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Experts Gather at the College To Explore the Future of E-Learning

Posted Jan. 27, 2017 – National leaders in e-learning joined with experts from the University of Houston College of Education to host an interactive conference here to explore the future of massive open online courses, or MOOCs, and other digital resources.

“The most important thing I took away from the conference is we are not alone in wanting to improve skills, learn new trends and stay on the cutting edge of our field, which for many of us is instructional designing,” said Linda Davis, director of the Office of Educational Technology at the UH College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. “I am looking forward to the continuing collaborations and sharing of ideas for assuring student success.”

Curtis Bonk, a professor at Indiana University’s School of Education and a conference presenter, said the sessions were forward looking, exciting and flavored with ideas for educational progress. “What a thoughtfully designed learning experience, where the day swayed between the voices of internationally known experts to those found in various small-group presentation and roundtable sessions,” he said. Most important, in the end, several distinct learning communities emerged for continued discussion, sharing and debate,” he said.

Sara McNeil and Bernard Robin, associate professors at the UH College of Education, have been at the forefront of e-learning. Since 2013, thousands of students from more than 160 countries have taken the two MOOCs they developed in partnership with graduate students. The courses focus on digital storytelling and innovative web-based tools that educators can use in instruction. A third course on the educational uses of digital images is in development.

Coursera, a major MOOC provider, recently announced that more 23 million learners from 185 countries have participated in roughly 1,700 active courses.

“It remains to be seen if the dramatic growth of MOOCs continues and how it affects the traditional university experience,” Robin said, “but we feel confident that MOOCs will continue to attract large number of students who may otherwise not have known about our online courses and programs.”

If you missed the conference or want to relive it, enjoy these videos of the presentations.

- By Kathy Patnaude