UMass Amherst Flexible Learning Task Force Releases Final Report
The Flexible Learning Task Force at UMass Amherst has released its final report, the result of three months of intensive discussion among the 56 task force members and extensive consultation with the campus community. The report makes 39 specific recommendations and implementation steps to campus leadership from across five task force subgroups: Instruction, Pedagogy and Technology; Student Experience and Equity; Workload and Support; Finances; and Academic Calendar, Registration and Facilities.
Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy appointed the Task Force to develop a strategic plan that advances UMass Amherst’s ability to provide high-quality education to students anywhere and at any time, a key to both extending the mission of the university and meeting tomorrow’s challenges in the educational marketplace. The task force was co-chaired by Jim Kurose, distinguished professor of computer science and associate chancellor for partnership and innovation, and Mzamo Mangaliso, associate professor of management.
Mangaliso said, “The student learning experience, broadly defined, and the faculty and staff expertise needed to realize that have always been front and center in our task force discussions. We were also focused on ensuring equity, inclusion, access, and diversity in flexible learning programs. I think you’ll find these issues woven throughout the report.”
Kurose noted, “Our report recommendations range from near-term actions that can be undertaken immediately to longer-term programmatics that require further planning, consultation and experimentation. In many ways the report’s recommendations build on our campus strengths and broaden and accelerate opportunities in directions that early adopters have been moving towards for some years now. Flexible learning can combine our campus’s excellence in traditional face-to-face teaching and on-campus learning with technology to provide opportunities for our students who may not always be able to be present on campus.”
The task force, appointed by Subbaswamy in February 2021, was specifically charged with “drafting a strategic plan that will articulate a vision of future flexible learning for our campus; guiding principles and goals; and analysis of our campus’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats with respect to flexible learning; recommended action/implementation steps and possible timelines; and success indicators.” The task force drew it 56 members from broadly across campus, including faculty, students, staff and campus administrators.
The final task force report concludes by noting that the implementation and development Flexible Learning will be an on-going process, with much work, and much opportunity, ahead.
For additional resources, the final and interim reports, as well as readings of interest, visit www. www.umass.edu/chancellor/flexible-learning.