2. Work with faculty and students to ensure that they understand the program’s benefits. For example, if there is a snow day, suggest to faculty that they could bring the class online instead of canceling. Having the flexibility to attend class remotely is an appealing benefit of blended learning to convey to stakeholders. It is also important to treat your online or blended students as you treat on-campus students. “You’re still selling the school, its culture and flavor, and the school’s programs, even if it’s at a distance; that has to be something that you take into consideration,” said Simmons’ Palson. You don’t need full commitment at the beginning, but you should have at least one champion among faculty from the start.
3. Understand your budget and time frame. Unfortunately, people want to provide more than might be possible. Be careful throughout the buy-in process to guide stakeholder expectations toward what is possible for your team. At Simmons, they did a lot to coach the student behavior to fit what they can support. “Our students don’t do things at 2 AM with high risks because we won’t be there,” says Palson.
4. Ensure that there is a strong support infrastructure in place. A popular sentiment among the panelists was to hire students to help other students and faculty during a course. Providing access to a support line and an academic technology center can also be a significant boon. “The only way you’ll be scalable and able to grow is to make sure that faculty are creating content on their own,” said Palson. This requires exceptional technology and support “so you’re not constantly trying to put fires out.”