University of Maryland

A2A 2013

MOOCs, Flipping the Classroom, and Transformation of Higher Education: Building Bridges from the Academy (of Management) to the Academy 

Online and August 10, 2013 (prior to the Academy of Management Annual Meeting)
Lake Buena Vista (Orlando), FL USA

Recent innovations have generated considerable discussion about the transformation of higher education. Massively open online courses (MOOCs) run by entrepreneurial startups using social media to provide educational experiences for thousands of students. Open courseware repositories and learning platforms for “flipping the classroom”, moving exposition online and experiential, group activities into the classroom. Market and social pressures driving traditional educational institutions to simultaneously increase scale, reduce costs, and continually innovate. Seemingly constant change, presents unknown consequences for the work, practices, positions, and identity of faculty, staff, and students. Waves of technological, pedagogical, and institutional innovation are either fundamental transformations or distracting fads.

These forces affect us in many ways.  As faculty, changes in higher education directly affect our work, professional identity, and personal well-being. As educators, new technologies and institutional arrangements create new opportunities and constraints for working with students. As leaders, changing competitive environments affect the viability and health of our institutions and the choices we make about regulatory structures, joint-ventures, personnel, and investments.

At the same time, researchers have studied exactly the kinds of issues we are observing in higher education, but in other settings. Disruptive technologies; implications and development of knowledge and information repositories; institutional and inter-organizational competitive dynamics; individual, group, organizational, and population learning; the strengths and limitations of virtual teams; the dual nature of structure and routines; tensions between immediate adaptation and long-term viability; and the nature of work practices in knowledge-intensive organizations. These are just a few areas in which we have conducted research relevant for understanding and managing the ongoing transformation of higher education.

Although there is an extensive body of relevant knowledge, collectively we rarely make critical connections back to the ongoing discussions about the nature and future of higher education. In spite of this, discussions about higher education transformations are often based on anecdotes, opinion, and isolated experience of commentators, activists, and pundits –leaving faculty, students, administrators, and policymakers even more confused about what they should expect and prepare for in the future.

A2A Workshop Objectives and Deliverables

The purpose of the Academy (of Management) to Academy Workshop (A2A) is to build connections between state-of-the-art management, organization studies, and information systems research and the policy, institutional, and professional discussions prompted by the ongoing transformation of higher education. By making these connections more explicit we seek to:

  • Help participants better understand and explain the trends affecting their organizations
  • Provide high-value entry points into the management research literature for leaders grappling with organizational, institutional, and technological changes in higher education
  • Identify opportunities for advancing the study of institutional, strategic, and technological change in knowledge-intensive environments by highlighting issues in higher education that are not well addressed by existing theory or empirical work

To achieve these objectives, the A2A Workshop will focus on the development of a set of 1-2 page briefs that build strategic connections between issues in higher education and current management, organization, and information systems research. Each brief will consider a specific issue or trend (e.g. the implications of online education for faculty work-life balance; the strategic implications of MOOCs for state universities; etc.); identify 3-4 published studies that provide theoretical and empirical bases for understanding and addressing the issue; and provide a short statement of how that work can be used to understand, explain, and respond to the focal issue.

The completed briefs and a summary of directions for new research will be made publically available through the website of the Center of the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) at the University of Maryland.   Other publication outlets (conference paper, journals, etc.) will be pursued based on the interest workshop participants.

Applying for and Participating in the A2A Workshop

To apply for the A2A Workshop, prepare a short (1-2 page) position paper describing a specific issue in higher education, why it is important, and how management, organizational, and/or information systems scholarship is relevant for that issue.  For full consideration please submit your position paper to the A2A co-coordinator by (Brian Butler) at by May 10th, 2013.

All applicants will be invited to participate in the A2A blog. This blog/wiki will contain regular posts that highlight current issues in higher education and relevant management research.

Selected applicants will be invited to join a ½ day Professional Development Workshop (PDW) session on August 10th from 8am – 12pm (prior to the Academy of Management Annual Meeting).  At this session we will work in groups to refine the focal issue statements, select the relevant theories/concepts/papers, collaboratively create initial drafts, and engage in comment and on-the-spot revision of the briefs.

While the specific issues considered will emerge from the submitted position papers and online discussions, possible topics include (but are not limited to):

  • Change management and leadership in academic centers and departments
  • Mentoring at a distance
  • Intrapreneurship and autonomy in publically funded institutions
  • Virtual teams and organizations for research
  • Design of learning management systems to support learning analytics
  • Differential competitive dynamics in heterogeneous/homogeneous organizational fields
  • Disruptive technologies in public organizations
  • Educational institutions as a site of knowledge work
  • Practice theories of technology and innovation
  • Organizational and community learning about MOOCs
  • Team and individual performance and behavior in turbulent environments
  • Learning analytics and continuous improvement
  • Identity and innovation in small colleges
  • Sociomateriality and educational institutions
  • Dynamics of groups and communities in open learning environments
  • Professional identity and “alternative” employment arrangements
  • Bureaucracy, institutions, innovation, and identity in state universities

For more information about the A2A Workshop please contact the A2A Workshop Coordinators, Brian Butler (, June Ahn (, and Susan Winter ( or check out the materials available at:

The Academy (of Management) to Academy Workshop is supported by the Center of the Advanced Study of Communities and Information (CASCI) at the University of Maryland iSchool.