Webinar: Leveraging Project-Based Partnerships for Long Term Impact

Last updated on: May 26, 2021

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Throughout the pandemic, higher ed institutions had an increased need for short term services to keep their operations moving as they navigated campus closures and transitioned staff and students online for the first time. Recently, UPCEA and Wiley Education Services partnered with several higher ed leaders for an engaging panel discussion to address how project-based partnerships not only provide solutions for a variety of challenges but also set universities up for future success in a post-COVID world.

Topics of Discussion

Panelists from the University of Wyoming, George Mason University, Winthrop University, and Wiley discussed key insights and takeaways from their experience with partnering on short term projects, including:

  • Understanding the strategic value of project-based partnerships
  • Applying best practices to maximize project outcomes
  • Ensuring quality experiences for students and faculty while working to scale
  • Approaches for finding the right partner for your needs

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Shandi Thompson:
All right. Well welcome everybody, and thank you for joining us for today’s webinar, Leveraging Project-Based Partnerships for Long Term Impact. My name is Shandi Thompson with Wiley Education Services. And I’m happy to be joined today by our presenters from ray of schools and organizations. Special thanks to UPCEA for co-hosting this presentation with us today. Before I get started, I would like to go over… Oops, sorry. I would like to go over a few housekeeping items. All attendees will be muted during the webinar, however, we do welcome your questions and comments.

Shandi Thompson:
Please type them in the Q&A pane. The moderator will respond to questions in the Q&A pane throughout the presentation. And we will also reserve about 15 minutes of today’s presentation for our panelists to answer questions that came through either at registration, or while we’re speaking. We also encourage you to continue this conversation on social media using the #ProjectBasedPartners. And lastly, access to a recording of today’s presentation will be sent to all registrants via email tomorrow. And with that, I’m going to turn us over to Jim Fong chief research Officer of UPCEA, who is the moderator of today’s panel.

Jim Fong:
Well, thank you very much Shandi. Hello, everybody, it’s my pleasure to be here today to be part of this session. I’m Jim Fong, chief research officer of UPCEA and Wiley is a partner with UPCEA. And so, it’s our pleasure to be working with them on this webinar. UPCEA is 105 year old professional association and nonprofit and my role here is, I direct a research team to do custom and trend research in the field. And I really want you to thank Wiley for doing this webinar, but also for playing their role during this pandemic. Because as we know, we’re talking about project-based partnerships, we’re talking about short-term initiatives.

Jim Fong:
But after we come out of this pandemic, it’ll be long-term relationships. Hopefully will be established here. I personally do not believe that higher education would have thrived or would struggled to survive during this pandemic without strategic partners, like Wiley and others. The private sector really played a huge role in terms of doing its best at continuity within higher education, providing continuity students here. And so, what we’re really going to be talking about with our panel today is these project-based partnerships, these short-term relationships that could turn into something else on the way.

Jim Fong:
But I think we look at this, and we think that higher education and private sector work really well. And we want to learn more from this as we move ahead. So, we all know that COVID was an inflection point in higher education, while the intent of this discussion is not to dwell on the COVID experience itself. For many institutions short or long-term, short-term or project-based partnerships played a critical role in helping them weather the storm, and come out of it on the other side, stronger and firm. By way of this introduction, I would like to ask each of our panelists, under what circumstances do short-term or project-based partnerships make the most sense?

Jim Fong:
Please help me know who you are, a bit about what you do at your institution and your thoughts about the following question? So, the question is, each institution has unique initiatives they are running, but there are common needs that make project-based partnerships worth consideration. Let me actually start off with Kimarie Whetstone from Winthrop University. Kimarie, why don’t you give me a reflection on the question, each institution has unique initiatives they are running but there are common needs that make project-based partnerships worth consideration.

Kimarie Whetstone:
Thank you. Good afternoon, I’m Kimarie Whetstone, director of online learning and the office of online learning at Winthrop University. Manages the Blackboard Learning Management System. We also provide training and technical support for our faculty on the learning management system, and it’s integrated software. And instructional design support for faculty who are developing online programs. I would say project-based partnerships are worth considering, particularly for smaller institutions that may not have a very large online learning team, or office of online learning. That was definitely the case for Winthrop.

Kimarie Whetstone:
The partnership definitely became an extension of the office of online learning with respect to course development and program planning. So, where we had, again, a very small staff, a very small instructional design team, Wiley became that extension for us and was able to do a lot of the heavy lifting for faculty in that regard with their academic services team, and learning designers, and learning technologists.

Jim Fong:
Great. Thank you very much. Let’s go to Ben Cook from the University of Wyoming. Ben, why don’t you tell us what your title is, what you do there? And reflect on each institution unique initiative, what their common needs that make project-based partnerships worthy consideration?

Ben Cook:
Sure. Thanks, Jim. Ben cook, I’m the interim associate vice provost for online and distance learning at the University of Wyoming. Prior to taking on this role, just recently here in December. I’m actually the MBA program director as well. And we have some online programs in the College of Business. And it was really through that engagement and those other programs that brought me to this role for the university as a whole. I think at the University of Wyoming, one thing that’s been critical for us about these partnerships, is really assessing where we’re at with our capacity.

