Bob, thank you again for the opportunity to share my input on the potential evolution of BSU as an institution. Guided by your vision, I do believe we have the potential to create a new form of university to respond to changes in our society and economy. It’s very exciting to consider that possibility. For me, the picture is bigger than helping faculty learn how to be innovative in their teaching. As I mentioned before, I believe it’s a cultural mindset that you have to establish as President, and your officers and deans can cultivate through their actions, attitude, language, and policies. I believe that mindset is one of strategic innovation. This could also be referred to as “learning innovation,” or whatever term seems appropriate, but ultimately, it seems like you may be seeking some of the attributes listed on this slide. As I mentioned before, for me and our work in EdTech, it’s innovation with a purpose, to solve problems, to help societal needs, to break out of old patterns that aren’t serving people well, and utilize whatever resources we have at our disposal to meet those needs.It’s a wonderful idea to consider what this mindset might look like if we apply it to all academic departments, to HR, to Purchasing, to Distance Education, and other units. When I think about how I would overlay what we’re doing in EdTech to a larger university scale, it’s also important to look at the focus and tools to support strategic innovation which I’ll discuss on the next two slides.
InEdTech, the focus has been to redefine our business. There are hundreds of online programs offering degrees that teach teachers how to integrate technology into the classroom. Although financially I understand our revenue comes from credit hour production, and Master’s degrees are our largest source of those hours, my business focus has been on creating leaders in EdTech, for both today and tomorrow. In our coursework, research, policy outreach, and partnerships, our goal is to create the standard that others will follow. We have to be innovative, and try things that sometimes fail. To do so, I have to hire the best people possible, and put my faith in their specialized knowledge to push the field forward in their own particular area. This has affected how we hire employees. We used to hire faculty to fill particular classes to teach. This didn’t really work, as people would often want other classes to teach after a year or so. More recently, we advertised for experts in their own specialized areas, and looked for people who would compliment what we did, but had a focus that was new for the department. We develop new pedagogy based on emerging technologies, develop products for e-learning due to needs in our own areas, and work with legislators to create policies that allow us to push the field forward. To me, these are the skills we want to model for our students, so they can assume roles as leaders and entrepreneurs. This is the reputation I want to create for our program.
As far as tools for strategic innovation, I’m seeing that a successful program, and university, is grounded in layers of technology that serve different purposes. And the stronger the coordination between those layers, the more effective the tools will be for students, faculty, staff, and the community. Bob, I believe that our ability to maneuver effectively at this level will give us a powerful hands-up over universities who may not see or utilize these connections. These layers of technology move from the invisible to the public to the visible, and understanding how to leverage those technologies at various levels to achieve various goals can be our ultimate trump card. At the bottom layer undergirding the system, and invisible to the public, is OIT and the enterprise level support they provide. One layer up is mobile information access. Without a doubt, this area will have the greatest impact on our university business over the coming years. The ability to access information, course content, recorded talks, support communications through IM, Twitter, phone, library materials, news, etc., will be critical to our growth as a university. Academic technologies is the front-line support for faculty and teaching. Currently, there appears to be little communication between OIT, AT, distance ed, marketing (social media), and our webmaster. As a faculty or staff member, there are three locations to receive training on campus that need centralization (AT, CTL, and Employee Training), and a single web presence. Distance education is a middle point, both visible to the public, and providing service directly to units on campus. They have done a good job of helping departments start-up online programs. However, a vanguard is needed to work across new and existing programs, and other layers of technology, marketing, and international education to effectively support a systems approach to strategic innovation as online programs continue to evolve. As we continue to put programs online, our international market will continue to expand, and those students need quick and successful facilitation to enter into distance-based programs. As we hire distance faculty, adjuncts, and staff, support is needed across other units to ensure those individuals are trained, as well as campus-based employees. Social media can be used much more effectively to share the work our faculty and students, and serve as a form of reputation building and recruiting. Marketing can be more innovative, and explore forms of how we message our audience, what genres we use, what it means to “market” in an institution devoted to innovation. We can shift from advertising to more effectively sharing our message via PR and social media.Our web presence at the top of the technology triangle, is our face to the public. It’s the space where we share information about programs, admissions, tuition, etc. However, it can also be the space where we gather data about usage, learn about our potential customers and their needs, track where we are getting our leads. I hope we can reexamine our website to consider stronger integration of digital media, RSS feeds of news from more departments, and more.Finally, these layers of technology shouldn’t work in solo. Their work can, and should be informed by academic departments who are directly involved in state-of-the-art research, so our departments can learn from the innovative research activities of faculty. Examples of these departments include business/marketing, computer science, EdTech, and IPT.
