Dr Randy Swearer – Surfing the tsunami – change & innovation during a period of turbulence


And so that takes me to the very exciting
bit of the morning, which is to introduce our first keynote speaker, Prof. Randy Swearer,
who’s sitting over here. Randy Swearer has been Provost at Philadelphia University since
2009, having previously been Dean of Parsons New School of Design in New York City, and
prior to that, a tenured faculty member at the Design Division of the University of Texas
College of Fine Arts, where he led on curriculum development. Randy Swearer has developed considerable
expertise, and has gained a formidable reputation in transformative institutional planning processes,
and in innovation in higher education. He has driven change at a diverse group of institutions,
by introducing integrative planning frameworks, raising funds for new facilities, implementing
rigorous review processes, and fostering cultures innovation, all topics on which he has presented
widely. His theme, Randy’s theme for today, how universities and colleges can navigate
through turbulent Times, and actually harness that turbulence to drive innovation is particularly
apt for all of us today, because it does feel, and maybe it has ever been thus, but it does
feel like we’re in very turbulent times, and so we’re absolutely delighted to welcome Randy
to talk to us on Surfing the Tsunami, Change and Innovation During a Period of Turbulence.
Thank you. [Applause]. It’s great to be here. I can’t see any of
you, by the way. These lights are so bright. But it’s wonderful to be here. I want to thanks
my hosts; this is my first time in Scotland, I’m embarrassed to say, coming back in two
weeks for a long, long vacation, but my four days here so far have really been wonderful.
I wanted to talk today… By the way, we’re having a little bit of problem with the monitor
down here so I’m going to have to turn around, instead of looking at the monitor, turn around
and look at the screen. I wanted to talk a little bit today…that’s me…to sort of
frame what the presentation is going to be about; we’re going to start here with the
imperative for transformative change in American…not American, but in higher education in general,
and I think, really, on both sides of the Atlantic right now, we’re all experiencing
tectonic changes, really, the sense that the model is really morphing, and changing in
ways that we really couldn’t have even anticipated ten years ago. The second part of the presentation
would be about the role of design thinking in facilitating change. Now, I’m going to
use design thinking one more time in this presentation, and we can talk about it a little
bit more as we move forward. But I’ve changed the terminology later in
the presentation to generative planning, which really isn’t any better, but design thinking,
I think, is very, very confusing to a lot of people. So we’re going to change design
thinking into generative planning, and then I’ll talk, the third piece of the presentation
is about using my university where I’m Provost, as a case study to look at how we’ve been
using generative planning as a way of transforming the university. I should mention here that
this is very much a work in progress; I almost hate to use us as a case study, because we
still have a long way to go. But we’ve tried a number of things, and I want the rest of
the higher education community to learn from our mistakes and from some of our successes,
as well. I should also mention, of course, that most of my familiarity is with American
higher ed. I am broadly familiar with changes on this side of the Atlantic in the higher
education system, but you might have to do some extrapolation from some of the things
I’m talking about, to some of the things that you’re experiencing. But I’m sure you’re more
than capable of doing that. Before I move forward, I wanted to give you a 3.5 minute
of the traditional normative university that I’ll be talking about in a moment. Could we
start the video? Well, yeah, obviously he’s doing the parody,
but. But the normative university to which he’s kind of referring, and the parody he’s…the
university he’s doing the parody of really has its roots that go back to the medieval
era, and you can kind of see some of the characteristics here of that traditional model, uni-directional
delivery right from the teacher to the student, concentrated authority in that professor,
spatially fixed knowledge access, meaning that the university is rooted in the soil,
the library at the centre of the university is rooted there, and the university is built
around it, and you’re learning my memorisation and ritualization, and a super long shelf
life for knowledge. In fact, back in the medieval era, since much of the knowledge was religiously
based, the shelf life of the knowledge was sort of eternal, in a way. Oh, what have we
got? Next, oh here we go. Things have really changed today. You can see that the accelerating
mobility here of political concepts, ideas, goods, people and capital, this is just unthinkable,
the rate of change is unthinkable, even to what we had seen 15, 20, 30 years ago. And
a lot of these changes, they just imply radical differences in universities. You can see the
traditional disciplinary basis of the universities really can’t address many of the problems
that we’re beginning to face today. The global systems and the massively networked
world we lived in, these are not really conditions that the normative university was built to
address. So global systems with staggering complexity, they generate problems with this
confounding ambiguity, and this is really the challenge that the universities face today;
how do we create graduates who can confront incredibly complex systemic problems like
the ones our graduates are facing? And a couple of examples — there are so many, but a couple
that are really near and dead to our hearts right now is system economic fragility, we’re
having problems with this on both sides of the Atlantic. Our endowment at our university
in the United States, in 2008, it dropped by about 30%. Savings were wiped out by so
many Americans on this side of the Atlantic; you have experienced much of what we experienced.
