“The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated,” Mark Twain
Escaping the Program Equality Quagmire
Academic programs, and the courses that deliver their content, are not of equal importance. The implications of this came home to me recently when, in a webinar on academic resourcing, a participant objected that provosts and deans should not “put their thumbs on the scale” by considering program importance when deciding admission targets and departmental budgets. “All programs and courses are of equal importance,” the participant asserted. “Providing their quality is good, all should have equal access to funding.”
It’s Time for a Revolution in Academic Resourcing
This new academic year is unlike any other. Colleges and universities are coping with nasty deficits and cash flow problems, but the probable long-term disruptions are even more worrisome. Never in my half-century of close involvement with academic resourcing have I seen such threats to the operating and financial sustainability of so many institutions. As Charles Dickens said, it is the worst of times.
With the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the country, and the world, many colleges and universities are closed and moving their courses online. If you are new to online teaching, this may seem terribly daunting. Having incorporated a variety of technologies into my teaching over the years, I am glad to share a few perspectives and tips. I will guide you through the process of transitioning your course online and provide steps for staying sane. I hope this information helps make your transition online a bit more manageable.
1. Assess Your Tech
Start by assessing what technology you have and what you will need. Here is a list of the basics:
Video Camera. Do you have a video camera on your laptop? On your phone? A webcam on your desktop? If you have a good camera on your phone, a simple phone tripod may be the best $20 in instructional technology that you will ever spend.
Recently I revisited last summer’s joint statement by AIR, EDUCAUSE, and NACUBO entitled, “Analytics Can Save Higher Education. Really.” It’s something all of us analytically-minded higher education people can and should get behind. I’m thrilled that these three organizations have made analytics a priority, and that they are working to spread the information and knowhow that will spur adoption.
Reading the statement reminded me of the tools we had to rely on before the development of today’s academic resourcing models that I've been writing about in these blogs. The improvements are relevant for achieving the benefits described in the joint statement referenced above as well as my own Reengineering the University and forthcoming Resource Management for Colleges and Universities. I'd like to share some of my experience in the early days of higher education analytics to show just how big a change the current models portend, and why that change is so important.
The Emerging Program Pool: What You Need to Know Before Jumping In
If you saw our recent webinar, 5 Emerging Programs for 2020, you know we have been thinking a lot about emerging programs. As a strategy consulting firm that focuses entirely on higher education, it is our duty to help our clients see what is coming. And we promise to share this crucial information here. We want you to have the latest information on the markets and margins for academic programs, so you can make the best program decisions for your school and mission.
I’ve been writing a lot here about how modern analytics can help a college or university make better academic program portfolio decisions. For example, which programs, if any, should be expanded, downsized, or eliminated. These are mission-critical because it is through degree and other formally organized programs that institutions present their teaching prowess to the marketplace. Faculty usually focus on individual courses, but students look at programs when they decide which school to attend and what they say about it to their parents and peers. Thinking about program portfolios holistically helps schools compete in the marketplace, serve students better, and manage course availabilities and staffing more effectively. These matters fall squarely into the wheelhouse of both academic and financial officers.
It should come as no surprise that margin, the difference between cost and revenue, emerged in blogs 1 and 2 as a key variable in the economics of teaching. What may be less obvious is that faculty and academic administrators need to take margin seriously. Conventional wisdom says that academics should focus on mission and its associated teaching and scholarly priorities while leaving the management of margin—and by extension the use of models that measure margin—to the institution's accounting and financial people. This blog describes why the conventional wisdom is wrong: why effective academic resource management requires mission and margin to be considered together, and why this is best done by the academic side of the house.
My first blog (October 2019) described how academic resourcing models allow institutional leaders and faculty to reshape their institutions through better resource management. This one takes a deeper dive into the new breed of inter