28th Annual WCET Meeting: A View from the Road


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I’m just back from the 28th WCET conference and want to share some highlights with you. WCET is the leader in the practice, policy and advocacy of technology-enhanced learning in higher education. WCET is a national, member-driven, nonprofit which brings together colleges and universities, higher education organizations and companies to collectively improve the quality and reach of e-learning programs. WCET held its 28th annual meeting in beautiful Minneapolis, Minnesota, my home state. We featured our best fall weather and scenery for the many guests.

I find that WCET is a place to go to see visioning of the future of higher education. Sessions included: Building for Tomorrowland, Competency-based Education, Adapting to Adaptive Learning, The Price and Cost of Distance Education, When Innovation and Reality Collide, the UCF Online Student Performance Dashboard, Open Educational Resources, 21st Century Credentials, CBE and Closing the Employment Gap, The Higher Education Act: Legislation and Regulations, and Change is Hard: Manage it Well. What a great line up.

rob robinson and colleen carmean

My colleague Rob Robinson joined Civitas partner Colleen Carmean from University of Washington, Tacoma (pictured here) to present on Connecting the Dots via Data Analytics: Painting a Picture of Student Success. They had a lively session discussing the changes needed on the campus to build and sustain a student success environment supported by predictive data. They pointed out the need for new roles and skill sets to understand — and value — taking data to insights and action. They told the story of connecting these dots of data through the lens of pointillist George Seurat. Colleen and I will be presenting on What Leaders Need to Know in the Age of Analytics at AASCU in November. Plan to come see us in Miami during our session if you’re attending. We love the opportunity to speak about the work together with our partners!

WCET 2016 conference reflections
linda baer presenting at wcet

Back to WCET, I co-presented the workshop on Optimizing Student Success Should be Your Institution’s #1 Strategy. We set the stage for building organizational capacity to use data more effectively. We talked about student success strategies supported by powerful analytics and predictive tools that move campuses from basic descriptive data to future-oriented insight to action. Last year, I facilitated a panel with WCET on Student Success and Data Analytics in Practice. Beth Mulherrin, from our partner UMUC, decided we should repeat the session with a focus on where we are one year later, discussing what processes, policies, practices and challenges were met over the last year. This kind of session is important to show how we talked about these issues last year and together, we have made progress through strategies and hard work. It also reinforces that building the capacity to use data and analytics is a journey that takes sustained effort and strong leadership.

My third session was on Thriving in Challenging Times: Building Transformative Leadership Skills. My colleagues and I focused on the ABCs of transformative leadership including As: accountability, analytics, and authenticity; the Bs in building bold business models; and the Cs featuring culture, collaboration and courage. If you missed the session, you can read more about the ABCs in this story from the Civitas Learning Space.

This was an energizing conference with great conversations, presentations and opportunities to network for change. Thank you WCET! See you on the road.

Dr. Linda Baer

Dr. Linda Baer is a consultant with Civitas Learning. She has served more than thirty years in numerous executive level positions in higher education. She was the interim vice president for Academic Affairs at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Previously, Dr. Baer served as a Senior Program Consultant in Post-secondary Success with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and as Senior Vice Chancellor of Academic and Student Affairs in the Minnesota State College and University System. She was Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs and Interim President at Bemidji State University. Dr. Baer presents nationally on academic innovations, educational transformation, the development of alliances and partnerships, the campus of the future, shared leadership and building organizational capacity in analytics.

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