The demand for chief online learning officers (COLO) has risen dramatically over the past two decades. The result is almost all institutions of higher learning now have a COLO, COO, or another professional with a similar title. Therefore, the top responsibility of today’s COLO is to help academic departments coordinate online services. Other duties include curriculum design, LMS administration, online policymaking, and budgeting. Many COLOs are also in charge of student/faculty training. Most importantly, institutions that require instructors to collaborate with curriculum designers experience higher student-faculty interaction. In the future of online learning, chief online learning officers can expect the following five trends to shape their roles and responsibilities.
Realize Collaboration Is Essential to Manage Online Learning
Besides that, most COLOs collaborate with chief information officers (CIOs) to provide optimal services. The roles of each of these professionals often overlap. Therefore, colleges should define the duties of the COLO vs. the CIO, so faculty and administration know who to turn to for help, questions, and training.
COLOs Should Prepare for the Growth of Hybrid Learning
Therefore, hybrid learning is expected to increase. While it’s no surprise the pandemic skyrocketed the need for online learning, a majority of colleges and universities plan to continue offering remote learning for courses that previously weren’t offered online. This change is in conjunction with on-site course offerings — a hybrid approach to learning. Thus, students can develop social skills, soft skills, and hands-on learning experiences through in-person interactions with instructors and peers.
COLOs Help Prepare Lifelong Learners for Online Learning
In addition, the role of the COLO is essential in developing opportunities for individuals to be lifelong learners. Students who succeed in online learning — which takes self-motivation, inner drive, and ambition — are more likely to succeed in business, so they are well-prepared to handle business disruptions.
Create Partnerships Between Higher Education and Businesses
Moreover, COLOs can seek partnerships with businesses. Corporations and higher ed institutions notice the benefits of collaboration, to provide training opportunities for America’s workforce. Businesses value partnering with colleges and universities to train or pre-skill their future workforce, provide certifications, and upskill their current employees. At the same time, higher ed institutions benefit by knowing how to develop their course offerings to meet business needs. These offerings will help the workforce to stay gainfully employed.
Know That Workers Are Seeking Credentials for Business Needs
Because of these partnerships, workers have the opportunities to build skills to advance in their careers. Lifelong learning is the antidote to bridging the skills gap. Today’s workers are looking for online learning programs to get the credentials they need to remain viable and marketable, and COLOs are pivotal in creating and providing these opportunities.
In summary, both higher ed institutions and corporations continue to demand online learning opportunities to support lifelong learning and maintain a viable, competitive workforce. Hybrid learning ideally combines course offerings, striking a balance between virtual and in-person education. And as COLOs collaborate with CIOs and work closely with faculty and students, they are essential to curriculum design, training, troubleshooting, and advancing online learning.