programs are both in demand and liked by students/workers that want the flexibility and non-geographic limitations of access to training.
The platforms primarily being discussed on this call ranged from:
- BlackBoard – Ultra
- D2L Bright Space
Challenges range from:
- Training internal staff
- Culture shift of faculty
- Metrics and measurement – definition of success
- Looking ahead to where today’s trends are heading
The institution on the call are in the early adoption and learning phases being only a few years into their pilots. Current challenges are similar and tactical in nature. The conversation will pivot past the “how to” stage and into considering that the full potential and reach of these platforms will vastly exceed the brick and mortar aspects of the institutions that they implement in.
Some key aspects they will need to address in the coming years will be:
- How institutional funding for new programs will be shifting to online
- Designing hybrid programs that blend with experiential learning
- Incorporating cutting edge industry practitioners to assure that online programs remain relevant and updated
- Running dependable 24/7 IT at global scale ( with what partners)
- Building retaining the online community past just the courseware
- Building new strategic partnerships across the globe to create world class / aggregated curriculum
- Redefining what degree means when your education is coming from many institutions
- Building students along side workforce
- Making lifelong learning central to the programs. Not just the basics, but constant indusry relevancy
These strategic aspects are also at the center of conversations are the development of innovation centers that integrate with many universities and industry partners. The shift is moving in the direction where the gap between university and industry training is closing and education needs to be integrated directly into the innovation ecosystem of industry and workforce development.