The University has chartered an Educational Innovation Task Force to examine the future of higher education and ACU’s role in being at the forefront of innovation.
The task force was originally formed in 2016 at the behest of the Senior Leadership Team. This task force is a result of the current plan entitled, In Christ and in Unity: Our Vision in Action, developed by the university for 2016 until 2021. The task force is made up of representatives from all the colleges and has a three year charge.
Dr. Gregory Straughn, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, chairs the task force as they methodically examine ACU’s potential next steps in developing a new model of undergraduate education as laid out in the Strategic Plan. The university and task force believes that the innovation of the future will revolve around increasing efficiency and finding more creative uses of technology in the classroom.
Regarding innovation, the Strategic Plan states, “We are committed to a rigorous, exciting undergraduate educational experience and a deep and broad offering of dynamic, respected graduate programs. We value innovation, critical thinking and academic exploration. We will continue to focus on our calling and responsibility to teach, research, mentor and serve.”
Straughn said the task force came away from last year having identified four areas of interest regarding innovation at the university. The task force will spend the next two years focusing on the role of faculty, the future of the credit hour, experiential learning and competency based education.
“Last year we spent a good deal of time getting a landscape for what innovation looks like right now in higher education,” Straughn said.
Initially, Straughn and his team found that the future of the credit hour will include more online and accelerated courses. However, Straughn stressed the irreplaceability of the community aspects of ACU, noting that online courses will always be nothing more than one component of the ACU experience.
Straughn said he and his team have looked to a number of universities as examples of innovation, in particular, Dallas Baptist University, Houston Baptist University and Azuza Pacific. They’re also examining schools outside of ACU’s normal sphere of influence, such as Southern New Hampshire and Washington University.
“I don’t think we’re limited to people that look like us or people we want to be like,” Straughn said. “We’re just looking at what does it mean to innovate right now and what will it look like in 10 years”
Ultimately, regarding the task forces future work, Straughn said the task force is excited for the future and glad the university continuously looks at innovation.