Markets are changing, technologies are changing, capital is so fluid; it is a different world,
and we need to be preparing students to address this world. And climate change; one of the
interesting things that I do as Provost to Philadelphia University, it’s very odd; I
get up at four in the morning and I call Snow Days. So this hasn’t been a problem the last
couple of years; there has been no snow in Philadelphia, which is highly, highly unusual. But again, these problems are so big, they’re
so massively networked, they’re so systemic, and it takes a different kind of, sort of,
cognitive habit on the part of graduates to be able to get other collective arms around
them and address them. Now, the emerging model here of what I’m going to call an unbundled
university, it embraces the systemic nature of the problems, and it does this by organising
itself around problem based, trans-disciplinary teaching and learning, and it explicitly builds
curricula around collaborative learning experience, and positions itself as a hub in a network
of knowledge sources. Now, why is the term ‘unbundled’ so, in my view, appropriate right
now for where we are? Unbundled, the traditional model of higher education had a certain group
of logics that cohered it together, and that model is weakening, and as that model weakens,
much of the bits and pieces that were cohered together under that model, they become disaggregated.
We’ll look at this more in a moment, but one of the big themes that I’m seeing emerging
in higher ed today is this idea of disaggregation of services, disaggregation of learning, disaggregation
of credentialing, disaggregation of information, and… Thank you. Let’s catch up here for
a second. We had, as I said, a problem with the monitor. And so the unbundled university leverages
this back then, that knowledge is a commodity, content delivery is no longer the major role
of the university, and the value it adds is about teaching students to critically evaluate
information, synthesize it into knowledge, and apply it in specific contexts that are
often very complex and ambiguous. The unbundled university differentiates itself by bringing
unique added value, beyond delivering content. I’m going to beat a dead horse here for a
moment — the idea of knowledge being a commodity is really central to this model that’s emerging.
So put really simply, you take the university experience overall, you subtract commoditised
knowledge from it, and what’s left over is the added value that the universities bring
to the students. Now, not even so long ago, even today, that content delivery was one
of the major things that we did, and that is changing radically, and we need to adapt
to that. Now, I was at, a few weeks ago, about a month ago, I was at a conference or a symposium
at the University of Pennsylvania, and Daphne Koller was there; she’s the co-founder of
Coursera, of course, one of the big MOOC providers, in fact, the first big MOOC provider, and
someone asked her at some point, “should we be threatened by MOOCs?” And she kind of calmly responded, “the only
institutions, really, that should be threatened by MOOCs are those that specialise in content
deliver”. And it kind of sent, I think, shivers through the room, in a way, because the room
was full of leaders of colleges and universities and administrators, and really, much of what
we do is still about that content delivery. Now you might say, oh, MOOC, it’s not really
a threat to anybody, and I agree with that, by the way. In our current form, I think MOOCs
are very, very immature. There’s a lot of growth and expansion and evolution that still
have to occur with MOOCs. But fundamentally, they are affected in some instances. I was
talking with Phil Rees who also teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. He taught
a MOOC about poetry, interpreting poetry, to 35,000 students. Now, a fraction of them
finished the MOOC, of course, but it was still in the thousands. Now, I asked Phil, “how
was that teaching experience?” And this is a man who has won nearly every award, teaching
award at the University of Pennsylvania. And Al said it was the best teaching experience
he had ever had. He felt the students who persisted through the MOOC got the most out
of the course than any of the students had ever gotten with the…even in the face-to-face
versions. He said he learned more about teaching, he
learned more about pedagogy, he learned more about working with his teaching assistants.
He said it was, in fact, so extraordinary, that another MOOC teacher at the University
of Pennsylvania gets together with him, now, for lunch, and they have, kind of, a MOOC
recovery programme, because it’s such a powerful experience for the instructor, and it’s such
a growing experience for the instructor, that when you stop doing, you feel like you’re
in some sort of withdrawal. Now, when you take, again, this issue of commoditized knowledge,
when you take away commoditized knowledge, or content delivery, that’s the primary thing
that universities do, what do you have left? This guy, Tony Wagner, you can’t see the reference
down here thought, unfortunately, I think, because I have a Mac, it got cut off, but
I really encourage you to see Tony’s talk. You can go on YouTube; it’s a fantastic talk,
about Passion, Purpose, Play, is what it’s called. And what he says in that terrific
little video is, “it’s not what you know, but what you can do with what you know”. And
I would contend that a big part of the added value of the unbundled university, it’s not
about knowledge, it’s not about content, it’s about student agency, it’s about teaching
students to go out there in the world, synthesize what they’ve learned, and apply it to particular
contexts. That’s the high level added value, I believe,
or part of, a major part of the added value that the unbundled university is going to
bring to the world. Bring all this together, and is an emerging model out there; many of
you are familiar, I think, with many of these pieces. Multidirectional delivery, very different
than other universities. Multidirectional delivery; in other words, there are many different
sources of information that the students are choosing from, and the classroom is very porous.
