Sarah "Intellagirl" Smith-Robbins, Senior Director of Emerging Technologies, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University
Roger Henry, Instructional Technology Consultant, Indiana University
Roger and a Back Story
Roger is, first of all, awesome. He started his presentation by trying to figure out what kinds of support people at IU would need to adopt OnCourse, which is what Sakai is called at IU. He met with faculty, administrators, deans, and staff to try to find strategies for encouraging adoption; and he also reached out to Kelley Executives affiliated with IU's Kelley School of Business. He explained that he presented some of his ideas about the results of this at last year's Sakai Conference in Paris.
Also, Roger added that there's more backstory to last year's Sakai presentation in Paris--he was trapped there for three weeks.
"But don't worry," he added, "I consoled myself."
Sarah's Presentation: The difference between higher ed and executive ed
First of all, Sarah is awesome. She points out key aspects that differentiate traditional higher ed from executive education. Here are her key points about the differences:
- The "students" are different (for one thing, they don't want to be called "students").
- The learning goals are different. in a traditional classroom, the instructor defines the learning goals; in executive education, students come to the program with needs.
- The courses are different. The topics are usually very narrow and specialized to a specific business issue. They also bring their own culture, instead of integrating into the IU culture that's already established.
- The expectations for Return on Investment (ROI) are different. If you have students who are working adults and paying for their own education, they have different expectations than the typical undergrads. In executive education, the transaction is linked to economic value. "I think we're going to see more of this kind of expectation among students, as well," she added. "We're already seeing students push bak and say 'This isn't directly related to the job I want, so I'm not going to take it.'"
- Exec ed clients aren't students in the university system.
- Most companies are looking for online learning solutions and have failed. (Sarah explains: People find software, then try to solve a problem instead of identifying the problem first and finding software to solve it.)
- Exec Ed courses are short and constructed on short notice.
- University faculty aren't typically able to build unique settings for Exec Ed
OnCourse: The Solution
- Supported by a large university system
- Available globally 24/7 (and also scalable)
- Familiar to faculty
- Flexible enough to accommodate a range of learning experiences
One significant shift, Sarah said, was offering a new kind of learning experience. Typical corporate approaches align with the "death by PowerPoint" approach--everybody sits in a room while somebody talks at them and everybody just tries to get through the day.
"So the first question people ask," she said, "Is 'Can I upload my PowerPoints to it?'"
This is one of the key issues they address on a regular basis.
Sarah tosses up Here Comes Everybody and I swoon with joy. Seriously, you guys, read this book.
"Promise Tool Bargain," she says. At which point I link you to every blogpost I've written on exactly this framework.
Sarah points out the promise of OnCourse, and Roger stands up to talk about the tool. He is, he explains, a choral conductor by training, and his research focuses on how the tools we use shape our practice.
"Most of the problems I hear at IU," he said, "are tied to using the tool."
A lot of questions, he said, are also about what will happen when things go wrong.
He points out that a big part of offering the tool is linked to ensuring people that when problems arise, they will be resolved as quickly as possible (and gives the example of a flurry of emails that went out last night at 11:30 about a problem somebody was having; it was solved by the morning).
Another key, Roger said, is managing expectations: "We're not selling a perfect tool." It will break, it will slow down, it will go down for maintenance, and the key is to be as responsive and communicative about these things as possible.
Sarah speaks to the bargain: "Faculty have to engage with learning the tool in a new learning paradigm. They can't use a lecture format and expect it to be as good as or better than a classroom.
"Using a tool that is so transparently requiring participation can cause some issues with the expectations, both of faculty and exec ed students."
Another part of the bargain, she said, is being honest about the weaknesses and problems with the tool as well.
Sarah said she uses the "promise, tool, bargain" paradigm to approach faculty issues.
Example: When faculty says "my students are not participating" Sarah asks where did the bargain break down.
Did you not promise they would be evaluated on their participation? Are you giving them lame questions? Are you using the wrong tool to facilitate the discussion? Have you explained to them the requirements and the energy required to put in in order to get a good conversation out of it?
Another example: If a CEO says he talked to someone on the phone and got an unprofessional interaction, she asks: Did we promise to offer professionalism at all times?
Of course I'm thrilled to hear Clay Shirky mentioned--and, especially, the "promise, tool, bargain" paradigm that I love so well. Though Sarah and Roger pointed to the value of this framework for engaging executive clients, this approach has tons of potential for bringing people in to the open education movement that Vijay Kumar pointed to in his opening keynote this morning.