Q. What technology conversations should I be having with my CIO about supporting remote instruction at my institution?


Much discussions about the sudden move to deliver remote instruction have centered on the tactical, such as moving course materials into the learning management system or deploying the right conferencing tool (Zoom, for example) to deliver course materials remotely. Given the urgency of responding to the impact of COVID-19 on college and university campuses, it is understandable that institutional leaders want to focus on immediate steps to manage the lift to move from in-person to remote learning.

The role of the chief information officer (CIO), however, focuses more on technology strategy, so your conversations with the CIO about supporting remote learning should concentrate on more than the tactical. Our take is that these conversations would have the highest value if they targeted two key areas, all related to the quality of remote instruction for students:

  1. Ensuring student support: As we wrote in a previous Wake-Up Call, academic help is essential for all students when considering remote instruction, involving educational planning, counseling and coaching, and risk targeting and intervention. One area you should address with your CIO is whether your current technological approach to remote instruction addresses student support needs and, if not, what your institution should do to ensure that the approach does.
  2. Supporting student performance: Student performance means more than the output of student assessments; it includes measuring how students engage with curriculum, faculty, and staff, and how they increase their knowledge, skills, and abilities that lead to gainful employment. In your conversations with your CIO, consider how remote learning impacts the strength of your technology solutions–learning management systems, career readiness solutions, or retention management solutions–to measure and support student performance.

These two areas of focus will help your institution look beyond the tactical and safeguard remote learning against becoming something detrimental to your students in the long run. Your conversations with your institution’s CIO will help your institution maintain the high-level of student support and student performance required for your students to become successful, regardless of learning modality.

James Wiley

Eduventures Principal Analyst at Encoura