Adventures in Online Program Management (A.M.A.)

Educational Technology, Pedagogy

Rob has invited me to write a guest post as an ‘Ask me Anything’ learning experience for students in his current program. I’m honored to be able to participate! If you’d like to know more about my background, feel free to visit my LinkedIn profile or my Portfolio.

Online program management can definitely be an adventure. Sometimes I show up at work and ask myself which law we’re going to break today. There are so many rules and requirements from competing stakeholders, that it’s nearly impossible to run an online course or program without breaking some of them. Much of my work involves negotiating political minefields and treading lightly around fragile egos.  I love my job!

I’ll share a brief story about something that happened just yesterday, and then feel free to use the comments section of this post to Ask me Anything. Often with online programs, we count on third party partnerships. We currently use a state consortium model for shared online courses between the 34 community and technical colleges in Washington. One of the options in this consortium is for our college to pay an instructor to teach a system owned shared course where students from other colleges can enroll. We pay the instructor, and our college collects instruction fees from colleges where participating students are enrolled.

Currently we have it set up so those instructors report directly to me. Yesterday one of the instructors sent me the following email (summarized):

A student who is enrolled in this class has not taken part in the class all quarter. The only assignment I’ve received is posted under Exam 4 where the student submitted an x-rated photo of one of their body parts.

Adventure time!  To resolve this issue, I had to take into consideration everything from student discipline to concern for a safe environment for instructors. The instructor is remote. I don’t have access to the course because it is hosted by the consortium. The student is enrolled at another institution. It took many sensitive communications to get the system rolling to take care of this situation.

Feel free to leave comments and questions and Ask me Anything about my adventures in Online Program Management.


IPT Seminar Oct 30th: Doug Christensen

IPT Seminar

This post is connected with IPT 690, a graduate seminar course in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University.

For seminar this week, we heard from Doug Christensen, who was a manager for many years in facilities maintenance at BYU.  Doug started out by giving us a lesson on silos.  How they function, what they are used for, and why they are still economical today.  This of course transitioned into a discussion of silos in our design and management processes.  Doug was a proponent of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) which is a holistic approach to construction and facilities maintenance.  In this model, silos are eliminated to make the cost of ownership transparent to the stakeholders.  In a traditional model, costs are often short-sighted.  In budgeting a construction project, the stakeholders often only think about construction costs (one of the silos).  What TCO aims to do is to get the stake holders to consider the total cost of owning something over the lifetime of the object.

Now I will have to say that much of the terminology of Doug’s seminar was much different from the world in which I inhabit, but I do think it is applicable to the world of instructional design.  While I am not experienced in being an instructional designer, what I think Doug is advocating is taking a holistic approach to the design process.  We shouldn’t only think about how our individual silo of design is to be implemented, but we should think about the sustainability of the system as a whole.  How will the implementation of this design impact the construction of future designs.

Overall, I loved that Doug really didn’t understand his audience — I think that he really didn’t have a lot of understanding regarding what instructional designers do.  Because his talk wasn’t specifically directed to our context, it forced us as audience members to create those transpositions, and I think I learned some great lessons from that experience.