Distributed authority; the teacher now, sort of, caring for mentoring the students. Distributed
knowledge access, again, students are going to go to MOOCs, they’re going to go to con
academy, they’re going to go to atomic learning, they’re going to go anywhere they want to
go to get the information that they need. So what they need to know is how to access
information, and evaluate the information. Active, collaborative learning; the problems
are too big, that we’re facing today, for one brain to get its collective arm…to spread
itself around a single problem. We need a collective brain working together. So collaborative
learning, we’ve heard a lot about that in recent years, but I cannot emphasise enough
how important it is. It can’t be something, also, that we do simply
by putting students in a room and having them work together, and then when it doesn’t work
and they all yell at each other, and the collaboration isn’t as strong as we thought it would be,
we say, “oh, it was good for them. They learned how to work together. They learned how to
get through conflict”. Now, you need to teach them explicitly how to work together, about
working styles, about leadership styles, about how to get along with people who think differently
than you do. But it needs to be explicitly taught, and then reinforced, spiralled through
the entire curriculum, and problem focussed. So, less discipline focussed, and problem
focussed. So there’s a kind of trans-disciplinary aspect to this. Okay, so I’m going to shift
a little bit here; that is really a big question mark. I’m going to shift a little bit here.
One of the things that really strikes me when I travel to conferences and I go to the Provost
round table down in Washington is how my colleagues… I was talking to somebody here in reception
about it, how my colleagues oftentimes just seem, kind of, oblivious, in a way, to the
revolution that’s taking place out there. I mean, it is truly a revolution in the model
of higher ed, and yet, so many academic leaders really seem kind of oblivious to it; they
kind of don’t know what to do. They’re trying to figure it out, and there’s
a tsunami, I see, that’s sort of rolling over, at least the United States right now, and
there’s very little sense of how to deal with it. And I would say no one really knows, but
we need to start experimenting. We need to start thinking about what the unbundled university
is all about. And when you think about unbundling for a moment, I said that normative model
of the traditional university cohered it together, brought the various pieces together, and now
there’s the process of disaggregation that’s going on, on so many levels. Now, you wouldn’t
say that that process of disaggregation, or the unbundled university is a model; it’s
a process, and will continue to drive change in higher education. But we need to develop
a new model that bundles these pieces back together again, in some sort of coherent form
that makes sense for conditions that are emerging today. So we had a bundled university, it’s
unbundling, and we need to invent a model, through experimentation, that puts it all
back together again. And I don’t have the answers for that, but we’re trying; we’re
experimenting. Now, I’m shifting a little bit. I’m going to talk about some frameworks
for changes. I’m trying to sketch, in the broadest possible terms, some of the tectonic
shifts that are going on in higher education. Now, as a shift into looking at Philadelphia
University, I want to look at planning methodologies for a moment. Traditional planning, it uses
clearly defined categories, and by categories I mean things like departments and faculty
appointments, and credits, and schedules, and all that kind of thing. And yes, we all
have to work within that framework sometimes, but I’ll show you in a minute, generative
planning looks at that a little bit differently. It assumes that rational analysis is going
to reveal a clear set of superior options that come from those categories. So we’re
assuming, in traditional planning, you’re assuming a group of categories, and then you’re
trying to kind of reveal the best options that are coming out of those categories. And
it tends to sort of objectify people and categorise them by functional grouping, so we’re looking
at professors, and we’re looking at staff and we’re looking at students, but we’re not
looking at the individuals and the behaviour of individuals that make up that group. And,
it assumes that the environment is relatively noble and relatively stable. And of course,
today, this is just not the case. There’s radical change going on out there. There’s
turbulence and dynamism everywhere. Planning must take that into account. It’s a very,
very different way of looking at how you move change forward. Generative planning, again, my substitution
for design thinking, looks at creating new categories. In other words, it’s open to the
possibility that the traditional categories that we operate in might not be the right
categories. Maybe the credentialing system that we’re currently working with needs to
be changed. Maybe the credit system needs to be changed. And then it looks for incremental
steps to get from here to there. It assumes that analysis and synthesis will provide opportunities
to invent solutions, because you’re not relying on those traditional categories, you can’t
expect any optimal solutions to reveal themselves; you have to open yourself to the idea that
new solutions will be invented. It’s human-centred, it focusses on understanding human behaviour
in context. This is very, very important; so instead of looking at functional groups
of people, professors, students, administrators, constituents, so on and so forth, you’re really
going and you’re observing. You’re looking at how people really, really operate in their
environment. And by observing, I really mean that. I mean getting out there, collecting
data through ethnographic research if you possibly can, or simple observational methods,
and weaving that together with other types of research, but really getting out there
and observing behaviour. And it assumes that the environment is noble
in certain respects, but it’s dynamic and turbulent. In fact, that’s kind of the basis
of generative planning; there’s change, constantly. So the unbundled university is constantly
asking questions about how it adds value, but, and this is important, it does this by
