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Strategic planning at the state’s education institutions serving “open and distance education”, which are of non-profit concern

In conventional education process, there have always been certain obstacles throughout the human history. From that point of view, “Open and Distance Education” are the ones which are much more sensitive to quality and to the dissemination of
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   174 Turkish Online Journal of Distance Education-TOJDEJanuary 2007ISSN 1302–6488, Volume: 8 Number: 1 Article: 14   STRATEGIC PLANNING AT THE STATE’S EDUCATIONINSTUTITIONS SERVING “OPEN AND DISTANCEEDUCATION”, WHICH ARE OF NONPROFIT CONCERN  Ali Riza ERDEMPamukkale UniversityFaculty of EducationDenizli, TURKEY  ABSTRACT In conventional education process, there have always been certain obstacles throughout the human history. From that point of view, “Open and DistanceEducation” are the ones which are much more sensitive to quality and to thedissemination of knowledge to society as well as having certain advantages in gettingover matters rather than in-class processes. In our country, for public institutions,the vitality of “strategic planning” has recently been recognized and established as alegal substructure. Besides, organizations and educational institutions of thegovernment, which legally offers “Open and Distance Education” without any profitconcern, are also responsible for creating a strategic guide-line. A processestablished by Bryson for public institutions, “A Ten-Step Strategic PlanningProcess” could be used in those strategic planning of the educational institutions of the government, which are of nonprofit concern, to ease strategic thought andorganizational momentum by their administrators in on attendant, careful, andlogical way.Keywords: “Open and Distance Education” system, “A Ten-Step Strategic PlanningProcess” for public and nonprofit institutions.INTRODUCTIONToday, ever-changing individualistic affairs with society and knowledge haveinevitably reshaped his qualifications as well. Moreover, the phenomenon of knowledge boom has also altered functions of knowledge in man’s life and society aswell as his productivity and gaining perception. Contemporary society has also gaineda remarkable momentum in function and structure, which means that all that criteriahas not only affected the basic model of education for some time but caused radicalchanges as well. As a result, a number of educational system have appeared rangingfrom “Conventional Education” to “Open and Distance Education” which is moresensitive system in reaching more people as well as their advantage to overcomeobstacles and more sensitive than conventional in-class process (Eroglu, 2002).Today, the service of “Open and Distance Education” is performed in two ways(Isman & Karsli & Gunduz, 2002): ¾   open and distance education universities ¾   private or state faculties offering open and distance education. Similarly, there are a large number of “Open and Distance Education” schools in theUSA, Canada, Australia and in many other countries. In Turkish Education System“Open and Distance Education” service is largely offered by the state’s nonprofiteducation instutions (at primary, secondary and higher education levels). The leadinginstitutions in that way are the state universities and those of The Ministery of NationalEducation. The Faculty of Open Education and open education high schools and primaryschools are striking examples of that. In addition, The Services of “Open and Distance   175 Education” are largely offered by private instutions which are run with profit concernin Turkey and especially in the world.In the processing of “Open and DistanceEducation” system, there are certain education material, such as printed materials,TV and radio broadcasts, audio-visual techniques, telephones, faxes, telexts,individualistic education, video conferences and computer-based educationconditions. Country mainly choose materials (what to use and how to use) by takingtheir own feasibilities and conditions into consideration (Ulutak, 2002). AN EFFECTIVE CHOICE IN FURNISHING EQUALITY IN OPPORTUNITY AND CAPABILITY: “OPEN AND DISTANCE EDUCATION” The right of education has conventionally been idendified as one of the leadinghuman rights ranging from pre-school education to university education consistentwith the individual’s capacity. According to Ulug (2000), equality in opportunitymeans education to be close to the individual, clear, and objectively accessible by allsides of the society in lines of foresighted terms. In the meantime, the term “equality” is the case of offering educational opportunities to all individuals equally.It is also categorised in the stage of disseminating the common standards to thewhole country level and the equality in education cost for all individuals (as cited inSelvi, 2002).In conventional education, there have often been global barriers to overcome. As forTurkey, the leading ones are mostly related to insufficient capacity of educationinstutition and distance locations. Briefly, Turkey, as a developing country, isincapable of meeting her educational demand consistent with the ever growingpopulation. When it comes to the juvenile in the country, today, only a third of the young generation who wish to attend university could get such an opporyunity inTurkey. Such obstacles mentionad above are mainly caused by insufficient number of education instutition, locations or academic staff etc. Moreover, there are a largenumber of people who couldn’t unfortunately access education services properly dueto their occupation, family responsibilities, or being older than their counterparts inclassical education (Tasbasi & Aydin, 2002; Aydin, 2002). Those terms naturaly leadto inequality in education for individuals. The case also incures expected benefits of education to stay at minimum level. More, it brings about a profound negative effecton social-state criteria in the country.Whatever education model is