Saturday, May 26, 2018

Athabasca University Strategic Plan

The  "Athabasca University Strategic Plan" (March, 2018) is not so much a strategic plan, as an aspirational statement for marketing purposes. AU needs to prepare an actual plan, along the lines of "A Vision for Teaching and Learning at The Australian National University".

The AU Plan says:

"Imagine: Transforming Lives, Transforming Communities

Open, Flexible, and Everywhere

Our families, our jobs, our communities: the most important things in our lives are changing. To prepare for change, to lead it, we are driven to be more open, more flexible, and more adaptable - no matter who we are, how old we are, or where we live."
That is good to aspire to, but how does the university plan to go beyond is current distance education open university model to be "... more open, more flexible, and more adaptable ..."?

It starts to tell us something useful on page 2:
"Athabasca University was North America’s first online university. Its open and flexible environment is built on leveraging technology to enable learning. Athabasca is re-imagining its founding spirit with new investments in digital education. Athabasca University will never stop striving to perfect it."
However, the claim that AU was was "North America’s first online university" is one which may be challenged by other institutions.

AU is an open online distance university, much like University of Southern Queensland in Australia. These institutions have struggled to be accepted as equal to traditional campus based institutions on the one hand and compete with free online education on the other. At the same time they have the same pressures facing conventional universities of meeting increasing community expectations.

ps: The AU document is hard to read, as a PDF download and via the website. At 37 Megabytes the PDF document is ten times larger than it need be and contains tiny text on a landscape format page. The web version is no easier to read, breaking the document up into tiny chunks, making it hard to follow. AU has a Centre for Distance Education with specialists in communicating educational concepts online (some of them were my instructors in the Master of Education in Distance Education). Perhaps AU could consult these experts to help design their planning documents for an online audience.

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