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Planning a Successful Affordable Learning Solutions Initiative.

Article by Gerry Hanley, Ph.D., Chief Academic Officer, Partner in Publishing

I have spent more than a decade designing and deploying Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) programs for many higher education institutions. In that time, I have learned a few lessons and as I pass them on to you, I hope they will help you set a solid foundation for your own AL$ initiative.

Every campus has their unique characteristics, organizations, and personnel that you can leverage. Before you begin, reflect on your current institutional readiness and consider how to build upon your existing capabilities. Once you have completed that critical assessment, there are two initial steps your institution and communities of stakeholders can take to gain the necessary support across campus and achieve successful outcomes from your AL$ program.

First, executive leadership is critical for setting institutional priorities, allocating resources, and sustaining an AL$ program. Your campus president, provost, and/or associate vice provost need to play a key role in identifying AL$ as a campus priority. As a campus priority, people’s time, energy, and financial resources will be allocated to the initiative. As described in the first posting about AL$, align your AL$ strategy with your university’s mission and existing strategic priorities. The following topics should be regularly included in your president’s and provosts’ communications and published statements.

a. College Affordability
b. Improving access to education
c. Outreach to diverse communities
d. Supporting upward mobility
e. Improve student success and graduation rates

AL$ can be an initiative to help your campus achieve its current priorities!

Second, and of equal importance, project management and a project manager/coordinator are critical for the effective and collaborative implementation of an AL$ program. Ideally the manager/coordinator of the AL$ project would come from a campus unit that is capable and motivated to manage such a program. Ask yourself:

  • Could it be the Library, Academic Technology Department, Faculty Development Office, Bookstore, Student Services & Financial Aid, or elsewhere?
  • Within that campus unit, is there a person who has the passion to manage the program and the trust among other stakeholders on campus to facilitate people’s participation?

You’ll need an AL$ manager/coordinator who can work with, and collaborate with leadership from all parts of your institution, including faculty, students and the executive office. The more representation an AL$ committee has from multiple stakeholder groups, the more productive the committee will be at building partnerships across campus divisions. Your AL$ manager/coordinator should also be someone who can manage the process of setting (GO-AL$) and measuring progress. These are key elements of project management (along with many others). Together, all the members of your AL$ team can help set reasonable goals (GO-ALS) for different groups on campus. This way, everyone can contribute to
achieving the GO-AL$ and share the credit too.

Want to learn more? Review the recorded webinar (25 minutes) to answer some of your questions.

Want to get started on your own AL$ program? We are here to help move from a wish to a plan of action. Please contact us at AL$@partnerinpublishing.com if you’d like to explore how you can lead your institution on the Affordable Learning Solutions journey.