Ben Cook:
And that capacity can be interpreted broadly to mean not just our personnel resources, and how many folks we have that we can bring to bear to support programs that are moving online or want to do new things, but also looking at the cultural capacity for absorbing a partnership like this. Because there are a lot of strong feelings that can be heard across programs where they think about standardizing the way their courses looking and feel, how the courses are designed, how it’s delivered, if that’s going to deviate from prior experience.

Ben Cook:
And so, I think these shorter-term partnerships allow you to tailor the engagement just to where you are, and for your needs without being a big scary multiyear collaboration or investment. It really allows you to capacity test and vet how this would fit into your institution, culturally and avoid hiring a bunch of people in an initiative. If it turns out that you’re maybe not ready, institutionally for this kind of engagement.

Jim Fong:
Very cool. So, basically, you’re putting your toe in the water a little bit and kicking the tires. Wonderful. Charles Kreitzer, from George Mason University. Charlie, remind me of your title again, and what your response to the question would be.

Charles Kreitzer:
Hey. So, Charlie kreitzer. I am the Executive Director for online operations at George Mason University within the provost office. Mason is one of the largest public institutions in Virginia, we have almost 40,000 students across our undergraduate and graduate programs. And so, when I think about short-term partnerships, really what immediately comes to mind is an opportunity to test something and pilot it out in sort of a small scale way to Ben’s point, not sort of creating a multiyear, highly intensive project. And really just testing out internal capacity building as well.

Charles Kreitzer:
So, we did work in collaboration with our teaching and learning center. The Stearns Center at George Mason. Tons of internal support for faculty development and instructional design especially in these last year, when we’ve been faced with 1000s of faculty and hundreds of courses that need to be put online. It was essential that we took a step back and thought a little bit broader about how we want to achieve some of our goals and trying to mix both internal and external capacities.

Jim Fong:
Wonderful. Christina Anderson, director of learner experience at Wiley Education Services. You have a different perspective here, you’ve worked with a lot of different institutions. Tell us about your perspective and how you see the value here?

Christina Anderson:
Thanks, Jim. And I think these are all great examples about how a partner can augment or amplify your own efforts and test the waters. I think zooming out what we’ve seen across the board are just some common needs to bring in an external partner that center around maybe time, internal resources and expertise. So, a partner is really great at I kind of tapping into their deep experience and quickly hitting the ground running with aggressive timelines maybe that the internal personnel might be too constrained to do. Or the partner might bring a skillset that you don’t have on campus already. So, I think if any of those three areas are really in demand, then a project-based partnership might be worth considering.

Jim Fong:
Cool, great. Well, thank you, Christina. As with any large initiative, there are a number of parties that have to be on board, because this is a complicated venture here. And a lot of universities aren’t often ready to jump in. And we’ve all worked with procurement departments, and finance whatsoever, making things happen, can be very confusing. Let me actually ask the panel about their tips in terms of securing buy-in from various stakeholders. What are your thoughts about securing buy-in from executive leaders, as well as those in the ground such as faculty or staff? And so, let me kind of throw the question out there. We’ve got a few of our panelists that have got some great experiences with this. So, any of you can jump in at this point.

Charles Kreitzer:
I will go first. So, I think on my end of things, where I’m situated, I have to sort of consider both our executive leadership, and what are some of the questions that they’re going to have. And really, that comes along with, how are we going to fund it, how are we going to pay for this? And how are we going to sort of structurally move some of this forward? So, it was important for us to look for care funding, grant funds, and some other alternative sources to actually meet some of our leadership’s concerns.

Charles Kreitzer:
But then also from faculty perspective, really trying to identify and respond to any concerns, any challenges, any objections that might play into the narrative. At least at Mason, we were very specific to be working on instructional design and course development projects. And for any public institution, we know that faculty ultimately own the courses and they own the content. And so, it was really important for us to make sure that not only did we have funding, but we were actually able to collaborate effectively with faculty, address their needs, but still try and still find a way to move forward in a really sort of positive way.

Jim Fong:
Great. Ben, what about you at the University of Wyoming there, do you have any insight about… I’ve been on your campus and I’m sure it’s fairly complex there. What are your thoughts about getting buy-in?

Ben Cook:
Yeah. As Charles mentioned, budget is always going to be a concern. Folks, are always interested in how this impacts budget. I would say that it’s really critical that you work with your folks in your provost office, and especially your teaching and learning center. So, if you have a teaching and learning center, you want to make sure you understand the role that your teaching and learning center plays on your campus. And really clearly define your mission, vision, goals. I’m a business faculty member, so, I always go with mission and vision statements.

Ben Cook:
But you really need to understand what you’re trying to get out of the partnership and make the case that way. For me, I always go to the student, because what we’re really ultimately trying to do is create an amazing program that serves students and delivers a high quality product, to meet their needs, and to help them further their career and their goals. And so, I think when you start with a vision that’s focused on delivering high quality instruction to your students, it really breaks down barriers if you’re finding them institutionally, because you’re able to put the project in the context of improving the experience for your learners.

Jim Fong:
Let me just follow up that with that a little bit more Ben here. But after you’ve done that, are there concerns at all that arise from faculty or leadership? Or does the student voice carry enough weight in the process?

