This month in EDUCAUSE: Communities of practice, transform teaching and learning with digital learning, workforce shakeup, and more

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My name is Irene Knokh and I’m the EDUCAUSE ambassador for U-M. I share articles of interest, upcoming trends, and advocate on your behalf for EDUCAUSE.

Welcome back to Fall 2022. It has been an intense summer and the newsletter took a hiatus for a couple of months! There’s a lot to share with you in the newsletter. 

30 higher education IT influencers to follow in 2022 | EdTech Magazine

Check out the influences in teaching and learning, instructional technology, and IT (all connected)! Take a look at the profiles (some may be familiar to you), and look at the resources linked on the site.

The State of Michigan is an influencer! Our own Tazin Daniels of CRLT and Michigan State’s CIO Melissa Woo are also on the list!

Do you know an influencer who is not listed? Someone in your group? Perhaps YOU? Your team? Drop me a line and I’ll include a few words about your work in the next edition of the article. 

Democratizing digital transformation with communities of practice | EDUCAUSE

Communities of Practice, enhance and push digital transformation forward-if there’s support by management and leadership. Healthy communities of practice encourage learning, problem solving, sharing information, and working together for a solution. Constrained communities of practice are not particularly healthy-there is no defined purpose, necessarily, and they are fully “mandated” from the top. 

The biggest challenges are silos and lack of support by managers -”it is not part of your role and it’s distracting from your work” approach. Such thinking limits learning, sharing, and innovation. Read about the characteristics of viable communities of practice. These are truly essential in helping staff grow, develop, find better solutions to various issues, and learn how to lead. 

Michigan IT currently has 27 communities of practice – check them out! The more brains and varied professional experiences, the better. You can also refer to the monthly activities of Michigan IT Governance and Communities of Practice.

EDUCAUSE QuickPoll results: Transforming teaching and learning with a digital learning strategy | EDUCAUSE

Review the definition of Digital Learning Strategy (DLS), and the current challenges. In some institutions, there is no awareness of either what is DLS or the progress. Several themes came up in the results. Full graphs are included in the article:  

  • Across campus development and workforce support, technology support, and better digital learning opportunities, including Open Educational Resources (OER)
  • Streamline IT processes  
  • Shared digital learning vision (students, faculty, and staff, senior leaders)
  • Personalized support for students-including earlier connection with faculty and staff for better preparation 
  • Resources (digital and physical) for everyone 
  • Automation of processes
  • Badging, micro-credentialing, adaptive learning, workforce preparedness for students 
  • Online and hybrid models of learning 
  • DEI and cultural awareness in learning and teaching 

On that note, take a look at the Digital Learning Design Framework and Toolkit Teesside University and Jisc UK have developed for their faculty and staff. The emphasis is on developing viable and thoughtful online courses instead of transferring a face-to-face class into an online option. 

A face-to-face approach to the online learning space | EDUCAUSE

Read about Texas State’s work in Teaching Space of Tomorrow (TSOT), starting 2018 and  ongoing through the pandemic. It’s an Instructor-In-Residence program to enhance learning experience, including the increase in the quality of online instruction and student to faculty interaction. The blend of faculty office and teaching studio with specific multiple screens is scalable (at $15,000), and requires tight collaboration with the teaching and technology staff. There is an ongoing improvement, from camera gaze to looking at class chat. Students were pleased with the results of the pilot (high-quality, online presentation, real time feedback from the professor). Presentation quality is critical, and it can be done. 

7 ways the pandemic changed faculty development | EDUCAUSE

The challenge was transition from mostly in person offerings to online, and, later, blended options. The authors offer seven changes since the pandemic. These are relevant to everyone engaged in education, regardless if staff, faculty, or students. The challenge is to integrate “lessons learned” while dealing with burn out. 

  • Perspective Shifts: Recognizing the value learning designers and technologists bring to the table. Under extremely tight deadlines, they continuously “upskill” faculty in an online environment, showing empathy, and delivering the courses to students. 
  • Different modalities for delivering faculty professional development sessions: There are options for synchronous and asynchronous sessions. Simultaneous in-person and online participation options require diligent planning and will help address the variety of logistical concerns. Given tight deadlines, especially with the pandemic, many schools weaved microcredentials “just-in-time learning” to address faculty needs. 
  • Accessibility and inclusivity: Online sessions open doors for more participants and allow for captioning of videos, addition of transcripts, and “on demand” viewing. Faculty didn’t need to disclose personal circumstances. 
  • Content and Delivery: Everything from content delivery, creating efficient learning management system (LMS) templates for rapid course building, ongoing technical training for faculty and staff, sharing  and collaboration, and active learning best practices. 
  • Iterative rapid feedback: Ongoing improvement of courses based on feedback from participants because courses were being developed within a few days to a few hours. 
  • Resource sharing with interdisciplinary faculty and various institutions.  
  • Empathy and mental health: Acknowledging that staff is NOT expandable: “Faculty support staff recognized very quickly that they were susceptible to overwork and burnout at the beginning of the pandemic, just like faculty and students. Over the past two years, we realized that we need to shift our thinking about productivity and acknowledge the reality that we are living in a time when many people’s lives are consumed with a wide variety of stressors and that the pace at which many of us were working at the onset of the pandemic is not sustainable.”

Workforce is critical to institutions. Check out the articles below. 

Evolve or Become Extinct Showcase

Higher education doesn’t run by itself; it’s teamwork. Structure, culture, and inclusive intersections are critical to an institution’s existence. Giving best service to students means supporting your faculty and your staff. 

EDUCAUSE QuickPoll results: The workforce shakeup | EDUCAUSE

Reasons for leaving or staying are complex; usually, these are a mix of “being stuck in the middle” as a manager (doing the work minus C-Suite perks), or a mid-career employee with no real support for professional growth. Add to that the almost static salary growth, and it’s a mix for leaving. Or is it?

For many employees, though, staying is not only about salary. It’s the culture and functioning of the institution, department, meaningful work, relationship with colleagues, and mission. 

If a job is a means to living outside of “5-day, 9 to 5, cubicles,” then employees may still stay, even if there are less desirable aspects of the work environment. Once, however, there’s a conflict between personal needs and what’s available outside the institution, given an opportunity, staff will leave for better options. Staff with less than ten years of tenure are the most likely to leave, if the values and personal or professional needs do not align. 

There is no simple remedy. It’s a combination of flexibility, support, opportunities for growth, for everyone, including “middle management,” and autonomy. 

Where do you start? Take a look at the EDUCAUSE Professional Pathways toolkits for several areas. Does your departmental leadership even ask about a five-year plan? Is it a realistic one? Pathways may be defined differently at every institution.  Definitely worth a look–especially  if you are a formal or an informal mentor. Copy and download the toolkits to see how you can tailor them for yourself. I’d love to hear what you think of this site.  

EDUCAUSE QuickPoll results: Senior technology leaders’ impressions of DEI efforts  

Compare the responses between senior leaders and “others,” including middle managers and regular non leadership staff. What are your thoughts? 

Thank you, and “see you” next month! 


If you have any questions about the content, tidbits you’d like to share, or anything EDUCAUSE related, email Irene Knokh, instructional design and technology consultant, Professional Development and Education for Nursing, or Chris Eagle, EDUCAUSE coordinator for U-M.