I selected the Detailed Business Plan because it was incredibly challenging, but amazingly rich in learning rewards. In order to satisfy the criteria for the assignment, it was necessary to develop a detailed business plan for a distance education unit that included:
- business structure
- management considerations
- infrastructure requirements
- personnel requirements
- strategic plan
- multi-year strategic goals
- financial plan including start-up budget, annual income projections and cash-flow statements
- marketing plan
- Balanced Scorecard to indicate success measurements
- resources for implementation
The final plan utilized work from the previous assignments allowing ongoing development and refining of the original business plan ideas. The business plan also needed to be written in a format suitable for the business setting for which it was designed. In this case, that meant using templates and budget sheets commonly used at the college (6.1, 6.2, 6.3, 6.4, 6.5).
Artefact 3 Link
The following competencies were developed during the process of completing the Detailed Business Plan assignment.
|1. Problem Solving, Analysis, & Decision Making|
|1.2.||Define the aspects of problems|
|1.4.||Find and access information|
|1.5.||Critically evaluate the relevance of information for a given situation|
|1.6.||Compare alternatives using critical analysis|
|1.7.||Make reasoned arguments using critical reflection, leading to rational solutions.|
|1.8.||Justify these solutions|
|1.9.||Present them to others|
|2. Instructional Design & Development|
|2.1||Critically analyze and discuss the implications of personal perspectives and epistemological orientations for the teaching-learning process|
|2.2||Appropriately apply systems theory and systems analysis techniques to instructional design situations in distance education|
|2.7||Apply instructional design principles and models in distance education, in your workplace, or in other instructional contexts|
|3. Communication Technologies and Networking|
|3.2||Analyze and evaluate the various applications and implications of these technologies|
|3.3||Justify the applications of these technologies in real-life contexts on the basis of theory and research|
|3.4||Compare and evaluate the relative advantages and disadvantages of these technologies in various distance education contexts|
|4. Communication & Interpersonal Skills|
|4.1||Write clearly and in a style appropriate to purpose (e.g. assignments, essays, published documents, and theses)|
|4.2||Construct coherent arguments and articulate ideas clearly to a range of audiences, formally and informally, through a variety of techniques and media|
|4.3||Justify and defend your ideas orally and in writing in meetings, forums, seminars, exams and other contexts|
|4.4||Support the learning of others when involved in teaching, mentoring, moderating, collaboration or demonstration activities|
|4.5||Participate and contribute effectively in collaborative group activities|
|4.6||Demonstrate effective design, delivery and critical evaluation of presentations, computer conferences, or seminars|
|4.7||Work cooperatively with diverse groups and individuals both within the university and/or in the workplace|
|4.8||Organize, and convey your ideas effectively through a range of communication skills and work collaboratively and in teams.|
|5.6||Summarize and synthesize information with a view to pursuing deeper understanding|
|5.7||Effectively communicate information, arguments, and analyses in the discipline of Distance Education, in a variety of forms, to suit different contexts and audiences|
|5.8||Critically analyze the issues and discuss the wider implications affecting the use of information|
|5.9||Conduct effective interviews for research purposes|
|5.11||Describe and adhere to ethical practices and institutional policies throughout the research process.|
|6. Management, Organization and Leadership|
|6.1||Analyze the current and future climate of the distance education and distance learning industry, and formulate strategies to respond to that climate|
|6.2||Describe and analyze the business and administrative functions in distance education organizations and critically discuss how business decisions affect financial and non-financial work results|
|6.3||Make considered recommendations regarding the selection of appropriate learning technologies and assure that these selections meet organizational needs|
|6.4||Outline and critically compare the relative costs of appropriate technology-based communications methods in distance education and ensure that the organization is receiving a good return on investment|
|6.5||Manage workload, other commitments, and information needs within time and structural constraints (in both personal and team management situations)|
I've selected this artefact because I believe it was a very difficult assignment and one that connected my theoretical learning to my actual workplace demands (5.6). This was a real project, one with real potential, involving real students, real constraints and real interactions with administrators (5.7). This was not a hypothetical assignment, but rather one that I tackled with the intention of actually implementing it in the future (6.1). I had never been involved in the business planning aspect of anything in my role as professor before, so everything about this assignment was entirely new to me (4.7).
This assignment was incredibly challenging due to my lack of experience, knowledge and business skills. I knew absolutely nothing of business planning and struggled to simply get my head wrapped around the bigger picture. It required many communications, skype-sessions and feedback from my professor to complete the work (4.3, 4.7). I was incredibly grateful for the opportunity to rewrite and resubmit each element of the assignment toward the end goal of completing an acceptable business plan.
At first, I continually came up with a program-based business plan rather than designing a distance-education unit for an overall organization, which was required by the assignment. I couldn't see past my own program to envision the scope and scale of a distance education unit. It wasn't until I submitted incorrect work and made my way through the feedback that I was able to begin to consider the overarching nature of the assignment outcomes. Once it started to take shape in my mind, I interviewed administrators, program directors and distance education coordinators in my organization to become even more familiar with the nature of distance education units (4.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.11). As I began to understand more about what was available in the college, and what was not, I started to see the need and opportunity for a Distance Education Division in the School of Human Services (6.1). This became the focus for my final plan, and the artefact showcased in this portfolio.
The assignment required me to actually interview the people in charge of these types of decisions in my area and I had to research actual costing information, divisional procedures and budget protocols in order to develop a viable plan (4.7, 5.8, 5.9, 5.11). This process was not easy as many of the people I interviewed were understandably reluctant to share actual budget numbers and were skeptical of my plan to develop this new division. This meant that I had to not only ask questions, but also arrive prepared to explain, justify and convince various players of the importance, need and potential gains that the project would bring to the school (4.2, 4.3, 5.7, 5.9). I was working on this assignment back in 2013 and presented the final plan to the Chair of my division (4.8). At the time, she was supportive of my education but was not interested in considering the unit for actual implementation. As I prepare this reflection, just two years later, I'm delighted to report that the Chair contacted me while on my sabbatical and asked me to consider taking on a new role, that of E-Learning Coordinator for the School of Human Services. I am convinced that this role would not have been offered to me had I not presented her with this detailed business plan for distance education. I believe it demonstrated my interest, but more importantly that I have adequate training to contribute to the overall distance education aims of our school. I very much look forward to beginning this new role in the fall when I return to work. .
Even though this assignment was probably the most trying assignment I've ever done, I'm incredibly proud of the results. I learned so much along the way, lessons that continue to inform my work and assessment of other developments and proposals in my workplace. I will likely get to implement much of this business plan in my workplace and may even be able to grow the plan to include other schools within the college.