2017 Educase Conference

The 2017 Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) conference brought together learning technology practitioners, university administrators, and faculty members to present and discuss the theme of “Transforming the Academy: Building Communities of Practice”.

The annual event offered more than 50 sessions about an array of subjects from leveraging artificial intelligence for personalized tutoring to emerging instructional uses of virtual reality. Held in Houston, TX, the conference focused on issues related to learning principles and practice as well as learning technologies.

Annette Beck, Director of Enterprise Instructional Technology in the Office of Teaching, Learning & Technology, co-presented an interactive session, with colleagues from the University of Nebraska and Northwestern University, designed to engage technology practitioners and administrators in a discussion about how best to avoid and alleviate faculty stress when making a major technology change like the recent University of Iowa transition to a new platform for ICON.

“Change is hard no matter what,” Beck says, “and moving to a new learning management system is an especially big challenge since so many people use the technology every day.”

Session attendees took turns playing the roles of administrators, faculty, and support staff in different scenarios designed to give participants various perspectives and to highlight the importance of effective communication between campus constituencies.

Beck feels the interactive activity and robust discussion provided the participants both an overview of how other institutions were grappling with similar challenges and an opportunity to exchange ideas about how to best support faculty.

“ELI focuses more on the philosophy and effectiveness of using technology in teaching, not simply the technology,” she says.

Another conference highlight was the unveiling of the New Media Consortium’s Horizon Report. Since 2003, the Horizon Report has identified important developments, technologies, challenges and trends facing higher education.

This year the report is divided into three major topics: Key Trends Accelerating Technology Adoption in Higher Education, Significant Challenges Impeding Technology Adoption in Higher Education, and Important Developments in Educational Technology for Higher Education.

This year’s Horizon Report identified blended learning designs (near-term impact) and the advancement of cultures of innovation (a longer-term shift) .

As far as significant challenges, the report points out improving digital literacy as a solvable challenge, while rethinking the roles of educators is dubbed a “wicked” challenges.

In addition, the report forecasts mobile learning technologies will become ubiquitous, while the arrival of artificial intelligence on campuses will take longer, not impacting most campuses in meaningful ways for another five years or so.

You can read the full report HERE.