My greatest leadership accomplishment to date has been the launch of OC Global, Odessa College's unique online offering of accelerated and self-paced core transfer courses and completely online Associate Degree programs that allow students to complete a degree on their own schedule.
Odessa College has been offering courses online since the days of the dial up modem. The concept of OC Global grew out of an idea from the college's president, Dr. Greg Williams, about creating a different way for students to attend college. He asked me to spearhead the development of the project, to turn such After two years of planning and testing, in fall 2011 we launched what I believe is an effective approach to an educational environment with asynchronous and synchronous learning opportunities that support a completely online community with parallel academic rigor and resources for students. We spelled out the unique components and advantages of OC Global at a televised press conference.
Course Design as a Form of Leadership
Exercising leadership is more than just assuming a role with a conferred title. There is a need for leadership in every role, at every level of an institution. Serving as Executive Director of OC Global and developing an online college from scratch is certainly a incredible test of leadership and a tremendous administrative accomplishment, but within that I count being able to determine the scope, sequence, look, feel, activities and assessments of every course contained within that college to be the greatest feat of them all because without good courses (and finding good people to facilitate them), there's nothing worth leading at all. To learn more about my course design work, please check out my Skills and Portfolio.
Course Design As a Form of Leadership
The truth is, I design these courses for me. Even though I graduated valedictorian of my high school and attended one of the top universities, Stanford University, I struggled a great deal in school because I’m dyslexic and suffer from extreme Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. To get help in school (which I was deeply ashamed to ask for), I had to apply for accommodations and that was a painful, embarrassing, and long process. So when I began designing courses I made sure to build-in accommodations up-front. No child, no student should have to ask for the help – the instructional scaffolds – that should already be there in the first place.
I'd say I embodied an Distributive Leadership approach, except I think the term is misleading. On one hand, the word distributed means that power or control is centrally located and is spread out from there, which means it rests principally in the hand of one body (man, woman, group). On another hand, to be distributed means that something, i.e., leadership, occurs throughout an area (New Oxford American Dictionary, 2011
). I practice form of leadership that does both: a leadership style that is collaborative, interactive and integrative and at the same time recognizes the principal nature of leadership - that the buck (vision, decision, etc.) stops and begins somewhere.
I have participated in many wonderful leadership training workshops, classes and seminars. The most recent experience was with Leadership Odessa
, a year-long training seminar sponsored by the Odessa, TX Chamber of Commerce. This leadership training opportunity is unique in that you learn how and what it takes to be a leader by learning about the community. The training consists of day-long thematic field trip to various corporate and civic organizations. For example, on Education and Media day, we visited one of the local elementary school and both of the city's higher education institutions (Odessa College
). We also toured the city's only major newspaper outlet, the Odessa American and one of its three local television stations, CBS 7 KOSA
. At each place we were greeted by and spoke with the leaders of those institutions. Each day was an amazing experience in the most subtle way: Learning the history of a city and its people is one of the most important things (and should be the first thing) you can do to serve and be a leader. The Odessa Leadership training is actually a two year commitment. After you're graduated from the program, the following year you are required to help organize and attend leadership visits for the class coming after you. Talk about passing it on!