Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Design Thinking and Shared Governance
With only one recent exception involving OER, all innovations at my college has come from those who CAN afford to "fail fast": the tenured faculty. I would add to that list the people responsible for major innovations in teaching my subject: they are all tenured professors, that is, senior enough to be past their second promotion. That is, older than you, Dean Reed. One took on a huge task to reform a math course within a few years of retirement, and made it happen.
The one excecption is a person who was confident and bold enough to just adopt an OER text before everyone else teaching a course and build it into our LMS without talking to anyone else, assuming his way was the right way. I did something similar, but didn't do it until the year I was going up for tenure when the time demands wouldn't appreciably affect my case. Since then I continue to innovate, and others do the same. And nothing the faculty Senate does affects that. I'll address that in a separate message.
I can't read that article through their pay wall, but the context is clear. I don't believe that Stanford is talking about emulating Silicon Valley for their entire incoming class of medical students. It is one thing to get a really wealthy person to toss a huge pile of money at an innovative project where the two choices are bankruptcy (most of the time) and profit (sometimes). That is the "Underpants Gnomes" approach, but you can't do that with students.
With students, any educational innovation has to be tried with a small group (with a backup plan if it fails really fast) and scaled up to see if it works with more than one instructor before going all in. At my college, none of that requires action by the faculty senate or the union. Our contract and our policies give a great deal of autonomy to faculty. We aren't run like a high school.
Changes that can only be done on a large scale, like advising or the LMS or parking or outsourcing, are initiated by administration so that is where you need to preach to folks like yourself rather than the faculty. (The President, conspicuously missing from your list, is where you need to manage up if that academic administration wants to get the Trustees to buy in.) The faculty only need to be approached honestly, stating the failures of the current college program and the objective of the new one. Even then, our LMS adoption and change was done by bringing in an alternative that was open for testing for a semester before final discussions were held regarding adoption and transition. The Trustees merely did what the VP told the President to tell them to do.
On our time scale, "fail fast" means try it for a semester, although with the LMS we only had to try it for a week or two.