reimagining and redesigning the system itself within which value is created, a very difficult
thing to do. But when you’re looking at creating a new model, you really have to look at the
whole system, not just the categories within the system. That’s the building I work in
at Philadelphia University. This is who we are. We’re a relatively small university,
3,200 students, mostly undergraduates. We have strength in material sciences, competitive
admissions, and a beautiful 40-acre campus. Now, you can just tell by, kind of, looking
at this, we have a very traditional-looking campus, very traditional university, in some
ways, and this is interesting because for many, many years, there was a tacit assumption,
in other words, it was never fully articulated, that the university was making decisions in
order to become a comprehensive university like Harvard or something. And I think, in
the United States, almost every college has a Harvard thing going on. So what happened was, because that tacit assumption
that we were becoming a comprehensive university was never really articulated, it could never
be reframed, and what’s interesting here is that through a strategic planning process,
we were able to, kind of, reach beyond that tacit assumption to look at another tacit
assumption, and that assumption was that we were very innovative. Right? And innovation,
as you all know, is the buzzword of the decade. It really means almost nothing, but there
really was some reason that we would think of ourselves as innovative; historical relationship
with the industry and other non-profits; it was the mix of disciplines that we had, and
how they worked together. But what I want to say is that we took this idea of innovation,
a tacit sort of assumption about who we were, and in order to make it something that we
could plan with, we reframed it as, in our strategic plan, it says, “we will achieve
innovation by creating a college of design, engineering and commerce”. So that tacit attribute
becomes what I call a planning artefact, and the planning artefact is really important
because it’s something that you can actually work with. The community can concretely respond
to it and develop it over time, and become much more aware of what innovation really
means. And so we pursued it, and I’ll show you a
little bit, for the generative planning is all about co-creation, by the way, and we’ll
talk about this in a moment. But when you look at creating the college of design, engineering
and commerce, when you create that planning artefact, you create something that you can
begin to prototype. You can’t prototype a tactic assumption, but you can prototype a
planning artefact. So what we did for the college was, use every possible opportunity
we could to prototype it. We began with a series of workshops, and those workshops looked
at huge issues like aging in place and sustainability. They were consciously trans-disciplinary.
And we brought together students and we brought together faculty from all different disciplines,
to attack the problem together in charettes or intensive multiday workshops. And what
we were doing was prototyping processes about how the faculty would work together, how a
curriculum might work, how classes might be taught. And we did that many times, and continually
iterated the process until it got better and better. So here’s the college; that’s the
new building you can see and by the way, that building was part of the prototyping process,
and from beginning to end, it was 18 months. We spoke to the architects, and then 18 months
later, the building just was there in January; I just thought, “oh, my God, how did we do
that?” And I wanted to talk a little bit about the
college; so, what the college does it, it took three schools and put it together into
one college, and after we did these collaborative exercises for a while, and processes, we realised,
what we wanted to do was to create a coherent curriculum that would include 16 majors, so
we’d have a core curriculum for 16 majors, based, in part, on the prototype processes
that we had developed through those charettes, or intensive workshops together. We also began
to look at issues like appointments, and we began to look at issues of organisational
structure, and again, to prototype those, as well. We diagrammed everything, and with
prototyping, [s.l. things – 0:28:40] seemed to be concrete. So you have this planning
artefact, but you need to get diagrams, you need to make models, you need to do… You
need things that people can respond to. And we, every opportunity that you can possibly
find to prototype, prototype. And I should also mention that those 16 majors, that incorporated
over half of the enrolment for the entire university, so there was a considerable risk
here. We are too issue driven and if the college didn’t work, there would be no university. Now, we’ve reframed a number of issues; as
we developed past those initial charettes, they began to give is some positives how that
core curriculum would come together, and as we put together the core curriculum, concepts,
reframing concepts began to emerge, and I’m going to show you one here. This is one small
thing, but you can see how we prototyped it and we got responses to it from our colleagues
around the country and internally, and we iterated it a number of times. But the idea
here was to look at collaboration and specialisation. Traditionally, you have…and these are undergraduate
students, by the way, 18 years old to 21, 22 years old; traditionally the students start
very broad, and then they specialise, and you can see, as they move through the freshman
to the senior year. And what we saw was that we would then, closer to the senior year when
we had these collaborative experiences that brought all those disciplines together, and
they were project based, and I think this is really typical throughout the world, actually,
they graduate, we have the traditional collaborative course and they’d all learn how to work together
and be happy. In fact, most of the time, or much of the time, they hate each other and
they don’t know how to work together. And then as I said, we’d say, “oh, that was
good for them; they learned how to deal with conflict”. So what we did is we reframed the
whole issue here. We said, “there are these gaps we’ve created through specialisation.
