This blog post written by:
Chair Emerita and Past President, U.S. Distance Learning Association
Happy 30th birthday USDLA!
Over the last 30 years, we have made tremendous progress in the field of technology-enhanced education. Gone are the days when course modules were little more than a series of lecture notes and PowerPoint hand-outs published and delivered online, and online instructors broadcast lectures through video conferencing without engaging their students on the other end. Even though studying online, as such, could feel lonely and be somewhat boring, at least it was an acceptable tradeoff for the privilege of learning from anywhere, at any time.
Fortunately, we can fast-forward 30 years to find that technology has advanced greatly, providing us with an amazing array of interactive technologies at our disposal. Today, we can provide an ideal learning experience for our students – one that is authentic, engaging, and personalized according to their needs. Technologies like virtual, augmented or mixed reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, gamification and simulations are enabling us to drive the future of online education. But how do we effectively use these technological capabilities to better serve our students?
While technologies can be empowering, they are also constantly evolving. Simultaneously, we have a far better understanding around how students learn – knowledge that can be applied to the way we develop our content and design our courses. So how will these advancements influence online learning and drive innovation?
Closing keynote and more
We all come to conferences like this one to answer questions such as these; to explore what is possible and how others are applying it. By the same token, this quest for knowledge drove us to launch a rigorous research project at Drexel University Online (DUO), with the goal of uncovering “pockets of innovation” in the technology-enhanced education arena.
Having conducted dozens of discovery interviews with faculty, administrators, and training officers worldwide, we have thus far produced more than 70 case studies, featuring a wealth of trailblazing approaches for using the latest and greatest technologies to support an ideal learning experience. And after unearthing so many “pockets of innovation,” we realized we were sitting on a gold mine of information that must be shared with our colleagues, through presentations such as the closing keynote for the USDLA conference.
We hope to inspire you by showcasing examples of some of the brightest minds and best practices in connected teaching and learning. We also want you to return home from the conference and share these ideas with your colleagues. To make that possible, we have taken our research project one giant step forward, by creating a website called Virtually Inspired, which will provide you with the content you need to fuel your discussions back at the office.
Virtually Inspired features a series of high-quality videos that highlight some of the many ways educators are inventing the future of connected teaching and learning. Likewise, this website will incorporate interviews with online learning experts; a section for visitors to share their own leading-edge practices; and a space for reviewing published books and articles in the field – all of which are designed to encourage ongoing collaboration, as we explore the ever-expanding frontiers of our profession.
Racing to Virtual Success
Given the lightning speed with which technologies such as these are moving into the mainstream of academia, there is no doubt that the future of connected education is well within our collective power to invent. We look forward to sharing the closing keynote with you, Racing to Virtual Success. We think the content will be just what you are looking for. We also hope that you will join forces with us to create that future and make Virtually Inspired both an ongoing source of ideas and a nexus for collaboration.
You may reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Susan Aldridge, President, Drexel University Online
Marci M. Powell, Chair Emerita and Past President, U.S. Distance Learning Association
USDLA 2017 National Conference
April 30 – May 3, 2017 in Indianapolis, IN
The USDLA 2017 National Conference is the premier event for professionals in the distance learning industry. This year’s conference celebrates USDLA’s 30th year and promises to deliver an action-packed agenda that will bring together distance learning practitioners from across the country and around the world.
*Click here for more information about this USDLA signature event.
Join the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA)
The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is a non-profit association formed in 1987 with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts. The association reaches 20,000 people globally with sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 billion dollar U.S. education and training market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government and telehealth markets.