Concordia University

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How technology is reshaping Concordia’s classrooms

Second e.SCAPE conference aims to broaden online offerings at the university
February 12, 2014
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By Fiona Downey

e.SCAPE: Knowledge, Teaching, Technology
e.SCAPE: Knowledge, Teaching, Technology explores new frontiers in online learning.


eLearning’s latest evolutionary leap occurred with startling speed. A decade ago, the notion of attending a class from home, by way of an internet connection, seemed far-fetched; now, students enrol in courses they can follow — and participate in — without setting foot on a university campus.

Next month, Concordia is exploring the powerful impact of technology on education at Innovations in Teaching: Getting the most of out of learning, the university’s second annual e.SCAPE: Knowledge, Teaching, Technology conference. It will run from Wednesday, March 5, to Friday, March 7, on the Sir George Williams Campus.

At the inaugural edition of e.SCAPE last spring, Concordia faculty examined techonology-specific advances in teaching. This year’s event will focus on the development of a greater range of online courses.

Catherine Bolton, vice-provost of Teaching and Learning, chairs the organizing committee. “We’ve already succeeded in offering our students a wide range of engaging online courses,” she says. “We want this conference to be an opportunity for faculty members and departments to think more strategically about the place of eLearning in their programs, moving forward.”

University faculty who are already creating or teaching online courses play a key role at the conference. They will share their experiences with their colleagues at a series of master classes and discussions on topics related to the online learning environment.

Tony Bates Keynote speaker Tony Bates: “eLearning equips students with skills to go beyond mere digital literacy.” | Photo courtesy of Bates

Tony Bates, an expert in online learning and distance education who has written 11 related books, including 2011’s Managing Technology in Higher Education: Strategies for Transforming Teaching and Learning, joins e.SCAPE on March 5 to deliver its keynote address.

Bates is the president and CEO of Tony Bates Associates Ltd., a firm that helped several Canadian schools develop eLearning strategies. He has also held a number of academic positions, including that of director of Distance Education and Technology in the Continuing Studies Division of the University of British Columbia.

“Tony Bates’s wealth of experience and practical knowledge of learning environments will help guide our program planning in a fundamental way,” Bolton says. “It will help shape the questions we need to ask ourselves so that our courses and programs best meet the needs and expectations of next-generation students.”

The advantages of eLearning

Bates is clear on the benefits eLearning offers universities. “Knowledge management is essential for graduates to function in our digital society,” he says. “eLearning equips students with skills to go beyond mere digital literacy and teaches them to find, evaluate, analyze and apply information in whatever field they are studying.”

He believes technology will give faculty members a range of new ways to approach teaching, allowing them to move from the traditional classroom to a more dynamic model. Bates points to mobile learning, student ePortfolios, blogs and wikis, online animations and simulations, open educational resources and remote labs as examples of how technology can enhance the educational experience.

At e.SCAPE, he will also offer insights to members of the Concordia community who are shaping the university’s policies on eLearning and technology in teaching.

“Faculty, staff and students are crucial in crafting visions for the future,” he says. “Together, they can explore the best ways of developing both the people and technology infrastructure to support online or blended learning within the university environment.”

Participants will also have a chance to check out the latest tools and technologies for eLearning at a day-long teaching and technology fair.

Bolton sees e.SCAPE as an integral part of Concordia’s commitment to the use of technology in teaching.

“We encourage faculty to participate and hear first-hand from their colleagues about how the online environment can be both a challenging and productive learning space for all students as our university looks to the future,” she says.

The e.SCAPE: Knowledge, Teaching, Technology conference takes place from Wednesday, March 5, to Friday, March 7. Tony Bates will deliver the conference’s keynote address on Wednesday, March 5, at 6 p.m. in the Norman D. Hébert, LLD, Meeting Room (Room EV-2.260) in the Engineering, Computer Science and Visual Arts Integrated Complex (EV Building, 1515 Ste-Catherine St. W.).



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