We’ve got to fill those gaps. You can’t have the students only collaborating in their advanced
course. They need to start from the second they walk in the door, and be explicitly taught
about collaboration”. And we were talking, of course, to the industry; this is a professionally
oriented college, so we were talking to industry, and it was interesting; they loved it. This
is the traditional…again, they graduate, they specialise, they graduate, and this is
the condition now. They’re fairly specialised, and then and we have to train them to become
broader. And this was so consistent across so many industries, and we checked this out
again and again and again; they’d say “well, they come in, and then all they can do is,
sort of, these little service roles. There’s kind of a glass ceiling they all hit”. And
so we teach them how to collaborate, and then if they really want to grow into leadership
roles, they need to learn not only to collaborate, but they need to learn how to manage, become
leaders, in a collaborative context, so we love what you’re doing. Now, that simple concept, specialisation and
collaborating, that pervades the entire curriculum for the college, and we again, prototyped
that and integrated it at so many levels throughout the curriculum. And I want to show you real
quick, here; the curriculum goes like this: it starts the freshman year with a course
called Design Process and Integrative Thinking. It moves to a course in the junior year called
Systems thinking. It moves into a course in the…either later in the sophomore year,
or in the junior year, called Business Models; it’s a horrible name for the course; it’s
about how you create value in organisations, and that could be cultural value, political
value, social value, and economic value. And, another course in research methods, observational
research methods, and then there’s a cast out and the majors, then, provide a lot of
courses supporting the core throughout the experience of the student. As you’re doing
this, as you’re moving through this prototyping process and you’re defining your planning
artefacts, and you’re making change happen, it only works if you’re constantly assessing
what you’re doing. If you’re prototyping, you need to have a way to get information
back about the success or the failure of the prototypes that you’re testing. So on a very specific level, you need to get
information about a curriculum, or you need to get information about a building that you’re
building, but you also need to look broadly at the environment that you’re operating in,
and the overall community, if you will, and look at the qualitative, as well as the quantitative,
but in particular, the qualitative aspects. So what we did here is we used a methodology
called action research; I don’t know how many of you are familiar with it, essentially going
out into the field during a period of change, and measuring, longitudinally, how people
perceive the change, based on a number of different parameters. So you’re constantly
going out, you have interviews going on, there were an instrument that was used, an instrument
that’s been well-established, and we asked the community, “do you think, for example,
we’re where we should be with ad hoc planning versus strategic planning? Do you think that
we are too top down, or are we sufficiently collaborative?” And they would rate us, and
we could see those bars, sort of, change over time. One bar indicates where they thought
we should be, and another bar indicates where they thought we were. And fortunately, we did see change over time,
but I wanted to tell you that the action research brought us to this place at a particular moment,
really interesting. I was sitting down with the President during Snow Days, and nobody
was there. So I’d called a Snow Day, that was three ships ago; I called a Snow Day,
and I called the President, and I said “look, nobody’s here, let’s come in and talk”. And
we got a bunch of other people, and we kind of trudged through the snow, and we looked
at the action research, and it revealed, really, if you looked at it, that the community was
like, “okay, we’ve got this college design, we’ve got it, we understand it, but we want
to see it happen. We want it to be concrete”. And we were losing momentum, we thought. We
also thought that people knew much more about it; they thought they knew much more about
it than they really did. There were some real gaps in understanding. So we made a decision.
