Strategic planning in higher education

Published: 2018-03-27 11:05:06
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Strategic Planning, Change and Online Adjunct Instructor’s Needs in Higher Education

Higher academic institutions worldwide are becoming responsible for their prospective planning. In that case, these higher learning leaders are required to improve their capacity for strategic performance. Strategic planning can follow three important steps; first is analyzing the institutional potential against the alternating market demand. The next step assessing scenarios for development and finally is the process of change to achieve the plans. For a strategic performance to be successful, it has to be spontaneous and appear in the implementation process. Strategic development can be summarized in four ways; systemic approach, evolutionary approach, management of the public and classical approach. There is also need to change from face to face teaching to online teaching. Online education requires technology planning to have a successful outcome. Most institutions of higher education are on the move to develop and expand online learning as part of their strategic plan. Studies have proven that planning with purpose leads to a successful implementation.

Higher education strategic planning

Higher education institutions have been facing a lot of challenges in demands and higher education funding. Most governments are cutting down or reducing funding and direct regulation to such schools. The institutions have been striving to balance the ever increasing external and internal demands with the limited resources they have at hand. Strategic planning could involve many activities including professionalization and e-learning. Initially, systems of higher education were grouped by The Triangle of Coordination which created both academic and economic competition among the schools. Online learning has been one of the most sought after strategic planning by higher education leaders despite earlier differences. To date, numerous universities including residential colleges and universities with a proper lab and lectures are evaluating and adopting online pedagogy and technology in education (Hinton, 2012). The case is, however, not true for all faculties or schools as others find it irrelevant to use technology in their instructions.

Significant enrollments into higher learning institutions have been recorded over the last decade. This means that the number of students has increased to overcome the number of tenure-track instructors available. Due to strategic planning, most higher learning administrators resolved to bring on board adjunct instructors. Adjunct professors are those instructors on contract and cannot handle some duties of full-time professors. These instructors help in teaching given fields of expertise like introductory courses. The adjunct professors have a lower salary compared to that of the full-time professors. The instructors have turned out to be more significant in this era where the ratio of student to professor is almost double. Higher education leaders calculate the salaries and working terms of adjunct instructors. Questions of whether the contingent professors need to tutor in online programs have created a lot of as majority find sense in it. The adjunct professors, however, cannot attend staff events and meetings, publish papers or carry out research (Henard, F. & Roseveare, 2012).

Strategic planning model

A strategic model is a simplified flow chart showing the various steps an idea has to go through to be implemented. The first step is always an analysis of the sought plan. This step calls for institutional changes and demands mapping against the potential of the institution. Higher education leaders then devise long term objectives with strategic actions to achieve the objectives. The process is monitored by external planning experts and advisors. The actions are practiced to develop an evaluation pattern for the formulated strategies.

Faculty administrators and other higher education leaders are responsible for making changes within their institutions. The strategic planning process, however, may deviate unexpectedly due to planning or implementation mistakes such as inappropriate analysis and inapplicable strategies (Hinton, 2012). Much focus is, therefore, placed on the first three steps of the strategic planning process with the total involvement of experts. The process can be summarized as analysis, strategy, change actions, implementation, and evaluation. The role of experts and advisors in strategic planning and success cannot be assumed. Each member of the planning committee is required to fully participate in the whole process to avoid pitfalls in the event of implementation.

Strategic planning disadvantages

The process of strategic planning may end into pitfalls, as stated above, due to various reasons. Research studies carried out have identified seven common landmines in the process of strategic planning. The first obstacle is the difference in goals. For instance, some higher education leaders may think that planning is a one-time activity that ends with outlining and analysis. They tend to go back to other activities and forget their plans. Without timely interventions, the strategic planning process is likely to stumble. There is also a challenge of stagnation. It comes about when a section of the planning committee is enthusiastic about the strategic planning process. It follows that when the results differ with their expectations, they may lose focus and cause a delayed implementation (Hinton, 2012).

The other pitfall is the unavailability of buy-in from vital constituencies. There may also be parallel planning platforms so that some leaders fail to know that another parallel plan may be underway as they commence with the other. In some cases, a change in institutional administration may kill or reduce the implementation momentum. The new leaders may lack the commitment to pursue the plan as their predecessors. Cases of insufficient funding of the committee may also temper with the strategy planning process. Institutions should ensure proper research before coming up with objectives and goals to be achieved. Proper planning sees it that the institutions are in their best state and the right benchmarks can be established as well as improvements in certain areas.

Online education research

The online education system plan is one area that has undergone a series of changes since it was first implemented. Education leaders can find the plan that best defines their institutions and which they can implement. Unfortunately, only a few members of the faculty have an experience of providing online instructions. Studies have also shown that faculty roles change when teaching shifts from face to face to online teaching.  The lack of one on one teaching in online tutoring has created a lot of concerns. For instance, online education has requirements that differ from the one on one teaching method. Teaching online calls for attention and extensive planning in teaching which may not be applicable in classrooms. Faculties through their leaders, therefore, perceive online teaching as an intense labor practice (Picciano, 2015).

Online teaching is mostly a student-centered instruction which is different from the classroom teaching that is teacher centered. Student-centered instructions is a system that calls for planning on the learner’s goals, purpose, and needs while teacher centered instructions give the teacher’s agenda and teaching methods. The challenges show a shift that higher education leaders need to accept so as so as to have a strategic plan in implementing online teaching. Higher education centers have to embrace this change so as to effectively implement the online teaching. Students may also be affected since they are required to explore more under the online learning system (Kogler, Thomas, & Keller, 2009).  For example, students are required to participate in online discussion forums to learn more and be active and ready for online tests.

Online teaching plan

Faculty leaders in higher learning have to make many changes in their current learning systems so as to effectively plan for online teaching. More instructional responsibility is directed to student learning because of the high chance of students getting involved in online education (Sibley & Whitaker, 2015) As a matter of fact, most members of the faculty may become as first-time teachers when it comes to online instructing. Members and leaders of the faculty may consider their expertise in online teaching at apprentice and advanced learner groups which could affect their self-motivation as online teaching expert. Some plans that higher education institutions need to consider may include; acquiring studying educational techniques for tutoring online and developing ideas about learning and teaching.

Change to online education is a significant chance to enact new information on educating and learning and reorganize the previous classroom activities and teacher-student relationships. Faculties should understand that some of the old classroom practices may not apply to online learning. The faculty should reason out some potential ideas that would help them effectively deliver online education.  There may be need to train more professional to teach online or hire adjuncts to instruct students online (Picciano, 2015). The strategic planning process requires critical analysis of the undetermined belief and assumptions about online teaching. The planning process can foster a process of analysis, evaluation, validation and revision of potentials in transformative education.  A revolutionary learning process would require institutions to examine their areas of weakness and develop strategies to make a change. Unfortunately, most higher education facilities lack supportive and reflective professional transformation models discussed above.

sheldon

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