Tony Bates on strategic planning in e-learning

Tony Bates - How useful is strategic planning for e-learning?

Tony Bates is working on a book on integrating technology in post-secondary educational institutions with Albert Sangra. Late last week Tony posted a few key learnings from the first chapter, this stuck out to us:

Fourth, for successful technology integration, an institutional strategy must be fully supported by all members of the executive team, and that support needs to be continued over a considerable period, including changes in executive teams.  Some of the most successful institutions in integrating technology had consistent strategies and key people in senior administration in place for many years. Other less successful institutions in the case studies often suffered from a lack of shared vision at the executive level, or continual changes in directions or key personnel.


Unfortunately, we found little evidence of this level of thinking in most of the case studies, the emphasis instead being on improving ‘business as usual.'

There's a piece implicit in this argument which we've talked about before: a big part of the buy-in that comes from today's senior leadership comes in having a better-than-baseline understanding of how technology will help align daily knowledge work with strategic goals. As one commenter put it in Tony's post, "I find it interesting how few institutions include educational technology in their strategic thinking or, indeed, how changing patterns of knowledge distribution will effect their role as knowledge custodians."


To be clear, we're talking about two different things here. The first is technology that supports the people and process structure across the organization. The second is the technology that integrates the learning environment and brings educators and students together. In reading Tony's points -- and based on our experience -- there is an obvious and strategic parallel between the two; learning and administrative systems serve the same purpose: to bring learners together, in class or in the conference room. We do well when we consider how our systems are serving strategic goals in that light and align executive expectations accordingly.

Tony's post is worth checking out in full this fine morning.