Digital futures at ACU

A message from Executive Dean (Faculty of Law and Business), Professor Therese Joiner:

Online education is burgeoning worldwide, motivated in response to changing student demand and enabled by technology enhancements and wider internet access.

The pandemic has served as an accelerant for online learning demand. The ACU community of scholars and professional staff demonstrated extraordinary agility and innovation in the application of newfound (for many) digital learning design and tech skills in the move to offer online courses to existing students. New students seeking new or updated skill sets were well served by the Tehan-inspired fully online short courses.

Post-pandemic online teaching and learning is here to stay, complementing existing face-to-face and blended learning. At ACU, digital learning is interwoven in the Education Strategy and it is one of the four objectives outlined in ACU’s Innovation Strategy. Most importantly, online digitally enhanced offerings extend reach and access to education consistent with ACU’s Catholic mission.

I am excited to be working with Andrew Vincent (Director, Digital Education), Anthony Whitty (Director, Learning and Teaching Centre) and a team of knowledgeable experts to select and work with an online program manager (OPM) partner to further build ACU’s digital education presence quickly and at the scale required to make an impact.

Progress has been made.

Following the tender preparation and release, four credible OPMs submitted an application and two of these progressed to presentation phase. The ACU Evaluation Panel determined that one OPM demonstrated strong potential to partner with ACU.

The OPM discovery and negotiation phase is the next step. Part of that negotiation will include discussions on the financial elements and the suite of course offerings – existing and new. An extended group of ACU subject-matter experts from directorates and faculties will provide further input to help inform the roadmap for successful OPM delivery. The discovery and negotiation phase will likely last 2-4 weeks. I am hopeful of a decision very early in the new year.

Andrew and I were very grateful for the feedback from the ACU community at the various faculty/directorate and campus meetings as part of the consultation phase on the ACU Innovation Strategy – Digital Education Change Plan. The exchanges were very useful in helping us think through future decisions and considerations for successfully embedding an OPM. We look forward to further conversations in the new year as we move together to expand engaging learning opportunities for ACU students who want to study anywhere, anytime.

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