When I was hired as an eLearning Manager at a medical nonprofit early 2012 I had no idea what was in store for me. During the interview process it became clear that there was very little eLearning happening, but they had recently purchased a Learning Management System (LMS). If it had been five years ago I probably would have already been out the door, but the carte blanche was exciting to me. In order to demonstrate the value of the LMS quickly I began by re-purposing recent recordings of webinars that were being completely underutilized; a few edits with the video/audio editing tool Camtasia, and soon we had 3 quality content eLearning modules ready to launch as a free benefit to our 40,000 members. Marketing assisted with the development and promotion, and we decided to charge non-members to entice people to join and add ROI.
The newly launched 3 eLearning courses were a great way to show departments of my organization the capabilities of the LMS and the benefit eLearning can bring to education by reaching the unreachable. I was soon being invited to meetings by directors of various departments looking to me to consult on what they could take online. The early adopters had high expectations and were excited to be the one of the first to use the technology. My biggest challenges were actually all things I had little control over: database issues and no internal tech support. These challenges although not my doing or the LMS were viewed as “problems” with the eLearning, and the uniformed whispering led to skepticism by others considering adopting the launch of their education online.
Building relationships with IT staff and quality technological infrastructure for the LMS is still a daily challenge for me. It’s a large part of my position to bridge this gap in order to create a successful, high quality eLearning experience for our users as well as meet the strategic goals of our departments. I’ve recently been able to hire more staff for my team to help with not only the development of eLearning, but to manage the crucial support my programs require to be sustainable. I’m excited about where I’ve taken, and will be taking my organization moving forward. I’ve gone from a Lone Ranger to by next month leading an eLearning team of 5 staff, including a dedicated eLearning technology support staff.
I enjoyed reading the Educause article on bring-your-own-everything (BYOE) as I am seeing this more in my place of business, and certainly in this University of Illinois course where we all access Moodle from personal PCs, tablets, and smartphones. My biggest lesson learned is that students and staff will continue to increasingly bring their own devices to campuses and the organizations they work for—it is here to stay—our organizations and institutions must adapt to us. IT leaders at organizations and institutions are challenged to react quickly to employees/students assumption that their BYOE will work seamlessly with the infrastructure already in place. This is a dramatic shift from IT typically planning the technological infrastructure for organizations/institutions and the user must conform. (Pirani 2013).
If I were an IT/online learning director and had to establish two budget priorities for 2014 it would be to better support the BYOE phenomenon by adopting a cloud storage data solution for personal use for all students/employees. The leveraging of cloud storage is also being seen in many top U.S. campuses. The University of Virginia recently began providing its students with 50GB of free cloud storage. Cornell, Yale, and Notre Dame have also begun offering cloud storage solutions for their students. As students shift regularly from PC, tablet, and smartphone this provides one location for accessing their data from any of their devices. Cloud storage also reduces the cost of the student to purchase additional data storage for their PCs, data sharing and collaboration, in addition to reduced back up times. (Bolkan 2013).
The second priority would be to implement a cloud storage data back up plan for the entire organization/institution. Indiana Wesleyan University recently implemented a cloud solution at its campus, but theirs was to find a better way of backing up its data. The university was consistently having trouble with its back up system as tapes were breaking, would take days to complete, and retrieval of data was tedious and time consuming. They have recently switched to a cloud data back up system which has greatly improved the reliability of their data management needs. (Meyer 2013). It will be important for IT leaders to adapt to our needs by providing cloud storage infrastructure and understanding that one size will not fit all.
Bolkan, Joshua (2013). Retrieved from
Meyer, Layla (2013). Retrieved from http://campustechnology.com/articles/2013/07/16/indiana-wesleyan-university-implements-cloud-storage-solution.aspx
Pirani, J. (2013). Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ERS1301/ECS1304.pdf