Teaching & Learning in the Digital Age 

Five Tracks

  1. Access, Openness and Flexibility

Access, openness and flexibility in higher education are increasing as more students are involved with online learning and more providers, including colleges, universities, technical institutes and literacy and basic organizations, offer online opportunities. However, many challenges remain.

Special efforts to improve access and success, including flexible course design, funding and support, are essential for underrepresented and disadvantaged student populations. Equitable education for women has long been a high priority goal in many regions. Other initiatives focus on Indigenous populations, migrants, refugees, linguistic minorities, marginalized groups, poor people, incarcerated populations, homeless individuals, people with disabilities, and those living in rural and remote communities.

This track highlights projects, programs and research to expand access, openness and flexibility as valuable examples of how online learning can address these challenges.

The Key Questions and Key Areas outline topics suggested for inclusion in proposals in this track.

Key Questions:

  • What new designs and developments are emerging to support flexible learning?
  • What new and innovative approaches are institutions and program developers taking to attract and retain students traditionally denied access to higher education?
  • How can technology expand access, openness and flexibility?
  • How is online apprenticeship training designed and delivered to offer greater flexibility to students?
  • What online teaching and learning strategies are used to create a level playing field for difficult-to-reach students?
  • In what ways can new kinds of assessment and credit recognition increase access, openness and flexibility?
  • How do new applications and tools offer support to disadvantaged groups?
  • What models of student support show positive results in reaching disadvantaged students?
  • What new definitions of “openness” are evolving and what are their impacts on students, faculty and institutions?

Key Areas:

  • Integrated tutoring strategies using automated and face-to-face engagement
  • Increasing online access to learning readiness and support services, apprenticeship and skills education, and more flexible assessment
  • Culturally appropriate development, adaptation and sharing of online teaching and learning content, strategies, tools and resources
  • Initiatives using mobile devices, micro-learning, MOOCs, OERs and other flexible options
  • Models and successes of approaches such as public/private partnerships and collaboration
  • Costing and revenue models for the development and deployment of educational and support services to expand access, flexibility and openness

 

  1. Course Design, Development and Delivery

All over the world, faculty and instructors are experimenting with new pedagogical and instructional models and technological applications, such as flipped classrooms and competency-based learning. Online learning is not restricted to information delivery or facilitation of learning, but is also used for labs, workshops, language practice, health simulations, and international collaborative learning – the possibilities seem endless. OERs, MOOCs and other resources offer opportunities for flexible learning, as well as challenge the existing role of faculty as providers of knowledge. As acceptance of these approaches grows, educators are looking for models of successful applications that are easy to adapt and supported by research.

This track explores innovations in designs for online, blended and technology-enabled teaching and learning, research on learning processes and outcomes, and how new approaches to learning embrace quality and student engagement.

The Key Questions and Key Areas outline topics suggested for inclusion in proposals in this track.

Key Questions:

  • What are emerging models of effective online teaching and learning?
  • How do we involve stakeholders, and specifically students, in designing effective online curricula and experiences?
  • What new approaches to instructional design are having a positive impact on learning outcomes?
  • How is online learning being used in apprenticeship programs, with blended formats, simulations and other strategies?
  • How are OERs, MOOCs, games, simulations, augmented reality, and virtual reality being integrated into courses?
  • What are the experiences of collaborative course design by faculty within an institution or cross-institutions?
  • How are students becoming involved in the development and sharing of course content?
  • What new pedagogies and instructional methods are used with online learning, including developments such as peer-to-peer support and cooperation?
  • What is the influence of the current “post truth” and “fake news” world on online teaching and learning?
  • What are exemplars, models and results that “light the fire” of online learning for staff and faculty?

  Key Areas:

  • New online strategies, such as competency-based learning, apprenticeship training and MOOCs
  • Stakeholder involvement in curriculum and instructional design
  • Designs for quality improvement and student engagement
  • New designs for the teaching of STEM subjects
  • Examples of the development, testing and improvement of effective designs for learning in any area of curriculum
  • Research results showing success and ongoing challenges in online course design, development and delivery
  • Success with new blended learning design approaches
  • Use of technology-enhanced learning in the face-to-face classroom
  • Leveraging OERs, APPs and other tools to enable, speed up and reduce the costs of course development and delivery

 

  1. Assessment, Analytics and Student Success

Online assessment is an area of continual development and challenge, presenting concerns for security and opportunities for more active, flexible and engaged assessment. Analytics offer possibilities for the improvement of course design, student retention and success, as well as personalized learning.

Competency-based education features new models for teaching and learning linked to ongoing assessments of specific learning and abilities. In addition, regardless of their programs, all students need to acquire the multiple new skills to navigate the world of online learning and the world after higher education.

This track explores assessment, analytics, competency-based education, new forms of credentials and how students, faculty and institutions can benefit.

