Written by: Sylvia Eastman
Trust, talent, agility — they’re the core factors that Southern New Hampshire University’s Tracey Osborne and Amy Stevens credit to the success of their multi-year partnership with eLearning Innovation.
Osborne, now SNHU COCE’s Assistant Vice President of Instructional Design, and Laurie Pulido, now President of eLearning Innovation (EI), originally began as coworkers at SNHU in 2006. Their time spent as colleagues created an easy transition when eLearning Innovation took on SNHU as a client in 2010.
As demand for SNHU’s programs and courses continues to surge, and eLearning Innovation’s capabilities continue to expand, the partnership — and the trust — grows with it. “We know we can continually count on eLearning Innovation,” says Osborne, “EI is our right arm.”
Steven’s, SNHU COCE’s Associate Vice President of eLearning, says: “Whatever we throw at EI, they can handle. They proved this on the grade book project.” Pulido elaborates, “It was the spring of 2012, and most of our work until then had been new course development. Amy called one afternoon with an urgent project that required us to work within a tight timeframe, updating about 150 courses for the impending term, and making related changes to the grade center in Blackboard. It was a real challenge as the changes required a nuanced understanding of the instructional design underpinning each course, so we had to make a quick but highly accurate assessment and then implement it.” Team members from eLearning Innovation and SNHU worked hand-in-hand, with EI’s instructional design and production team making the necessary updates and SNHU setting priorities and facilitating academic approval of the changes.
eLearning Innovation is an essential partner in SNHU’s course development process, with a devoted team of course and project managers, editors, administrators, and instructional designers. Osborne describes EI’s strengths: “Talent, experience, customer service.” Having a skilled and responsive team is always at the forefront for Pulido and EI continually hires and develops the talent required to provide quality service to SNHU. Pulido explains: “We’ve designed a comprehensive internal training program. The training ensures that the growing team working on the SNHU project can benefit from the years of experience EI has devoted to the partnership. So new team members are exposed to that depth of experience. And beyond that, we are always learning from SNHU — high student engagement, strong alignment, authentic assessment — SNHU courses have many strengths. We hope we are contributing to those strengths but we are also learning from them and that learning cycles back into our team training, which feeds into our ability to provide excellent service.”
Steven’s agrees: “We love the training that EI has put together to support their team. It’s truly a win-win.”
Always thinking ahead, Pulido’s using the internal training as a testing ground for a new elearning solution that capitalizes on EI’s strengths in integrating sound pedagogy with technology.
“SNHU has to stay 3 to 5 years ahead of what students’ want and need for their career. We are ever-changing and EI has held on to that agility and keeps coming back for more,” says Stevens. “You think of agile as being able to move quickly and easily and that’s true,” notes Pulido, “but you need the structures in place to support that. For starters, you have to have a talented and devoted team – and we have that, but we also cross-train people to allow flexibility with work assignments.” On EI’s SNHU team for example, instructional designers are trained to serve as managers and editors are trained to double as IDs. “Second,” Pulido continues, “we have a high regard for transparency. When you have to act quickly, you make better decisions when you have all the facts, when all the cards are on the table. Third, we foster an environment of collaboration and cooperation. Getting a course designed and delivered on time and with a high degree of quality is everyone’s job. If something impedes that then it’s all hands on deck until we’re back on track.” The last ingredient is the ability to listen. Pulido says, “We strive to truly understand our clients and their needs. If you understand what a client wants and have the structures that support agility in place, you are willing and able to adjust your process to theirs.” Osborne sums it up nicely: “EI bends over backwards for us, no matter what.”