While a recent study reported college and university trustees may not know enough about educational technologies, Boston University officials said the Board of Trustees is engaged and informed when it comes to university decisions about online education.
“In short, we found that most trustees don’t feel like they’re prepared to make strategic decisions about technology for their institutions,” said Merrill Schwartz, author of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges’ 2013 Survey on Technology and Instruction.
The survey, released Oct. 9, reported only 19 percent of trustees feel prepared to make decisions about using new educational technologies, with 48 percent being somewhat prepared, and 21 percent being somewhat unprepared.
“This is an area where many institutions are going to be looking in the future, and they [trustees] are wanting to feel comfortable making decisions in this area,” Schwartz said. “It’s also important that they are receiving high quality information about online learning.”
While more than one-half of college and university boards are allocating more time to make decisions about educational technology, only about one-third of board members feel they are receiving information about online learning they would consider excellent or good, the survey reported.
The survey was distributed to board members at the AGB’s 2,000 member institutions. AGB received anonymous responses from around 1,200 trustees at various colleges and universities, Schwartz said.
The survey results indicate that many college boards need to spend more time discussing online learning and educational technologies, she said.
“Those colleges and universities … that are looking to expand their population are probably going to need to engage their boards in conversations more often, provide better information, and do more board education around the issues of technology and learning as part of their planning process,” she said.
Assistant Secretary of the BU Board of Trustees Ivan Bernier said the administration communicates well with trustees about plans for implementing educational technologies.
“The administration has been very forthcoming about plans for development of educational technology at the university with them [trustees],” he said.
BU trustees are informed, engaged, and prepared to make decisions about educational technology and online learning, Bernier said.
“As the university’s process develops, the trustees are definitely kept well-informed of potential possible strategies going forward,” he said. “They have robust discussion about the administration’s plan for developing educational technology.”
Co-chair of the Council on Educational Technology and Learning Innovation Elizabeth Loizeaux said the Board of Trustees has extensive discussions about strategies for using technology for learning at BU.
“[BU] President [Robert Brown] and [University] Provost [Jean Morrison] are deeply involved in thinking through the opportunities opened by educational technology, as evidenced by the establishment of the Council on Educational Technology and Learning Innovation last October , and the implementation of one of its key recommendations, the founding of the Digital Learning Initiative,” Loizeaux said in an email.
After joining the online learning platform edX in May, BU is obligated to offer five Massive Online Open Courses, or MOOCs. MOOCs enable people worldwide to take university courses online for free. BU is currently in the process of developing MOOCs.
“The DLI will develop the five MOOCs that are part of BU’s partnership with edX, and will develop the projects that emerge from the CETLI seed grant process,” she said.
BU already uses many educational technologies, Loizeaux said. BU’s Metropolitan College has an online degree program, while other BU schools and colleges offer hybrid courses.
“There are many ways of using online educational technology to advance education and provide flexibility for both students and faculty, from fully online degree programs to individual online courses, to blended programs and courses, to the use of online tools in face-to-face classes,” she said. “BU faculty are currently using or developing all of these ways of extending the availability, flexibility and effectiveness of education.”