We were going to build a building now, instead of in a year and a half, or two years. So
really, in the middle of the process of curriculum development, in the middle of the process
of hiring new leadership, we launched the building campaign, and we did that because
we wanted to use the building as a prototype. And it worked brilliantly. I think, of all
the things we did, that was one of the best things we did, because the process of building
a building forced everybody to sit down, look at something concrete, and begin to think
through issues, “how is the curriculum really going to work in here? Are we going to have
faculty have their offices in here, or is a discipline going to own a piece of it? How
is this all going to work together?” And through the iterations of the building plan, the overall
structure of the college came together beautifully, I think, in six or seven months, and there
was a nice play back and forth between the planning and the making of the building. It
drove the architect to absolutely crazy, but it was a wonderful moment for us. So generative
planning, tacit attribute planning artefacts, college design and engineering honours, and
what we did then is, and this is important, too, look for what I call prototyping chains,
throughout the process of generative planning. So if you can scaffold from one little plan
into another, by completing one prototype project, and then applying it to another project,
you can really make progress quickly. Ad what we did was to use the [unclear – 0:37:33]
for design engineering commerce, when it was done, to restructure the entire university
into a system of colleges. It worked so well, it had an internal matrix,
so there was lots of collaboration. They figured, why not just restructure the entire university
into three colleges, have those colleges as parallel structures, and build a matrix, in
other words, have functions that move laterally across all of the colleges, academic and support
functions, as well as vertically. But the prototype was [unclear – 0:38:06]. So we redesigned
the university structure, and one of the things we wanted to do was to create responsiveness
and flexibility and integrate academic planning in the colleges. We reorganised those academic
units into a matrix, and we built innovation into the shared governance system. Once we
restructured the colleges, there were a number of support functions that necessarily had
to happen. That’s another thing; if you’re prototyping, you have to think about what
infrastructure do you need for the prototypes to be successful? So we work through your
faculty to redevelop the shared governance system, and the system that balances the relationship
between the administration and the faculty. So innovation [s.l. seen – 0:38:56] at the
college system; in a moment, I’ll talk more about the shared governance system, but the
transformation imperative up there, the transformation imperative was very important to use, because
it was a series of events that we did over the course of the year, actually multi-years,
at this point, and what it did was it created a space for on-going dialogue and discussion
at the university. So when you’re going through all this massive prototyping and change, you
have to make sure that you’re constantly trying to bring in great voices from the outside,
bring in people. As I said before, you can’t expect yourself to have all the expertise
from inside the model that you’re trying to change. And so we continually brought in people
from the outside to look at issues like distributed credentialing, MOOCs and online education,
peer networks integrated into our curriculum. This is my friend Danny, director of the Stanford
Change Labs, who was director of the Dee school, institutional knowledge is just insufficient
most…much of the time, when you’re doing generative planning. Find thought leaders,
too; find the best people and bring them in, and really… One of the things it does it
to create, also, a network that then helps drive change forward. We have a great network we’ve built out of
the transformation imperative. And also, look outside higher ed, really. Higher ed has a
lot to offer, obviously, but when you’re trying to change the model, there’s a lot of other
sectors that can contribute. I’ll give you an example. There’s a woman, Robin Chase,
and she runs the biggest car-sharing service in the United States. And she’s just started
a new service called BuzzCar in France. And she gave a talk that I attended at the Business
Innovation Factory last fall, and she had the most sensitive nuanced take on the relationship
between a peer network and what it provided, and what an institution or a corporation,
but it also could be a university provided. Now, I just thought, “wow, I need to bring
her to the university, and she needs to talk about this concept”. You can look this up,
too; she does YouTube and she does Ted and all that. So, Robin Chase, and she called
it Peers Incorporated. So we brought her to campus, we did workshops with her, faculty
work with her, and we’ve begun to develop this new framework for integrated peer networks
into the university. And, she came from industry. The academic growth plan I mentioned briefly
earlier, once we’d got the colleges together, again we had to look at the, kind of, infrastructural
support that we would need for the new college system. So in order for the prototype to be
successful, it needed a way for us to academically weave it together. So we created something
called the academic growth planning process. And what that does is, it gets all…many
of the faculties from across all of the university, so all of the disciplines, and they get together
in a charette, or an intensive workshop over a multiday period in the summer, and they
look at our entire academic programme, not just their area, or one other area; they’re
looking at everything all at once, and they’re asking, “where are our strengths? Where are
our weaknesses? Where could we add programmes to bridge functions in order to strengthen
an area? Where can we address deficits? Where are the opportunities for positive change
that will drive together the colleges? This, I should mention, has been a great success.
