Skip to main content

An Emphasis on Education Development

Posted by on Thursday, September 6, 2018 in News.

As of last month, Provost Wente asked me to take on some additional duties as she reorganized her support staff. My original title in the Provost’s office was “Associate Provost for Digital Learning.”  My title going forward is “Associate Provost for Education Development and Technologies.”  As you may recall, the original title matched one of the four pillars of the University’s Academic Strategic Plan. What I want to emphasize in reflecting on this change in title is not that I have moved away from that portion of the strategic plan, but that the change in title reflects an organic broadening of the meaning of “Digital Learning.”

When I first took the position, Vanderbilt was moving in the direction of MOOCs, so my position was, in part, an exploration of that space. However, a number of changes have taken place.  First, we’ve seen a decline in the excitement around MOOCS (although Vanderbilt continues to work toward the goal of launching a MOOC from each of our ten colleges and schools). Instead, we have moved toward producing a number of higher priced specializations and experiments in other programs with smaller audiences. Secondly, my attention has turned far more inward to our own residential students. With the experiments in bringing the Adobe Creative Suite to our students and the white paperon Digital Literacy, we are rethinking the integration of digital tools in a holistic manner across the curriculum. Finally, we discovered over the last three years that my role (and that of anyone interested in this area) is always focused on educational development because there are so many new ideas and technologies consistently being produced.

I also want to point out that my new title parallels that of newly appointed Associate Provost for Research Development and Technologies Doug Schmidt. The alignment of these two titles is significant and emphasizes synergistic growth on campus.  Doug has been a wonderful partner with whom to work on digital technology. As a quick-thinking and innovative advocate for the use of technology in both research and education, Doug consistently crosses paths with me. Because Doug’s true interests lay more in the use of technology in research and mine in education, our parallel positions will allow us to separately and together work toward transforming the culture of education and research (two of the primary missions of our faculty) at Vanderbilt. We of course do not do this alone, but with the entire faculty, staff and student body. That said, I appreciate the way Provost Wente has attempted to align our titles and duties with the direction that our work was taking us.

In short, we have moved more and more into innovative or developmental thinking in our embrace of technologies, regardless of the focus of their use.  I look forward to a long and successful partnership with Doug’s office as we continue to push the university in interesting directions.