The Key Questions and Key Areas outline topics suggested for inclusion in proposals in this track.

Key Questions:

  • What support strategies are improving student retention, completion and success?
  • What new models of student assessment respond to the opportunities and limitations of the online environment?
  • How are student attainment and application of competencies measured?
  • How is online assessment being integrated into apprenticeship training?
  • How are analytics collected and deployed to improve course design and delivery, achievement of learning outcomes and student success?
  • How has online learning enabled peer-to-peer contact for assessment and support?
  • What are successful approaches to privacy protection, ethics and care in the collection, analysis and use of student data?
  • How are analytics used for effective personalized learning?

Key Areas:

  • Flexible learning and recognition through strategies such as modular (stackable) credentials, e-portfolios, prior learning assessment, badges, and nano-degrees
  • Models of personal and personalized learning facilitated with analytics and flexible assessment
  • Online assessment as part of apprenticeship programs
  • Strategies to ensure security and identity verification in online assessment
  • Use of learning analytics for course revision and rethinking of instructional strategies
  • Innovations and developments in student support services
  • Small data and the capture of emerging trends
  • Technology-assisted, human-to-human tutoring and student support contacts

 

  1. Technology, Innovation and Pedagogy

Cutting-edge technology applications, such as virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, simulations, serious learning games, chatbots, immersive technologies and many more, are being developed and adapted all over the world. Considerable attention is being paid to how they can be used in higher education to benefit learning – including questions of pedagogy, course integration, access and cost. In addition, social media and a multitude of APPs are being introduced into courses, with their impact on learning and student engagement carefully tracked.

In this track, the focus is on technology, what it offers and how it can be used effectively for student access and success. Presentations, case studies and demonstrations highlight what has been tested, achieved and learned from experience, as well as speculate on what is possible in the future.

The Key Questions and Key Areas outline topics suggested for inclusion in proposals in this track.

Key Questions:

  • What emerging technologies are being deployed in creative ways to facilitate engaged learning?
  • How are technologies integrated into effective course and assessment design?
  • What examples of technology application are most useful for student motivation, retention, engagement and success?
  • What technologies and APPs are most effective for online apprenticeship training?
  • What are the expectations of students arriving from the school system where technology is increasingly part of teaching and learning?
  • How can safety, verification and security be assured in online learning in a digital world?
  • What does the future hold? What is on the horizon?

Key Areas:

  • Technologies on the cutting edge – artificial and machine intelligence, block chain technologies, chatbots, 3D printing and innovative uses of simulations and games
  • New uses of video technologies for learning
  • The smartphone and mobile devices as learning platforms
  • Hands-on learning by seeing and doing with new applications, programs and systems, with particular focus on apprenticeship training
  • Big data and the Internet of things
  • Cyber security and privacy protection in higher education
  • Cyberbullying and harassment in online communities
  • Sandboxes and other innovative support strategies
  • Future-focused thinking: learning systems and technologies for 2040

 

  1. Faculty, Staff and Institutional Development

A great many of the innovations and developments taking place in online learning revolve around faculty. To respond to this new challenge, faculty require support, including policy guidance, to effectively design, develop, deploy, and support online teaching and learning. Instructional and technical design staff need to be aware of latest developments and possibilities and able to effectively share them with faculty. In addition, staff with responsibility for registration, student support and many other activities are part of the shift to online learning and require special training. Institutions are also evolving and adopting new strategies and thinking as technology becomes an increasing part of their reality.

This track focuses on development of faculty, staff and institutions – how this is achieved, the strategies, benefits, challenges and good practices. Built around experiences and research, sessions explore the change that is essential for those involved in higher education institutions and how this is best achieved.

The Key Questions and Key Areas outline topics suggested for inclusion in proposals in this track.

Key Questions:

  • What are the professional learning needs of faculty and staff and how can these be met effectively?
  • What new roles and activities are faculty members engaged in and what is changing in the relationship between faculty and students?
  • What are successful strategies for moving from individual online learning champions to engagement across the institution?
  • What collaborations work at the institutional, local, national and international level?
  • What are the experiences involved in effective institutional change management approaches?
  • How are faculty supported in locating and integrating outside resources – OERs, MOOCs – into their courses?
  • What are successful designs for support services such as libraries teaching and learning centres, and how they offer their services?

Key Areas:

  • Models of effective faculty and staff development
  • Defining teaching and learning support contracts and competencies
  • Challenges and opportunities facing faculty seeking to advance online learning
  • Peer networks and global networks for faculty support
  • Organizational models and practices that enable the rapid deployment of new approaches to teaching and learning
  • New performance management approaches in the evolving online world
  • Strategies to support the adoption of technology
  • Recognizing and supporting the scholarship of online teaching and learning