The Online University App: Blending "Rah-Rah" and Success Measures:

Companies use various means to create and stir the workforce to be engaged, productive and happy. Left alone or to their own devises, the administrative assumption is that they would just drift, be undirected, and lack purpose. So clearly, interventions are called for. HR has to find the means and ways to animate and align employees with company objectives to achieve unity of focus and enhance productivity.

But that is not enough. Accountability has to be factored in. Targets have to be established and ways found to track and measure progress toward goals. This can’t be solely "rah-rah" and group rant. This is serious business. Results have to be shown; there must be accountability; there must be documentation.

Of late, the two favorite devices often used in tandem are cheerleading and metrics. But one size does not fit all; the extent of each often varies greatly and tells us much about the shaping of different work cultures. Below is case study of blending online universities.

Even when non-profit, the modern online university behaves like a corporate creation, especially in the typical way it uniquely mixes rah-rah and success measures. Whatever the occasion—a successful financial quarter or new recruiting challenges—chairs, deans, vice presidents, even presidents gush—they are almost besides themselves in praising this marvelous and indispensable faculty without whom success would not have been possible.

In the process they, in martyred fashion, minimize their own roles. They focus instead on three larger ends: producing the leaders of the next generation; singly out the enormous contributions of online learning itself; and servicing current and emerging global markets.

But generally, online universities are not adventurous or innovative. They break no new curriculum grounds nor cut across academic lines seeking more inclusive coherence. The focus remains totally on the metrics of the bottom lime, the two ultimately becoming versions of each other.

Meanwhile, how does the faculty react to the celebration of their indispensability? Generally they don’t. They find it boring, and terribly familiar. They endure it. Not so the elaborate metrics set up to measure 24-7 some ten activities of their online teaching. The faculty calls the system Big Brother, impersonal, omnipresent, relentless. Metrics do or die-- determining who shall teach and who shall not.

In this environment, the HR training role has become paramount. No one is assigned a course without an extensive multi-week examination of the courseware, especially the operations of Big Brother. But as technology becomes more ubiquitous, clever and invasive; inevitably the ante of tracking is upped to the point where daunting complexity becomes the norm. Rather than seeking to reduce such proliferation, new forms and checklists are trotted out to manage all the hoops and milestones. You need to become a machine to keep up with and track the machine. Not surprisingly teaching becomes increasingly automatic and mechanical.