Ben Cook:
For me, personally, I think the concern is one, you hear a lot about avoiding duplication of resources that, “Hey, we’ve all ready got a teaching and learning center, and we’ve already got some marketing support, why do we need this new partnership?” And so, I think you have to anticipate questions that might arise around duplication of resources. And then on the faculty side, at least at the University of Wyoming, historically, there’s no mandate that you work with an instructional designer to develop your online course. And so, you’re teaching online, you go develop your course, and you have a lot of academic freedom in that framework.

Ben Cook:
And so, there’s a lot of questions that often come up about, is this going to be too rigid? Is this going to over standardize it? I’m not going to be able to personalize this course if we develop it in a partnership or they’re going to take control? I think you have to work through and anticipate some of those questions, which is why it’s really important to clearly define what the objectives of the project are, and get your faculty on board in the program if you’re working with an individual program. So, that they’re all part of that conversation at the very beginning of the initiative.

Jim Fong:
Cool. Well, before I actually have Christina reflect on this. Charlie, I know that Mason has actually had a very open kind of relationship working with private partners there, corporate partners there. Did you run into any resistance or any concerns that then kind of reflected on or how was you’s years different?

Charles Kreitzer:
I think the biggest concerns, especially from a public institutions perspective when you’re thinking about, like public private partnerships is really what is the impact to the faculty? And are we able to create these kind of partnerships and structures that still help the university meet their broader goals? But give the faculty that sense of ownership still within their course, the academic freedom, being really transparent and open to conversations about issues surrounding intellectual property, or any of the other similar kind of issues that bubble up as we talk about more intentional partnerships, sort of in the public private space?

Jim Fong:
Cool. Christina, you have some experience regarding that, don’t you? What are your reflections on that?

Christina Anderson:
Yeah. I think just a lot of what Ben and Charlie said rings true as well. On the faculty side, particularly in addition to concerns about academic freedom and IP, there is always, particularly with COVID a sence that it’s going to be too much work. They’re already doing so much work in working with an instructional designer is just something else that the university is telling me to do. But really we’re here to lessen their burden, and to help them have a great experience teaching online. So, we can bring it back to that student experience. And back to I’m here to help you not just move your course from on ground to online, but really to understand what’s the online experience like and how can I make you feel really confident going into that online environment? But you’ll be effective, and you’ll have a great experience and your students will have a great experience too.

Jim Fong:
That’s great. Thank you. We’ve discussed the why and how of getting a short-term partnership like this off the ground. And I appreciate all your comments there regarding, how’d you get it working in your university. Getting the short-term partnerships off the ground, especially during the pandemic where everybody’s kind of scrambling around. What are some of the tangible ways that you leverage this model? And let me kind of open it up. Let me actually ask Kimarie to kind of reflect on what her experiences were at Winthrop regarding getting short-term partnerships off the ground. And maybe you even framing up in the way like you’ve done a lot of partnerships in the past, or this was new to your institution there.

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. This was new to our institution. And one example that I will share with all of you is that, Wiley worked with our online MSW program to add a couple of embedded measures to courses in that online program. And it used Qualtrics and it obtained feedback from students on certain assignments within modules within the course. And that feedback was used to inform the course revision process for the program and also assisted us with our continuous improvement efforts.

Jim Fong:
So, were you able to find any great aha’s in terms of your course development, or your course rollout, as a result of this?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Definitely. The feedback that was provided not only assisted with just tightening up instructions for the assignments, but also just provided an opportunity to just make a stronger course moving forward.

Jim Fong:
Great. Charlie, or Ben, do you have any experiences on this regarding tangible ways you’ve leveraged the short-term partnership or you’ve kind of got it to work in a very tangible programmatic fashion there?

Charles Kreitzer:
Yeah. So, I think the thing that comes immediately to mind, especially in the short-term way, is the summer projects that we did in the summer 2020 in an opportunity, sort of get us ready for the fall. Which we knew was going to hit and it was going to be 100% online. Well, actually at Mason, we were about like 90% online, few face-to-face section still. But what I think was, I guess, really sort of important and intangible there is trying to sort of think about the structure necessary to be successful in a sort of project space. So, for us, that was trying to start this off with pretty clear goals. We knew that we had upwards of 150 courses that needed to be put online in a fairly short-term. But there were hundreds more.

Charles Kreitzer:
So, how do we think about prioritizing, looking at highly enrolled courses, courses with large section counts, large lectures, where we knew there was just not going to be campus opportunities for face-to-face experiences. And so, we tried to not only prioritize by sort of large classes to make sure that we hit that breadth of students, and they were in sort of robust online experiences, but then also identifying those programs, and faculty, and departments that are thinking about a long-term strategy. And how do we also start working with them at this time to, I think, as I said earlier, like builds capacity, learn through this process, and really kind of come out on the other end with very different understanding.

Charles Kreitzer:
One of the things that I thought was interesting through our project was, there were definitely some things that we learned along the way, and some of them are super in the weeds. We found out that our HR and payroll department doesn’t even have the human capacity to process 300 faculty stipends in a weekend.So, what is our internal capacity and how does that even then translate to what we need to think about in a long-term way? But what was even great for me was to come back at the end of this. We did some surveys on faculty about what their experience was. And I think overwhelmingly, 80% of the faculty really did have a positive experience through what was obviously a rushed development process.

