FacultyEnlight

HIGHER ED ADMINISTRATORS GET EXPERIMENTAL

When it comes to technology assistance, progressive teaching, or just being aware of new tools that can help both students and instructors succeed, your best tool can often be helpful administrators. But what can be done when overwhelmed staff in administration positions aren’t aware of the most modern technologies—or don’t have time to devote to your cause? Dealing with administrators who don’t understand your view can feel like an impossible barrier, but an interesting new higher education trend could help turn your frustrations into positive action.

New positions for administrators with backgrounds in technology, innovation, and learning advancement may soon be coming to a school near you. Several institutions have already started hiring for these positions under such names as “Interim Associate Provost of Education Innovation and Technology” (University of Houston) or “Vice Provost of Advances in Learning” (Harvard University). A few schools are even doing a relative overhaul of academic affairs in an effort to restructure academic affairs and prioritize digital learning and innovation. So what are these positions meant to do, exactly?

Most of these 21st century openings are experimental permanent or interim positions, but all of them are meant to further the world of higher education by encouraging and concentrating on technology in digital advancement. Instead of constantly playing tech catch-up or making guesses about buying the latest course management software, schools are hiring tech and innovation specialists who can devote themselves full time to improving scholarly environments. From small colleges to the most recognized institutions in the world, many schools are realizing they must transform their methods of teaching and learning by being proactive: They are researching and establishing teaching technologies and innovative learning systems now, not later.

Many administrators in these new positions will be developing schools’ roles in online education and remote learning. Harvard University Provost Alan Garber, who announced one of the institution’s new positions, explained that with the launch of edX and HarvardX, “…it has become clear that the University’s work in these areas have reached a level that warrants dedicated academic leadership.”  It’s true; as more companies realize the potential for higher ed technologies and innovative advancement, the more necessary it becomes to have specialists who can research, seek out, and put into action the tools that will truly enhance learning for future generations.