It appears many universities are attempting to address “innovation.” Position titles range from director to dean to associate provost, depending on the scope and level of emphasis on innovation. Several interesting approaches to innovation include MIT’s Entrepreneurship Center, which serves the university’s five schools, and acting as a nexus for entrepreneurship classes, clubs, activities, connecting businesses and entrepreneurs; University of Miami created LaunchPad, a place where students and alumni can submit ideas for a new company idea, and chosen ideas will be provided mentoring from the local business community. Finally, U of I has created their strategic innovation initiatives. To me, this approach doesn’t look innovative, it appears to be just a reshuffling of the existing pieces in the system, which respective deans overseeing a couple of “innovative” target projects.In response, I would propose that BSU would create an “IdeaLab” or InnovationLab,” a location that would support any faculty/staff/student who has an innovative idea, whether it be a new business, teaching approach, or solution to a problem that is inhibiting innovation on campus. The goal of IdeaLab would be to facilitate innovation at multiple levels, and to provide a physical and virtual location that illustrates BSU commitment to innovation at these various levels. An “Innovation Board” could be established to review and fast track the most promising ideas.
This is a proposed organizational chart of the new AVP position, shown in the center, and reporting to either the Provost or President, depending on which units were assigned to the individual. This configuration shows a “what if” approach, without regard for current structure and/or politics of reorganization. This is a “what if” we did choose strategic innovation as a focus for the university, what units would most effectively support that office? These are listed in green. On the top, you see OIT, Marketing, Idea Lab, and the Office of Tech Transfer. These areas all currently fall under the President and are viewed as administrative in nature. On the bottom, you see International Ed, Distance Ed, and CTL, academic offices currently falling under the Provost’s area. Surrounding the chart are individual units that don’t report to the AVP, but where there is constant community required in order to perform the duties of the office effectively. I am proposing a position that crosses over academic and administrative areas in a means to best support overall innovation on campus in a systemized and coherent approach. In blue, you see this person would also be involved in establishing organizational and corporate partnerships (toward the end goal of innovation), as well as state and national partnerships that might lead to innovation through either changes in legislation, national reports, etc. Essentially, what you see here is what my current job in EdTech involves, but on a university-wide scale. As an alternative, it would be possible to have an AVP of Learning Innovation by combining only the academic departments, however, I think the progress toward overall innovation will be slower and less coherent.
AVP strategic innovation
Mindset: Strategic Innovation<br />Strategic Innovation is the creation of growth strategies, new product categories, services or business models that change the game and generate significant new value for consumers, students and the university. <br />Strategic Innovation can challenge the university to look beyond its established business boundaries and mental models and to participate in an open-minded, creative exploration of the realm of possibilities.<br />
Example positions & approaches<br />Dir. of Prof. Dev & Innovative Initiatives, Virginia Tech<br />Dir. of Learning Innovation, Minn. Institute of Arts<br />Dean of Academic Affairs, Online Programs, Pacific Oaks College<br />Dean of Continuing & Innovative Education, UT Austin<br />Assoc. Provost Non-Curricular Arts & Initiatives, MIT <br />Entrepreneurship Center, MIT<br />LaunchPad, University of Miami<br />Strategic Innovation Initiatives, U of I http://www.uidaho.edu/innovations<br />
Goals of position<br />Foster an institution-wide cultural shift and mindset toward innovation to solve problems, support entrepreneurship, become outcomes-focused, and explore the boundaries between what is and what could be.<br />Establish and support communities of innovation at BSU. <br />Visualize strategies, and generate, implement and evaluate ideas.<br />Serve as a liaison for faculty, administration, and staff who wish to engage in innovative practices, projects, research, and teaching.<br />Work with organizational and corporate partners to support and sponsor strategic innovation at BSU.<br />Develop state and national relationships that would support strategic innovation at BSU.<br />Leverage marketing outreach and social networks as a way to share results, impact others, and support recruitment and retention.<br />Identify resources to support innovation.<br />Encourage and reward the development of innovative new programming.<br />
Early objectives of position<br />Establish “Idea Lab,” an office dedicated to supporting faculty and staff who have innovative projects/courses/teaching they would like to pilot.<br />Establish an “Innovation Board” to review and fast track the most promising ideas.<br />Develop, implement and evaluate a strategic plan across assigned areas.<br />Build an innovation portal to give people access to innovation tools, data, and to share their ideas.<br />Host an annual “Innovation Forum,” open to university and community members.<br />Develop a set of metrics to track innovative inputs and outputs.<br />Reward/recognize those who participate in innovative activities, whether they fail or succeed.<br />Centralize all BSU training in the CTL, and create a central learning presence on the web.<br />Add workshops in CTL that support educational innovation, creativity, small group leadership, group dynamics, etc.<br />Re-think Academic Technologies to support educational innovation at BSU. Establish a university-wide advisory committee for AT. Provide department community portals in Blackboard. Adopt web-based video conferencing university-wide, and integrate it into our daily work. State TIG grants should support faculty innovations that can be adopted university-wide. <br />Identify options for mobile access to coursework/communications.<br />Liaison with marketing to promote ongoing theme of innovation and leadership in higher education.<br />Webmaster: clean up site, integration of RSS feeds and video in department sites, showcasing of student and faculty work and outcomes, embed and use analytics for improvement. <br />