Charles Kreitzer:
But we got a lot of feedback that they were happy to have sort of a third party, impartial person giving them information about their course, trying to teach them and work through new learning models. And a lot of faculty really did appreciate the structure of the project, because we all knew that it was something that needed to get done, and it needed to get done in a fairly short time.

Jim Fong:
That’s very cool. Because sometimes working with a third party, there’s a little bit of mystery. And so, if you have faculty that are developing courses in a rapid fashion here, there’s going to be a lot of things that they’re going to try to fight their way through and whatsoever. But sometimes having that third party really kind of helps that out. Christina, I know, you kind of work bridging a lot of the parties together, what’s your reflection on that?

Christina Anderson:
Yeah. So, we actually developed new ways, thinking about what are some tangible examples. So, I think the most straightforward one that a lot of the work focuses on is the course development. So, providing learning designers to faculty to work hand in hand and get their courses online in a quality way. But there’s work that we’ve done outside of that around adding videos and graphics to support the learning, about providing faculty development opportunities, so webinars, and some support there. And then some course quality reviews and program analysis. So, one example was working with a Center for Teaching and Learning, who had provided a great boot camp over the summer for all the faculty who are going online for COVID.

Christina Anderson:
But they didn’t have a chance to really assess, okay, what did the after version of the course look like after the faculty had gone through the bootcamp. So, we came in and supported that effort, and actually dug in and provided both that granular level of feedback like, “Hey, you did a great job with these three things, you might want to think about these other two things.” But then we did that analysis across all of the courses and said, “Okay, it looks like the training was really effective in these areas. And as you think about future faculty development opportunities, you might want to home in on these other areas.” So, being able to kind of balance that micro and macro view of all of the efforts and bring everything together too is the new sort of service that emerged from all of this.

Jim Fong:
Yeah. That’s really cool. Because I think when you’re doing a lot of things internally by yourself, you have your own model, and you can’t get out of that same box that you’re in. And I’ve seen we’re faculty come into it and they say, “Wow, that’s a new learning, I didn’t know that. I just thought it was just video capture my lectures or, me writing on a chalkboard and videoing that.” I think they come to learn from you as an outside provider investing in technology that there are new ways to learn and teach. And they don’t know what they don’t know sometimes. So, be that third party can really help kind of get them into the next level into the future.

Jim Fong:
So, with that being said here. These relationships are complicated. I would like to know, what are some of the hallmarks that have made partnerships successful at a practical level, because we’ve all got to learn how to dance? And as Kimarie was saying earlier, this was new to her institution here. And so, it’s like strangers meeting for the first time in some cases, sometimes there’s new faces, sometimes relationships been there. But I would like to know, from each of you, what are some of those hallmarks that make these partnerships work really well at approachable level? So, let me just throw it out there, let me start with Ben, then.

Ben Cook:
Great. I appreciate the easy question. Actually, for most projects, I think you should be defining what success looks like before you even engage the partnership. During the pandemic, success look like more resources. And frankly, it didn’t look much different than that, which was we need more hands on deck to support our faculty and delivering remote instruction during a very unprecedented time. And so, success was, did we get more resources on board, and were we able to provide those resources to our faculty? And so, that was a key part of that. But one thing that’s come from this in our work with Wiley and other partners is really knowing that you found the right partner, when you can have really good candid conversations about where you’re at as an institution, and where your partner is very flexible in helping you adjust to things that are changing on the ground.

Ben Cook:
If it’s pushback from faculty, if it’s pushback from administrators, whatever the case may be, making sure you have a partnership that’s defined in a way that allows you the flexibility to pivot when things change, when things go as you don’t expect. And then also rely on that candidate feedback to say at your institution, here’s an area where we think you would be better served in a certain way, based on the work we’ve done with other institutions, or what we’ve seen in the past. And so really being in a position yourself to accept that feedback, and recognize that you don’t know everything. And that just because you didn’t invent it doesn’t mean that, that’s not a great insight. I think that’s an important aspect of the partnership.

Jim Fong:
Cool. Charlie, what’s going on with Mason in terms of how do they see as a benchmark of in terms of success here? What do you think are those hallmarks that you would call a successful element between the institution and the partner?

Charles Kreitzer:
I think one of the most successful things that came out of this is sort of newfound sense of competence with our faculty body. And really when I think about short-term partnerships, or really any partnership, they’re successful when the lines start to blur from us versus them kind of context. And what was really great about this, because while I do agree with Ben, would have been amazing to have the project defined beforehand, we pretty much just started and hope for the best. And what came out of that was a group of faculty who felt more confident in their teaching, they felt more confident in their ability to be successful in a modality that they may not have been familiar with.

Charles Kreitzer:
And personally, from my own sort of vantage point at the university, a whole new group of faculty that even before the pandemic had said, “Never going to open Blackboard, I’m never going to teach online, it is the devil incarnate.” And yet those same faculty members are now having really, really great conversations about what the future of education looks like, what the future of their teaching looks like. And that, to me is probably the most successful thing that came out of the entire experience, is just really being able to have a group of faculty that really just are a little bit more sort of aware and confident about their teaching practices.

Jim Fong:
It seems like it was an accelerator for Mason there, which was wonderful.

Charles Kreitzer:
Absolutely.