chosen, there aremainly three substantial parameters to follow in the chosen process: ¾   knowledge’s reaching the targeted group (i.e.students) by the teachingstaff (the teaching process), ¾   the staff’s answering the questionsraised by the individuals in the targetedgroup (interactive education & questioning), ¾   the assessment process to check how much the individual has learnt(assessment & evulation). “Open and Distance Education” removes the mandatory that the student and theteaching staff clome together sometime in the process which is a must of classicalface-to-face education. The most remarkable difference between open & distanceeducation and classical education is that individuals could complete their education(ranging from primary school, secondary education, pre-bachelors degree to master’sdegree and docroral degree or even occupational courses) without leaving their dailyroutines. Moreover, “Open and Distance Education” method is a model which isperformed in conditions where academic staff and individuals are physicallyremote to eachother, by using auxiliary mechanisms such as letters or electronicequipments etc. Meanwhile, it is an education model which benefits from schools’ indoor areas at minimal level or never. The main three dimensions of it are economy,technology and efficiency. Course contexts in the former “Open and DistanceEducation” model reached at all to individuals by mail-service while today electronicbase is mostly preferred   176 . Ever advancing technology allow such a lot of advantages over “Open and DistanceEducation” such as double way interactive courses, process supported by multidisciplined conditions or cost effectiveness. The effective use of technology alsodecreases cost of “Open and Distance Education” (Yasar & Gultekin, 2002; Ozmen & Gediz, 2002; Erisen & Kilic & Pelit & Vural, 2002; Demir & Kaya, 2002; Girginer, 2002;Isman & Karsli & Gunduz, 2002). “Open and Distance Education” provides vital contributions in eliminating unequalityin education system. Moreover with multiple interaction rather than one by one“Openand Distance Education” allows social-learnig to come true in the class to aremarkable extent. In addition, ever increasing use of internet and computers makeseducational programmes to be followed up instantly and more closely all over theworld. As result, “Open and Distance Education” gets more and more globalised inthat way.WHAT IS STRATEGIC PLANNING?WHY IS STRATEGIC PLANNING SO VITALFOR INSTITUTIONS WHICH ARE OF NONPROFIT CONCERN?Over the last two decades, the world has undergone a large number of alterations,the leading of which is that the central education in the past has drastically left itsplace to more independent instutions or (may be private) corporations while newsystems, which are more competitive, dynamic and open to alterations, havesucceeded the former economic systems with centralized control mechanisms.What’s more, the gap between state instutions, private sectors and the ones whichare of nonprofit concern has steadily been disappearing. The perpetual changesand ever increasing environmental instability have urged all instutions (state andprivate ones) to make a policy consistent with strategic thinking and acting, whichmeans that strategic planning has emerged so as to meet those requirements(Bryson, 1995; Simsek,(http://www.mebnet.net/duyurular/seminer/STRATEJIKPLANLAMA.pdf ). According to Gucluol (1994), just like the need to an effective planning, thedeveloping a strategy of in planning is an obvious requirement. While the phrase “stategy” was formerly regarded as a military concern, it has steadily been placed inadministration from the second half of twentieth century. To sum up, strategy is thedirection and an action plan determined by administration to realize the given targetsor it is a plan or a model connecting the leading targets of the organization with itspolicy (Thompson & Stickland, 1984; Amstrong 1993). The approachment to strategicplanning is based on the principle that figures out negative points preventing themain targets, and futuristic trends of those negative points as well as their probableaction ways. Strategic planning is also a process which clearly determines where theinstutition or corporation wish to be in five, ten or more years, and it is a longrunning plan with its vision (YOK, 1994; Nartgun, 2000; Tufan, 2000).Bryson (1995), drawing on Olsen ve Eadie (1982) I define strategic planning as adisciplined effort to produce fundamental decisions and actins that shape and guidewhat an Organization is, what is does and why it does it. According to Bryson (1995: p. 9) clearly, strategic planning is no panacea  . As noted,strategic planning is simply a set of concepts, procedures and tools designed to helpleaders, managers and planners think and act strategically. Used in wise and skillfulways by a “coalition of the willing”, strategic planning can help organizations focuson producing effective decisions and actions that further the organization’s missionmeets its mandates and satisfy key stakeholders. But strategic planning is not asubstitute for strategic thinking and acting. Furthermore, strategic planning is not asubstitute for leadership.   