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Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Provosts, Pedagogy, and Digital Learning | EDUCAUSE Review - Editors' Picks

Panel members from an EDUCAUSE 2017 Annual Conference session offer insights about the role of provosts and chief academic officers in digital courseware deployment and the challenges of using technology to advance teaching, learning, and student success.

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Editors' Picks
Stories you won’t want to miss. Selected by the EDUCAUSE Review Editors.

Photo: EDUCAUSE Review
Higher education provosts and chief academic officers (CAOs) have come of age, personally and professionally, with the technologies that are now ubiquitous on campus and in the consumer market. However, considerable survey data and numerous conversations suggest that many provosts and CAOs remain skeptical about the potential or claimed benefits of information technology as a resource for teaching, learning, and instruction. They are also concerned about the significant investments that institutions make to support information technology for those purposes.1

At the EDUCAUSE 2017 Annual Conference, Kenneth C. (Casey) Green moderated a panel discussion with two of the CAOs involved in the Association of Chief Academic Officers (ACAO) Digital Fellows Program and with the principal investigator on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation grant that created the year-long program. In this session, the three panel members offered their perspectives on campus IT investments, including what the panelists see as working—and what they see as missing—in instructional technology portfolios today. 

The Panelists 
Casey Green: 
Let's begin with quick introductions from each of you, including a brief description of your institution and the CAO/provost's role within it.

Charles Cook: 
Austin Community College is in Austin, Texas. We have a surface area of five counties—geographically about the size of Connecticut. We have 11 (soon to be 12) campuses, including a shopping mall, which we bought and are converting into the Highland campus, which houses the ACCelerator, a huge lab offering students personalized and adaptive learning opportunities with instructional and coaching support in a number of disciplines. We have about 40,000 credit students and 10,000–12,000 continuing and adult education students—with about 52% white, 34% Hispanic, 7–8% African-American, and 5% Asian.

As the CAO, I try to be the connector. Since the college is geographically spread out, we try to have common communication across the campuses, and across programs, to ensure that we have good quality and good consistency in what we're offering our students. Both student services and academic instruction report to me, so that makes connecting a little easier.

Patricia L. Rogers:  
Winona State University, established in 1858, is the oldest normal school, or teachers' college, west of the Mississippi. We also have a branch campus in Rochester, Minnesota, and that campus is 100 years old this year. We have approximately 8,100 students, 340 full-time faculty, and 185 part-time faculty. We have about 13% students of color, a number that is rising and that is rather unusual for a small school in southern Minnesota. We offer a range of programs, with nursing and health sciences being our leaders due to our proximity to the Mayo and Gundersen Clinics.

The role of the provost is to stay out of everyone's way. Because I'm a good Minnesotan, I sit in the stern of the canoe and help power things. I put the smart people out front and have them lead the show.

Laura Niesen de Abruna: 
York College, a private institution founded in 1787, has gone through many iterations. Right now, it has 5,000 students—undergraduate and graduate.

As the provost, I'm the chief academic officer, but I'm also in charge of institutional effectiveness, strategic planning, institutional research, and all technology and instructional design. I wrote and oversee the grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help CAOs across the United States understand how to deploy digital courseware.


Source: EDUCAUSE Review