The faculty loved doing it, and it’s all trans-disciplinary. And we have a number of frameworks we use
that we’ve developed over the years, for the academic growth plan. The main framework is
called Ecosystems, and the Ecosystems, really, they’re not based on disciplines. They’re
based on sort of thematic clusters like sustainability, and we weave course pathways through the ecosystems. All right, so what did I do here? I put the
same slide in twice. The transformation imperative, the academic. The transformation imperative
and the academic growth plan, it came together to create those academic programmes that then
bound together the polished system. The shared governance I mentioned earlier; we built into
the shared governance system something called the curriculum innovation space. So this is
a faculty-led entity, but what it does is, it takes concepts from the academic growth
plan, and incubates them. It brings together functions from across the university and a
whole range of faculty and outside experts, if we need to, and Provost offers to pay for
that, and it incubates concepts over time, over the course of the year, and for launch
and subsequent years. And again, it’s also been…we just launched it last year, but
it’s been a tremendous success. I think I’ve never seen anything like it, at least in American
higher ed. And it seems that it’s very, very popular. Now, we were really hopeful, hopeful,
heavily Photoshopped, we have a long way to go. I’ve spoken to you about all the things
that we’ve done, and the prototyping and the generative planning, and I am proud of what
we’ve achieved, but we have so far to go. I’m less proud, sort of, of what we’ve achieved,
simply because, in my head, I know how far we’ve got to go, but what I’m most proud of
is that we’re trying. [Laughter]. We’re experimenting. We’re taking some risks. We’re doing some
new things. We’re trying to reframe. That’s really what I’m proud of. What is our next
step? Huh, our next step is to look less inwardly. We’ve just begun to, and I think, really,
on this side of the planet, there’s much more going on with the process and all that; the
States, we really don’t have any of that going on yet. We need to look much more externally
for distributed peer networks, really trying to understand different models for our students,
interact with other institutions, credit coordination, a lot of the things that you’re dealing with
right now. .We have four different models or prototype models for partnerships that
we’re working on right now. One is for online. We launched two different prototypes; one
has failed. We’re going ahead with another one, and we’re currently putting together
several others as well, that we’ll evaluate over the course of the next year. So we’ve
been very internal and I think that’s been appropriate; now we have
to turn outward and be very, very external. And I think, actually, that’s existentially,
for us, extremely important. I can’t emphasise that enough. And I wish we could have gotten
to that about a year ago, but the amount of change we were driving, just, we didn’t have
the bandwidth. So, thank you. Appreciate it. Well, thank you very much. What a great way
to open up our conference, just to kind of throw the whole bubble up for grabs, and it’s
fantastic when you hear people actually doing, kind of, research on the job, researching
the whole entire education system. Have we got any questions for Randy? We’ve got some
time for questions. There are microphones going around the room, people carrying microphones
around the room. Please just say your name and where you’re from, before you give your
question. As Randy said, it is actually very hard to see from here. Yes, we’ve got two. Hi. Thanks very much for that, Randy. Sheri
Walker, University of Strathclyde. You mentioned something about an incubation process as part
of your academic growth plan. I wonder if you could say a bit more about what that actually
involves, and particularly how you get staff with existing teaching loads to engage in
taking ideas forward? Well, this is built into the…the beauty
of this is that it’s built…and the importance of it is that it’s actually built into the
shared governance system. So we’re not giving course reductions or anything for this; this
is a subcommittee, if you will; it’s not a committee, it’s structured slightly differently,
but of a new part of the shared governance system, which would be like your curriculum
committee at a normal university, it’s called the Academic Oversight and Opportunities Committee.
The curriculum innovation space is a subunit of that, so the faculty involved in it are
really doing their service, getting credit for their service by being on this subcommittee.
And at our university, most of the fulltime faculty really must serve, in some way, regularly,
in the shared governance system. But your point is very good, in general, because a
lot of this stuff, like during the summer, you’re asking faculty to come in when they
could be doing research, and doing the academic growth planning process. How do we do that?
We pay modest stipends and we give course releases over the course of the year, if we
need to do that. It’s not a lot of money, though. It’s not a lot of money. It’s more
of an honorarium. People do enjoy doing it. Does that answer your question? Hi, and thank you very much for this brilliant
talk; I enjoyed it very much. My name is May; I come from the University of Glasgow. I’m
interested in your comment, students taking initiative in the learning process, and you
mentioned we should encourage students to synthesize what they learnt, in real life,
and I understand that we should encourage students to become more active and more engaged
in the learning process, and one observation from my research is that academics in the
UK tending to feel the pressure of giving more support. Or, even other words, spoon-feeding
the students, due to the culture of consumerism. And I just wonder… And also, we felt the
pressure to be getting more good feedback from students, and I just wonder, could you
suggest how to shift a culture of consumerism towards more interactive learning. Well, it’s just another terrific question,
I mean, and you’re right. I think there is this… And I’m not sure exactly what conditions
this passive consumer of education, sort of, thing that some…we find ourselves dealing
with in the students so much, but I think the way to do it, and the way that we’ve decided
to do it, you can see through the gap, through the specialisation diagram and the collaboration
diagram that we put together, is to grab them right away, right when they come in to college.
