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Wednesday, July 03, 2019

A Strategic Leader for Student Success: An Argument for the Chief Academic Technology Officer | EDUCAUSE Review

Academic technology developments, which offer potential solutions to improving student success, demand an institutional academic technology strategy led by the Chief Academic Technology Officer (CATO).

Photo: Helen Chu
Photo: Bill Hogue
Academic technology is changing

Instruction is becoming more of a team sport: instructional faculty want support from professionals who are fully versed in technology, video production, disciplinary content, and the evidence-based pedagogical practices documented in the scholarship of teaching and learning. Active learning classrooms and faculty development efforts can help increase passing grades, learning, comprehension, and content retention for all students—and disproportionately so for students from underrepresented groups.1 The explosion of new academic technology facilities (e.g., innovation labs, makerspaces, data-visualization labs, and studio classrooms with learning glass or light boards), as well as third-party services (e.g., educational video-streaming services, applications that can be integrated into the LMS, and systems that offer API access to data), demand the oversight and management of knowledgeable academic technology staff.

These changes in academic technology are potential solutions to improving student success. Data analytics, early warning, intervention, and advising systems promise to ameliorate DFW (D/F/Withdrawal) rates and attrition. Course planning software for administrators and for students can help identify and resolve course sequencing or scheduling issues, shorten curricular pathways, and increase access to gateway courses—all of which should contribute to improved time-to-degree and graduation rates. The fusion of data management, data visualization, research computing, and digital scholarship with digital pedagogy prepares students intellectually, technologically, and practically. Offering hands-on experience in cutting-edge technology could be the differentiating factor in post-graduation job searches.
At many institutions, the evolution of online education—from adult education to MOOCs to hybrid and exclusively online mainstream degree programs—brings together the work of extension and distance education units with courses for matriculated students...

The goal of creating the CATO position—and defining a career path for academic technology professionals—is about developing a structural framework for deep collaborations among academic campus partners to support the strategic role of academic technology in the research and instructional mission.

Source: EDUCAUSE Review