A record audience of more than 400 faculty, academic advisors, instructional designers, student service providers, and administrators from IU’s seven campuses attended the 2018 IU Online Conference, participating in sessions on the evolving innovations, best practices, and techniques that make IU a standout in online education.
In his opening remarks, Executive Vice President for University Academic Affairs John Applegate said that students expect continual connectivity and an “individualized, automated, and speedy” experience. “Even traditional students expect the flexibility of the online format,” he said. As a result, we must “evolve to meet the needs of new generations of students and keep pace with the changing IT landscape.”
Evolution means innovation, and conference presenters highlighted such innovations as backward design, which aligns course goals with professional standards. In addition, they discussed tactics for making online learning more effective: rituals and games, interactive and experiential learning activities, group projects, effective feedback, enhanced engagement in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) courses, and an emphasis on critical thinking skills.
Over lunch, keynote speaker Alec Couros, a pioneer in open education and professor of educational technology and media at Canada’s University of Regina, discussed how social learning via the Internet is now a norm of daily life. To illustrate the point, he shared clips from YouTube, like The Backwards-Brain Bicycle and Learn to Paint, that teach all kinds of skills. And lest you think tweets are only for celebrities and politicians, Couros showed how instructors might build an entire course around Twitter.
Other sessions focused on the development of new online programs and on the experiences of faculty who teach online. One session highlighted the efforts of the Office of Collaborative Academic Programs, which coordinates the development of collaborative degrees across IU, while another session about IU Expand highlighted the growing demand for noncredit and professional education programs. Faculty challenged by the prospect of transforming an on-campus course to an online course heard about one instructor’s hesitant-to-enthusiastic journey toward teaching online and about the university resources that supported the transition. Faculty also learned how a bootcamp based on Quality Matters principles enabled participants to develop a basic online course in one week.
Watch our website for conference slides, and look for an article in the spring edition of this newsletter that reviews the post-conference survey. Planning for next year’s conference is already underway—watch your inbox for a save-the-date email.