A model for online advisory and mentoring services, transforming the UOC

17 February, 2021

Since its creation in 1995, the UOC has received and responded to institutional requests to provide support in the improvement and/or development processes of online educational or technology-based models. With the roll-out and implementation of the Strategic Plan 2017-2020, the UOC included advisory and mentoring work as a cornerstone for transferring the UOC model to improve educational systems worldwide.

The advisory service model initially designed by the UOC (pre-COVID-19) was a mentoring model for higher education institutions that required a certain element of on-site work. A team from the UOC’s eLearn Center (eLC) would spend a few days in the institution to be able to work physically by the side of the teams involved in the change of model, from the president’s office team to the academic and administrative teams.

This advisory service model had been used successfully in a number of institutions in Latin America, which had approached the UOC about transforming their on-site model towards a blended or fully online model. In doing so, their hope was to strengthen and develop the institution while enabling more people to access higher education without forgoing educational quality and excellence.

Due to the current COVID-19 health crisis, and with the aim of continuing to mentor institutions in their process of transformation towards hybrid or fully online models, the UOC’s eLC has decided to modify its advisory service in line with the present situation. To do this, it has replaced all the on-site stages with online mentoring that meets all the goals of the on-site advisory service model, ensuring service quality through the use of technology in the hands of expert professionals.

The online advisory service model is designed so that over a period of 14 to 16 weeks the institution is able to identify and describe its educational, organizational and services model. During this time, the key projects that the institution will have to put in place to make the new model effective are also detected and defined.

Based on the experience and new methodological advances that our educational model has offered us with regard to mentoring processes for organizational change, we have created a sequential itinerary of 14 milestones for the successful definition and roll-out of online educational models in institutions.

Online advisory service sequential itinerary: 

These 14 milestones are organized in three clearly defined blocks: the first consists of a series of milestones where work focuses on the aspects that the institution should take into account to put together a new online/blended educational model with clearly defined teaching methods.

Work on the subsequent milestones enables us to analyse the management model that the roll-out of the new model will require. For this, the institution’s current back and front office processes are analysed. Consequently, in the second block, emphasis is on milestones aimed at working on the back office operational elements that occur in an institution’s key chain of processes (academic services, library and resources, teaching roles, quality, etc.), with the aim of adjusting/adapting and/or introducing the changes that the new model calls for.

Finally, the third block centres on the front office operational elements of the key chain of processes (marketing, sales, loyalty, technology, etc.), with the aim of defining the university’s services model, taking online inclusion into account.

The advisory services model offered by the UOC’s eLC tackles three cornerstones that support the model on which every educational institution stands: education, organization and services. The operational strategic analysis of these cornerstones in each institution will be the key to being able to design improvement proposals that ensure the success and quality service of the new model. This is why cooperative work with different layers and managers in the organization is essential, embracing management committees, teaching staff, unit managers and technical experts. It is only when the involvement and clear commitment of an institution’s entire staff is achieved that we can ensure that the changes that need to take place will do so with a guarantee of success.

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