177 In addition, strategic planning is not synonymous with creating an organizationalstrategy. Strategic planning aims to find out answers three substantial questions: ¾   Where are we? ¾   Where do we wish to get? ¾   How will we reach there?The aim of strategic planning is not to eliminate the possible risks or instability infuture and not to figure out what to do in future to shape it but to determinewhat to do today to get the future. Strategic planning process begins with thepersuasion of people or instutitions at key quarters in the organization or out indecision making. Missions, values, policy predetermined-targets in a strategicplanning are related to one another. The relation, therefore, is perpetually to beupdated consistent with the changes around the organization. What’s more, strategicplanning urges the administration to think beforehand systematically while it allowsthe organization to be ready for unexpected changes, and re-established the innerand outer image of the organization, as well. As a result, a strategic planning system is to be designed in a way consistent witheach organization’s characteristics   (Armstrong, 1993; Bryson, 1995) . The environments of Public and non-profit organizations have become not onlyincreasingly uncertain in recent years but also more tightly interconnected; thus,changes anywhere reverberate unpredictably-and often chaotically anddangerously- throughout the society. This increased uncertainty andinterconnectedness requires a threefold response from Public and non-profitorganizations (and from communities as well) (Bryson, 1995: p 1). ¾   First, organizations must think strategically as never before. ¾   Second, they must translate their insights into effective strategies tocope with their changed circumstances. ¾   Third, they must develop the rationales necessary to lay thegroundwork for adopting and implementing their strategies.Strategic planning can help leaders and managers of public and non-profitorganizations think and act strategically. The essence and its vital function, for theinstutitions in our country, have recently been recognized and a legal body hassteadily been established . Certain legal terms built –up for the state’s instutitionsregarding “Fiscal Administration and Controlling Code for State Instutitions”,registered with 5018 dated 12. 10. 2003 and put into effect on 01.01.2005.Thorough the new code, public instutitions all over the country are now obliged toprepare their own development plans, build up their own futuristic visions andmissions, determine exclusive strategic aims and measurable targets, measure theirperformance consistent with pre-determined asssessment (DPT, 2006). It is now alegal obligation that the state’s intutititons at “Open and Distance Education” service,which are of nonprofit concern, are to build up their exclusive strategic plans.THE STRATEGIC PLANNING OF THE STATE’S INSTUTITIONS SERVING “OPEN and DISTANCE EDUCATION” WITHOUT PROFIT CONCERN “Open and Distance Education” literature, studies concerning strategic planning anddevelopment have recently gained a momentum. Daniel (1996) and Bates (2000), byemphasizing the importance of developing a technology strategy process and itspossible results (as cited in Girginer, 2002). For state instutitions and ones which areof nonprofit concern, Bryson (1995) advises “A Ten-Step Strategic Planning Process” consisting of ten steps which are related to oner another with a complementaryfunction. The ten steps are as fallows:   178  1.   Initiate and agree upon a strategic planning process.2.   Identify organizational mandates.3.   Clarify organizational mission and values.4.    Assess the organization’s external and internal environments to identifystrengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.5.   Identify the strategic issues facing the organization.6.   Formulate strategies to manage these issues.7.   Review and adopt the strategic plan or plans.8.   Establish an effective organizational vision.9.   Develop an effective implementation process.10.   Reassess strategies and the strategic planning process. “A Ten-Step Strategic Planning Process”, advised by Bryson (1995) for stateinstutitions as the ones which are of nonprofit concern, could also be used at “Openand Distance Education”.Initiate and Agree Upon A Strategic Planning Process The beginning is the most important part of the work. PLATO  The purpose of the first step in the strategic planning process is to develop amngkey internal decision makers or opinin leaders (and if their support is necessaryfort he success of the effort, key external leaders as weel) an initial agreementabout the overall strategic planning effort and main planning steps. This representsa kind of “  plan to plan  ”. The support and commitment of key decision makers arevital if strategic planning and change are to succeed (Steiner, 1979; Bryson, 1995).   The ones at the level of administration at the state’s nonprofit “Open and DistanceEducation” instutions consider strategic planning as a mandatory to take theinstutition to further point rather than only a legal resolution.   Identify Organizational MandatesThe organization faces up to certain formal and informal responsibilities, whichmeans the obligation of performing all things formal and informal. Such things areusually laid down in laws, regulations and governing statutes. At this stage, it ismandatory for an organization to determine what to do or not. The main purpose of the second step is to clarify the nature of the organization and certain outer factorsexpressed in laws or in some other way. For this reason laws, regulations andgoverning statutes are to be reviewed inasmuch as many organizations may notbeaware of their responsibilities although they think they are, or they regard manyso-called things are true. As a result of inadequency in the the things they are notsupposed to do at all or they may miss certain opportunities by restricting themselvestoo much (Bryson, 1995; Simsek,http://www.mebnet.net/duyurular/seminer/STRATEJIK0PLANLAMA.pdf ).That state’s educatioanal instutitions, which are of nonprofit concern, put “Open andDistance Education” into effect is of a great emphasis in strategic planning process.Clarify Organizational Mission and ValuesThe present thought concerning the clarification of mission is largely based on PeterDrucker’s searches and writing in 1970’s. Drucker says “an instutition’s name couldnot be explained through its statutes or the terms in its establishment declarationbut explained its mission.The instutition will merely make it possible for the organization to put forwardmission and targets clearly and to make a clear definition of the.” By expressingthose words, Peter Drucker’s discusses that the question “what is your job?” is tomean “what is our mission?” (Drucker, 1994).
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