No one needs reminding that we are in the year 2020, yet we continue to offer higher education in virtually the same manner as we have for millennia. Should we really continue to argue that this is the superior teaching and learning method? What if, instead, we acknowledge that online education is here to stay–and that the charge for higher education professionals is to ensure that this method of instructional delivery is at least equal to traditional face-to-face instruction?

Here are the top five things colleges and universities can do to make online education more effective—and valuable—today, tomorrow, and into the future.

1 . Recruit a champion

Every institution that wants robust, effective online education programs should recruit an online “tzar” who oversees all aspects of their distance learning initiatives: curriculum, student experiences, faculty hiring/onboarding; faculty development; and learning management systems, to name just a few.

Related content: Why online learning is here to stay

This position should be a member of the executive leadership team/president’s council and have the latitude (and funding) to run these divisions with fearless initiative. In the wake of the pandemic, these positions are emerging, and what is shocking is that they are usually location-bound. How can these visionaries fully demonstrate the efficacy, flexibility, and leadership of online education initiatives if they are required to do so from a campus office? Have the courage and the faith for your online champion to model best practices of leading, teaching, and managing from a virtual driver’s seat.

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About the Author:

Dr. Caroline Gulbrandsen is the Dean of Faculty for Graduate Studies as well as the Academic Dean at the Rockford Campus at Rasmussen College, where she has worked with faculty and students in multiple online platforms for over a decade. She has also been teaching online for twenty-one years, spanning from grade nine to doctoral courses. Her philosophy about “distance education” is that good teaching is good teaching, regardless of where or how it happens.


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