Jim Fong:
Kimarie, what about you in terms of these hallmarks of success?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. So, short partnerships are working when you are able to attain measurable success in areas where previously you may not have been able to. And I’m going to go back to summer 2020, where again, the world went online. The majority of our courses were online and we have provided training for our faculty on online course design, and development and facilitation, but then there’s the actual application of that training. And so, we recognize that it was going to be important for us to review the courses that have been developed in summer 2020 prior to delivery. And going back to the earlier part of our discussion when you have an online learning team that small, that’s a pretty huge task to lay eyes on every course that’s going to be delivered online in the summer.

Kimarie Whetstone:
And so, we were able to leverage the Partnership for QA reviews for our summer courses last year. And through that process, we worked with our partner Wiley to take our existing course development checklists and adapt it to become a quality assurance checklists. So, it looked at the technical aspects of the course and the usability of the course to make sure links were working. And that design standards were adhered to, and things like that. So, that definitely provided benefits for us. And, again, it was something that we would not have been able to do on our own and we truly appreciate having the support of our partner for that.

Jim Fong:
Kimarie, let me follow up with a question on that. Was there a best practice that you developed or that you look back on, that you might recommend as a result of these short-term partnerships?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. I can actually think of three best practices. The first one is definitely just recognizing that having outside feedback is valuable. Having an outside set of eyes to look at courses is valuable. The second best practice that I would cite is to establish an implementation team in the various functional areas across the university that are going to be touching the online programs in any fashion or in any regard. And those functional areas would meet regularly to talk about this processes and procedures.

Kimarie Whetstone:
And to be sure that the online student population that they’re included, essentially in the existing processes and procedures. And then third, I would cite, maintaining regular communication with the partner. That is absolutely critical. So, that there’s no assumptions, if there’s a question it can be asked right away and answered, versus assuming things and things being misconstrued or misunderstood. If there’s regular communication, that’s an opportunity to combat things like that.

Jim Fong:
So, it’s faculty, it’s implementation team and it’s communication. Basically, when I say faculty, it’s like faculty don’t know everything which is surprising. But anyway, those three are your best practices that you would recommend here that you’ve learned from the experience. You have an implementation team and the communication is strong between the provider. Let me actually go to Ben. What about you in terms of maybe specific best practices that you might recommend?

Ben Cook:
Yeah. I would actually go back to what Kimarie said as point number two, which is your implementation team. It’s called a partnership for a reason and it’s not because you’re outsourcing this and that you don’t have any work left to do. And thankfully you have these new resources, you really have to think through who do we need to execute on this, and what’s their commitment going to look like? And make sure that those people are in place and ready to go, because there are going to be hiccups, and barriers, and roadblocks that you have to work through.

Ben Cook:
And hardly anything is insurmountable when it comes to that. But you have to have people dedicated to facilitating the partnership and working with them. Because when you do engage in a partnership, they’re going to bring a lot of resources to the table, and they’re going to be on schedule and on budget even if you’re not prepared to do so. So, make sure your team is ready to go, treat it like a partnership as opposed to an outsourcing arrangement. And I think you’ll have a lot of success.

Jim Fong:
Cool. Before, we start looking to the future. And then going into our Q&A. Let me ask Christina, whether she has any insights, just looking across the landscape around what she might see best practices are at some institutions?

Christina Anderson:
Yeah. So, I think a lot of these were touched on already. But like really can’t emphasize enough how critical that communication and transparency is. And like Ben said, making sure both sides are bringing the resources to the table. So, if you’re in a strong partnership, you should be able to have those hard conversations. And I think that’s one of the differences between and why we use the word partnership intentionally, is that it’s a collaboration and it’s a relationship and a communication.

Christina Anderson:
Speaking about the best practices, specifically in a lot of the short-term projects there are pieces of infrastructure that we can bring as well. So, like dashboards to Charlie’s example, when you’re managing 300 faculty developers in courses, how can you quickly get insight into the status and the issues? And focus your attention on campus to the places where you need it? So, I think having that infrastructure in place is as exciting topic as far as best practices that really helps things go smoothly.

Jim Fong:
Yeah. That’s wonderful. I’m just trying to make the connection now in terms of the future and having these best practices carry forward because there’s a number of really good things. And it sounds like communication relationship and all these being willing to open up and listen to each other is wonderful. Before, we go to Q&A I want to kind of ask the panelists just one question about the future. And what kind of long-term effects or value do you feel the shorter-term partnerships have brought to your institutions as we move past the COVID experience?

Jim Fong:
Some of you have talked about some of these new learnings or these new things that you do. But what do you see as long-term effects that might impact what you’re doing today that might carry in the future relationships? Now, maybe you’re going to go from a short-term to a long-term relationship. Or are you going to renew and do this again. What kind of things kind of got instilled on your campuses that could have a long-term impact? Let me just throw it out to anybody now.

Charles Kreitzer:
I think from my perspective, it’s almost like the continuation of a grassroots efforts, and how does that then sort of set you up for long-term success? Many of us are from very large, or from large institutions, lots of faculty, lots of diverse perspectives. And it was very helpful to have like a small captured set of faculty who were engaged, who were sort of ready to kind of put in the work. And it is work. There was nothing easy about doing it. But we have a group that sort of stepped up and did it, and it was great. But what is not only good about having a faculty member, and a course, come out of this, is you have the rest of the community sitting around the edges, watching what’s happening.