They’re put in, at least in the college, which again, is over half the enrolment in our university,
those students are put immediately in a position from, literally, the first day of class, in
a position where they must be actively engaged in their education. They must be. And we’re
prototyping pedagogies that help them to do that. We’re forcing them, for example, to
get out into the community and identify opportunities to make improvements, either in services,
or wherever they want to make improvements, and then coming back and prototyping those.
So they have to be involved. They have to be collaborative. They have to be interactive. And we’re finding, so this is the second year
of that curriculum, and what we’re finding is, those students, this is anecdotal we have
an instrument, but we just don’t have enough information yet, that we use to measure at
the end of each year. But what we’re finding anecdotal is that these students are much
more engaged. They’re much, much less passive, because they’ve been expected to be that way,
really from the moment that they walked in the door. And I think, really, instead of
re-teaching them, that may be one of the only ways to do it, just to grab them right away,
when they come in. But it is one of the biggest challenges, and one of the challenges that
we all face when we’re talking about engaged, project-based, collaborative learning. It’s
all about motivation, isn’t it? It’s all about the students really taking the initiative
and getting in there, and that’s one of the big challenges for us. Thank you. Sure. Any other questions? Yes? Could you say a little bit about…? I’ll
shout, [over-speaking]. Yeah, unless you wait for the mic so that
everyone can… Hi. Thanks. Could you say a little bit more
about the shared governance process, and what it was before, how you changed it, and whether
that had any impact, among other things, on percentage of fulltime faculty versus adjunct
faculty? Because in design programmes, a lot of times, a lot of the faculty are adjunct
faculties; maybe you should talk about the ratio, as well. Yeah. Well, yeah, within the design programme,
particularly in the school of design and engineering, on the design side there is a tremendous amount
on faculty, it hasn’t changed the ratio right now; remember, it’s only been…last year
was our first year of the new shared governance agreement, so everything I’m talking about
is new, in the last three, four years; I’ve only been at Philadelphia University for four
years, but shared governance before was much more, I think, a kind of oppositional…it
wasn’t really shared. It was really, kind of, the faculty wanting this, and the administration
wanting that, and then there was this negotiation that was supposed to occur. Since the faculty
are only really making recommendations to the administration, the administration could
kind of do what it wanted to do. What the new shared governance agreement does is, it
really tries to share power between the faculty, the administration, and the idea there is
that the faculty is not fully engaged with changes at this level, they simply won’t go
along with them, and they won’t lead them, they won’t be part of the creative process
of putting them together. We rely on the faculty to do that. Now, if we were in, sort of, a
governance relationship that was more traditional, more oppositional where you’re, sort of, negotiating
power back and forth, I just don’t think that would work very well. So we’ve created, like, a shared governance
committee that has many, many more administrators and faculty on it. We created our agendas,
now, together. We…there’s much more interaction of the President and with me than there was
before. That’s mandated, really, through the shared governance system, much more accountability
of the administration to us, and accountability of the faculty to the administration, and
everybody is behind this idea of positive changes and experimentation, the idea of putting
a curriculum innovation space into a shared governance agreement is really unusual, but
it sort of speaks to the fact that the faculty felt that this was something we had to do,
it was important to do, and they wanted to make sure that they were front and centre
in doing in, which I completely applaud. So it has really changed the tenor, and it has
changed the feeling of the relationship between the…between us and between the faculty.
There’s much more of an integration now than there used to be. Also just remember, on a
practical level, we had to change it because we didn’t have schools anymore; we have three
colleges, and the entire system was built around schools. Does that answer your question? I have a question, but I won’t ask at this
point; we’ll draw this session to a close, because you all have to get to your workshops,
and whichever sessions, parallel sessions you’re attending. Just to say, for those of
you who are on Twitter, maybe you’d like to start Tweeting about some of the things you’ve
heard today. The Tweet address is hash ET Conference 13, so get on your phones and start
Tweeting. I’d like to thank Randy again for a truly exciting and thought-provoking opening
address to us today. Enjoy your morning. Thank you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *