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POD’15.1 – Technology & academic change

November 4, 2015

pod tree logoTomorrow I head for San Francisco to attend and present at the annual conference of the POD Network. POD is a USA-based professional association for “scholars and practitioners who advance teaching and learning through faculty and organizational development.” Increasing numbers of colleges and universities are asking teaching centers to ensure that technology is used effectively when new modes of learning are adopted.

In the past few years, many colleges have expanded the scale and scope of centers that support teaching and learning with technology, as part of an effort to build a new “innovation infrastructure” for instruction.

That’s the lead sentence from a Wired Campus article this week about “Leading Academic Change,” a report released at the Educause conference a couple of weeks ago. I  expect that it will generate some great discussion at the POD Conference.

The report was produced by the University System of Maryland and funded by the Gates Foundation. It’s the result of a project that included interviews, a national survey of teaching centers, and a December 2014 summit for academic innovation leaders. The video below gives background on the summit.

I’m leery of the media-friendly buzz phrase “academic transformation,” but I believe that over the coming decade effective competition will force changes in higher education. I am hoping that new research is initiated in response to the tuition debt crisis, and that it finally convinces our society that well-run ethical institutions with low tuition can produce graduates who perform just as well in the workplace as those who attend higher priced alternatives.

Teaching center directors who responded to the Leading Academic Change survey listed these two items among their top five priorities:

  • 51% – Course/program development or redesign for blended/hybrid courses
  • 46% – Leveraging Cloud platforms for instruction (LMS, learning platforms)

Technology will be part of whatever academic transformation does occur – and teaching centers can expect to be in the thick of it!

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