Charles Kreitzer:
And it’s one thing for us to communicate and be transparent. But as we always say, “Actions speak louder than words.” And when we were able to sort of have a successful project, a successful partnership, the sort of whole community starts to change their mindset a little bit. And I think that is really the important thing about sort of looking forward is how do universities bring in additional perspectives? But really, most importantly, how do we learn from those perspectives and integrate them into our future opportunities?

Jim Fong:
Cool. Yeah, success can really build upon success. It sounds like. Kimarie, what about in your institution. What are these some of those long-term effects that you think might have happened at your institution?

Kimarie Whetstone:
For Winthrop, long-term effects of the partnership, I would definitely say is a standard and expectation for quality has been set through the partnership that is applicable to all programs at the institution. So, at every level at the institution, undergraduate, graduate, whether it be certificate programs or non-degree programs, there is definitely a standard and an expectation for quality that has been set, that truly transcends just the courses that are a part of the partnership.

Jim Fong:
So, it’s no longer the Wild West anymore?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Right.

Jim Fong:
Ben, what about you. Once your short-term kind of partnerships end here, is everything just going to back to the way it was? Or Did anything happen that’s more long term at Wyoming?

Ben Cook:
I think some of that is hard to measure. But I would echo what Kimarie said, is that there’s a change in quality perception, I believe. And there’s a cultural shift that happens when folks engage with learning designers, and really think through their course differently than they have in the past. And even though we have a great teaching and learning center on our campus, there’s no mandate, the faculty work with them to develop their course. And I think what’s happened in this environment is people have realized the value of going to their local instructional designer, whether that’s in your teaching and learning center, or someone with a partnership, and taking seriously what backward design is, taking seriously what universal design principles mean. Making sure that you’re developing accessible courses from an ADA compliance perspective, and you’re really meeting your learners needs.

Ben Cook:
And I think once you do that, you change the culture a little bit. The teaching culture of your institution, with respect to online and people if you view it differently. And for us, Wiley has been a critical partner in helping educate even individual departments or units about what an online program can look like with respect to the scheduling of courses. How students actually work through the curriculum, not just limited to individual courses themselves. And so there’s a lot of things that you can glean from a partnership that allow you to pivot in new directions that maybe you’ve had resistance to in the past. And I think that the bar is going up for what it means to deliver high quality online instruction. And that’s a market reality that all of us have to be prepared to tackle. Because if you think that you can just throw something online and get students, I don’t think that’s going to be the case. I truly believe you have to focus on quality and that’s going to drive your results.

Jim Fong:
Okay great. Well, thank you. Now, we’re going to go into the Q&A section for the next 13 or 14 minutes here. And so, if you haven’t typed in a question to ask our panelists, please do so. And we’ll look for these questions here. So, I’m actually looking for them. Shandi, I don’t know if you’ve got anything that’s coming up or whether or not our folks in the back room there have found any questions for us? We have a few questions that were sent to us pre-conference, but what’s out there?

Shandi Thompson:
Let’s give our audience a few minutes to think about their questions. And let’s begin with some that came through with registration.

Jim Fong:
Great. So, the ones that come up with registration here is, let me actually ask them one about scaling online offerings quickly here. How do you think about equity and access in terms of scaling online offerings quickly? Do any of our panelists have any response to that? Any impact in terms of that, because I know that we’re moving fast as a higher education community. Any thoughts there?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. I’ll jump in here. One thing that comes to mind with regard to access in particular was the pandemic really made the digital divide be more apparent, where when students went home for spring break, and then were told not to come back to campus. Last March, we quickly recognized that there were students who relied on campus computer labs for their coursework, or that there were students who relied on the Wi-Fi on campus, or the internet on campus to complete their coursework. And now they were back home, and may not have had the same level of access to a laptop and to internet that they needed.

Kimarie Whetstone:
So, one thing that we’re looking at implementing coming soon is the laptop program. Where students are issued a laptop, so that we are more prepared than we were previously if students need to be able to work from home. Suddenly they weren’t planning to, but now they need to that they have a laptop available to them. And then also mobile hotspots, as well. But we also recognize that that doesn’t solve the complete problem by any means. Because in certain areas, internet is just not readily available, even if you do have a mobile hotspot. But definitely, I would say with regard to access, we’re looking at implementing a laptop program at the institution.

Jim Fong:
That’s wonderful. And Mason or Wyoming, are you doing anything as well to address equity and access?

Charles Kreitzer:
Virginia does have some fairly rural pockets. And one of the important outcomes that came out of working with an instructional designer was having the opportunity for faculty to think differently about lecturing and some of the content that they have. So, I had students with poor broadband, some of them honestly are still using like dial-up internet. And it is not humanly possible to download a one and a half hour lecture video and watch that in an asynchronous way.

Charles Kreitzer:
And one of the ways that we tried to increase some of the equity and access was even just to think about some of the structural components within our course, like how do we shift to shorter videos, not only because they are more engaging, but also because students can just access them easier. It’s much easier to just drive to the sort of parking lot get Wi-Fi on public routers and quickly download a few videos and being able to watch them rather than trying to sit through a synchronous course or trying again, as I said to download humongous files. And then obviously, of course, being able to transition online gave us some additional opportunities with our accessibility practices, especially using things like Blackboard Ally within our LMS.

Jim Fong:
Cool. Ben, anything happening there in Wyoming?

