Today we hear from Peter Smith, Founding President, Open College @ Kaplan University and chair of the WCET Executive Council. Thank you Peter for your insights today and the leadership you provide your Cooperative.
It is a tremendous honor to have the opportunity to serve as the Chair of the WCET Executive Committee, especially as the “Abbiatti Era” dawns at WCET. Once again, WCET has identified the right leader at the right time to address the challenges and opportunities that we and our members face in the educational technology space.
As those of you who have worked with Mike know, he moves quickly and surely to define objectives and create clarity of direction and purpose. Since he arrived, Mike has worked with the staff, members of the Steering Committee and the Executive Council, to list, prioritize, and select a limited number of three strategic focus areas for WCET. They represent, I believe, appropriately diverse levels and types of activity that are at one and the same time aggressive, important, and achievable.
There are three areas which have been identified for strategic focus, each distinct from the other two, but all intertwined in an organizational DNA that will prove extremely valuable. Historically, WCET is a membership organization which focuses on best and emerging practices in the use of technology in Higher Education at the institutional level. This will continue to be the organizing vision and purpose of WCET: to serve the practice-related needs of our institutional and other members in the use of technology. In my opinion, no one does it better than we do. But by choosing it as an explicit strategic focus area, it will drive a more operational focus, and hence improvement, going forward.
At the same time, we all know and understand that the policy arena in higher education will be significantly occupied by technology-oriented issues as well as the disruptive consequences of big data, abundant information, and new technological capacities emerging every day. Therefore, it makes all the sense in the world that WCET should lead the analysis of policy that impacts technology-enhanced teaching and learning. This year, it will undoubtedly involve the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. But as we have seen from other initiatives, such as PAR and SARA, the policy conversations of the future will be as diverse as they are, in some cases, unanticipated.
Finally, when you consider the sum total of these first two priorities, it suggests that WCET’s third area of strategic focus should be advocacy, guiding proposed regulations and policies so that they result in practices that benefit students while also balancing the needs of institutions and governments. While we can and should engage in joint advocacy with other groups, and there will be, and should be, other voices in this discussion, WCET’s membership base, focus on practice, and history in the advocacy field position us well to be a major national and global voice.
I look forward to an exciting and productive year working with Mike, his extraordinary team, the Executive and Steering Committee members and all the members who make WCET the vital and important organization that it has become. We are standing at a crossroads in higher education. The leadership opportunity in practice, policy and advocacy in and for technology –related issues has never been bigger or more important. Working together, we can seize the future.