Paul Bacsich is a consultant in online learning (e-learning, including distance learning) with 30 years experience. He covers both post-secondary and schools-level sectors with a focus on virtual universities, with particular current interest in open educational resources (OER) and public-private business models for providers – and also virtual schools and virtual colleges.
The following material is not a full CV – it focusses on his publicly visible work on projects and for institutions. Many of his client projects remain confidential.
Currently Paul has a portfolio of interests. He is co-owner/Director of Matic Media Ltd. In the last ten years, he has also been active in a number of other companies and organisations, most visibly for Sero Consulting Ltd’s SeroHE division but also Dualversity, Oxford Cyber Academy and EduGrowth.
He has skills in benchmarking, quality, cost-benefit analysis, change management, market research, competitor research, procurement, due diligence and copyright. Research interests also include time issues in online learning, 21st century skills, competences and other topics relevant to the ICT-enabled broad-spectrum providers of education in the future – the “multeversities” and other compelling archetypes.
Paul Bacsich worked at the UK Open University for many years, finally as co-founder and Assistant Director of the Knowledge Media Institute. (He has continued to consult for the OU, with at least five contracts in recent years.) In 1996 he became a full professor at Sheffield Hallam University, at which he set up the Virtual Campus Programme, and the Telematics in Education Research Group (TERG) which won many contracts in e-learning from government agencies and commercial companies in costing, evaluation and change management.
In 2003 he became Director of Special Projects at the UK e-University (UKeU) with particular responsibility for competitor analysis, a post which he combined with a technical consultancy role for the Worldwide Universities Network. The UKeU era came to an end in early 2004, at which point Paul took over responsibility for editing and publishing material from the archives, initially under funding from HEFCE. The archives were published by the Higher Education Academy (now part of AdvanceHE – an example chapter is here) – the chapters can now be hard to track down so will soon be brought together on this site.
In 2005 Paul became a consultant to the Higher Education Academy, first through the Benchmarking e-Learning Programme, then for Pathfinder and the Gwella project in Wales. He has personally benchmarked e-learning at over 20 universities in three countries (UK, Sweden, Canada) and his team have benchmarked over 40.
In August 2007 he started working at Sero Consulting Ltd, working on R&D contracts mostly for Becta (especially the HE aspects of CAPITAL) but also for JISC (now Jisc – on Libraries 2.0 and costs) and DCELLs (Wales). He created and led the EU project VISCED (Virtual Schools and Colleges) in 2011-12 and then created and led the EU project POERUP (Policies for OER Uptake) which started in November 2011 and reported in October 2014. He then worked on OER studies following on from POERUP (Beyond POERUP) including SharedOER and ADOERUP (Adult Education and Open Educational Resources). He went on to play a role in a 3-year Erasmus+ project on leadership in open online learning (D-TRANSFORM, 2014-17) led by the Foundation FMSH in France, with his focus being on leadership and business models.
In his non-OER work in the last five years Paul has worked mostly invisibly on market research and competitor/comparator analysis for various UK universities (Russell Group and post-92 – only York is visible, via the SeroHE connection) and large private providers, and continues his involvement with VLE benchmarking and VLE comparison (increasingly analysing MOOC platforms also).
He continues a strand of work advising universities outside the UK. In 2014-15 he consulted for the National Forum for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education in Ireland, first as a member of an international bid review panel, then as chair of a group of senior university officials charged with producing an Infrastructure Review Rubric and Methodology for a “Systematic Review of Technical Infrastructure in Irish Higher Education with a view to Building Digital Capacity”. In 2015 he also chaired the e-learning review panel at a prestigious university in Sweden (in which country he has done substantial consultancy work in the last few years).
Paul continues a long-standing interest in quality of e-learning. The most recent visible activity in this area was consultancy in 2014-15 to support the SEQUENT project (Supporting Quality in e-learning European NeTworks) led by ENQA (European Association for Quality Assurance in Higher Education) and EADTU. A key report of his was Showcases of QA in online and open education.
From August 2018 for three years he was appointed to a Professor of Practice role at the University of West Indies Open Campus. 2018 started a busy period for the next three years as he was also leading a consultancy team working with a very prestigious UK university on support structures for their new VLE and running various other completely confidential market research and VLE review projects. The one public output was for Wey Education plc (who run virtual schools) where his team market-researched, specified, developed and then taught a brand new vocational qualification Teaching Teachers to Teach Online (TTTOL) launched in May 2019 and then carried out minor redevelopment a year later. (Wey is now part of the Inspired Education Group and their lead virtual school is Kings Interhigh.)
Paul has a PhD and many publications in mathematical logic, computer networks and e-learning. He has consultancy, inward mission, evaluation/review and advisory experience in many countries including UK, Ireland (Irish Research Council, National Forum), Sweden (e.g. KTH and Lund, also Gotland, others not visible), Switzerland (Swiss Virtual Campus), Canada (Telelearning, TRU-OL, Athabasca etc), Australia (from 1986, e.g. Visiting Fellow at Deakin, AJET Review), New Zealand (Visiting Fellow at University of Canterbury, evaluator of the last round of eMM benchmarking), Brazil (from 1984, many visits), Colombia (Colombia Aprende, 2006), Mexico (e.g. Aprenred, 2010), Rwanda (Imfundo missions), Kuwait (Arab Open University), Thailand (e.g. Thai-UK Education Festival 2003) and Hong Kong (e.g. ITeD Evaluation). In addition he has consulted and written reports for UNESCO nodes (Moscow, Montevideo), European Commission (including the Joint Research Centre) and European Parliament (1995 and 2015).
Specialties: benchmarking, costing, evaluation, change management, due diligence, pre-procurement, national and international policy work (costing, funding, retention etc).