Ben Cook:
I would pick up right where Charlie left off and talk about accessibility beyond the digital divide, and just getting access to the technology. The pandemic really highlighted that there’s a whole set of learners that maybe we haven’t always been thinking about, because a lot of online programs you self-select into them as a student. You’re choosing to learn online, you’re prepared to learn online. But on the accessibility side, if you haven’t thought about making sure you have closed captioning in your lectures. If you haven’t thought about the way your fonts and colors appear in your [inaudible 00:47:04]. You end up with the Wild West of solutions out there. People doing things very differently and that may not actually meet learner needs.

Ben Cook:
And so, one thing we’ve actually done with our partnership with Wiley is ask them to help us kind of take a random sample of courses that are typically offered online and review them for accessibility issues so that we can figure out what are we doing right, what are we doing wrong, and then loop that back into the way we train people to develop these courses. And also be anticipating needs of these types of learners, whether it be an online proctoring solution, and you forgot to enable screen readers for somebody that may be dyslexic. And so, I think you have to be prepared and anticipate the challenges that come from online learning. And looking forward to the future, it makes me think that we need to do better, and that there’s a whole set of learners that we haven’t adequately served because we haven’t been as thoughtful as we could be about accessibility online. And that’s something that’s on my mind, at least.

Jim Fong:
Very cool. Thank you. Shandi, do we have any questions here, because we do have one more registration question?

Shandi Thompson:
Yep. Let’s go ahead and ask that registration question.

Jim Fong:
This looks kind of interesting, because it’s really more about, how do you fill that hole or that need? So, the question is, how do we begin our search for a partner for a short-term project? And this is something about do you just do a Google search? Or do you have referrals or whatsoever? I’d love to hear from the three of you, in terms of how did you begin your search? Or did you have relationships set up? Or did you ask somebody about this? So, let me start with you, Ben, first.

Ben Cook:
We came to Wiley and some of our other partners through an RFP process when we put this out. And so, we obviously got a lot of responses there. But we had already started having conversations prior to that. So, we had a sense of folks that were going to be involved. I think it’s really important to reach out to folks in your network. The universities, even though I guess we’re in competition with each other, we like to share. And I think you need to reach out to your colleagues at other institutions, and find out what they’re doing. If there’s an institution that looks like they’re doing something you’d like to be able to mimic or at least build off of give somebody a call and find out, who they’re working with, what their experience has been like. And I think you can get a lot of insight that way.

Jim Fong:
[inaudible 00:49:44]use the core, use your networks there as well. Okay, Charlie, what about you, how did you start your search?

Charles Kreitzer:
I think it’s important to just sort of look at your backyard. One thing that has been important for us, is how do we also sort of support the State of Virginia and the larger DMV region. So, Mason itself, we have been working with Wiley Education Services with some of our graduate programs for a number of years. And so, it was an obvious choice to leverage Wiley within this project. But we had even more courses than even Wiley we could support and actually had two instructional design firms working with us.

Charles Kreitzer:
The second one came from a conversation with our sort of continuing professional Ed unit. They had an instructional design firm that they had used a few times to develop some of their certificate programs and micro-credentials. And it really was just leveraging that network trying to get buy-in and when you’re able to do it that way, I think that transition becomes a little bit easier because there’s already sort of a foundation of trust there.

Jim Fong:
Great. Kimarie, tell us about your journey in terms of finding a short-term project partner?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. Our experience at Winthrop was very similar to what Ben described in terms of, we went through an RFP process. I did participate as a member of the RFP Committee during that time period. And so, that was essentially how we came to know Wiley and also as been referenced. We checked references too, so we were able to speak to other institutions who may have already been partnering with Wiley, or we’re considering it. And that was also helpful in our decision making.

Jim Fong:
Great. So, if we get any more questions here, and please feel free to type in questions for our panelists here. I’m going to start throwing out a question shortly to start wrapping things up. Shandi, I guess we okay with things, or did we get any new questions in?

Shandi Thompson:
We do have a question. This one is for Kimarie and Christina. Once you have the assessment embedded in the course, how was the feedback acted upon to improve courses?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. So, with the online MSW program, I mentioned that Qualtrics was used. So, there was essentially a team from Wiley that had access to the Qualtrics results. And again, those results were utilized through a formal or the formal, I will say course revision process for the program. And that is actually something that is currently underway for the online MSW program. So, that was definitely one aspect there in terms of how those results would be used. And then the second part was continuous improvement efforts. So, on an annual basis, our programs engaged in completing continuous improvement report. So, there’s a plan that’s written and then there’s a report that’s written. And so, the results were also very applicable to reflection and process improvement for those formal or an annual continuous improvement reports.

Jim Fong:
Christina, what’s your experiences there with integrating feedback into the process?

Christina Anderson:
This is an area I feel strongly about, excuse me, I actually pushed this. So, I think, and Ben touched on this earlier about the student experience. But that’s our shared goal, is making a high quality experience for students. And if you don’t hear directly from students, it makes it that much harder. So, we found that implementing these kind of low friction, one or two questions just in time. We got a lot better responses than an end of term survey where a student might have to go back through the last eight weeks and think, “Oh, what did I do in week two? Was that helping my learning? Was it effective?”

Christina Anderson:
So, we’ve found a lot of power in just getting that quick feedback. And then using it as one data point. So, it’s also a conversation with the instructor about what went well for you. Where did students struggle as we think about continuous improvement and course revisions, it’s definitely a great input. Not the only input, certainly, but very valuable.

Jim Fong:
Wonderful. Okay. Let me actually start wrapping things up today, before I hand it back to Shandi to kind of get us across the finish line here. But I’m going to ask each of their panelists to give us their closing thoughts on a final question. And the final question is, what is one piece of advice you would give your peers in terms of making project-based partnerships work and turning them into long-term partnerships? So, let me start with Charlie first, in terms of that question, what is one piece of advice you would give your peers in terms of making project-based partnerships work in terms of turning them into long-term partnerships?

Charles Kreitzer:
I think it is twofold. It is celebrating the wins, celebrating the successes and getting the word out in as many ways as humanly possible. Newsletters, webinars, town halls, faculty groups. How can you like close the communication loop? And… I lost the other one, my train of thought has gone now. Maybe it’ll come back to me.

Jim Fong:
I think it was on transparency.

Charles Kreitzer:
It might have been, but it’s gone. So, sorry about that.

Jim Fong:
That’s okay. If you remember, just jump back in. I’m going to shift over to Kimarie, what would your piece of advice would be regarding the short-term partnerships and turning them into long-term partnerships?

Kimarie Whetstone:
Sure. I’ll draw off of an earlier response. Ensure that all key players are at the table. So the importance of an implementation team is something that I really would stress that you have perspectives, again, from across the institution. And some of those functional areas would be admissions, financial aid marketing, IT. Student Support Services, representatives from the academic programs, representatives who manage institutional policies. So, again, having the key players at the table, that’s definitely a strong recommendation for me.

Jim Fong:
Great. And Ben what [crosstalk 00:56:54] So, Charlie, you’re back, all right.

Charles Kreitzer:
Oh, sorry, I it came to mind. And before I lose it, I think it was, celebrate the wins, but then also really be upfront about the challenges as well. I think the faculty, our community really did appreciate the fact that we talked about what was good, but also what didn’t work, what you can learn from it, and how that is going to sort of shape future initiatives. So, that’s what I would say, the good and the bad. And be sure that you sort of addressed both of them with the community.

Jim Fong:
That’s great. Managing expectations is always a big piece there. And so, I appreciate that. It was definitely well worth the wait. Ben, what about your recommendations there?

Ben Cook:
Well. And I’ll tie this into, I think Charlie did a great job talking about the importance of really highlighting what you’ve done well, so that you can advertise that, and let people know, and get that additional buy-in. He actually texted me a different question, which was how can you make change, when you’re not in a position of authority? If this is something you’re interested in, but you’re sitting here going, “Well, that works for you, because you’re sitting in the provost office, but I don’t have that luxury.” I think there’s a lot of wins that can be had in your sphere of influence. And for the one long-term partnership we currently have, it’s because we built it inside of our college.

Ben Cook:
We established the vision, we established where we were going to get the budget, we had the buy-in, our faculty were on board. And so, I think you have to start with where you have champions to make an impact. And I think you’d be surprised by how receptive leadership is, when somebody brings something to the table, it’s often that leadership is just busy and has a lot of other things on their plate. Not that they don’t want to go down a certain road or are interested in it. So, I think if you do a good job, laying the groundwork, defining your vision and showing the case for why you want to go this direction, you’re going to get somebody to listen to you.

Jim Fong:
That’s great. Thank you very much, Ben. And Christina, based on your perspective and working with a lot of institutions. What do you think your advice would be?

Christina Anderson:
Yeah. So, we found a lot of our longer-term partnerships that evolved just through talking through some challenges that might feel like out of scope of the current project. And so, I guess the piece of advice there is don’t shy away from mentioning another challenge you’re having or something that you’re thinking through just because it doesn’t feel like its part of this project. Even if it’s tangential, it could lead to a great opportunity for both sides.

Jim Fong:
Wonderful. Well, I want to thank the panelists here just for this great insight about making things work, because I think partnership is so important. I just wish I would have had some of this advice 10, 15 years ago when I was at Penn State working through a number of cool things I saw the corporate community was doing and couldn’t really find that way to kind of latch onto those neat things there. So, Shandi, I’d like to kind of pass the ball back to you, to kind of wrap things up for us. But again, thank you very much our panelists for your great experiences here.

Shandi Thompson:
Yes, I echo that. Thank you all for joining us today, to our panelists, thank you to UPCEA for co-hosting with us. And thank you to all of our attendees for joining in the conversation today. As a reminder, you can keep that conversation going using #ProjectBasedPartners. A couple of other end of session housekeeping items. All attendees will receive an email tomorrow with access to the recording.

Shandi Thompson:
Also, today’s attendees have the opportunity to receive complimentary access to Wiley Education Services self-assessment that will allow you to evaluate where your institution is excelling or has opportunity to improve in their learning experiences. If you would like to take advantage of that offer or ask us any other questions, please reach out to us @edservices.wiley.com. And last thing we do have a wealth of free resources available on our website webinars, infographics, reports. Please check those out @edservices.wiley.com/resources. And with that, please have a good rest of your day. Bye.

Charles Kreitzer:
Bye. Thank you.

Christina Anderson:
Bye. Thank you.

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