Saul Carliner, director of the Education Doctoral Program and associate professor in the Department of Education, has been appointed as Concordia’s new E-Learning Fellow for the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services (CTLS).
Ollivier Dyens, Concordia’s Vice-Provost, Teaching and Learning says Carliner’s role will be to help the CTLS enhance the student learning experience at Concordia through the use of new and existing educational technology.
“Saul brings a wealth of experience to this position,” Dyens says, before adding that Carliner has a strong reputation as an innovator in the education technology world. “He’s got a zillion ideas about what we can do, which is great.”
Carliner’s colleague, Vivek Venkatesh, who briefly held the E-Learning fellowship, was recently named Associate Dean of Academic Programs and Development at the School of Graduate Studies. Venkatesh will continue to serve as E-Learning Fellow for the School of Graduate Studies.
The new fellowship position is a natural fit for Carliner, who has spent most of his career studying and designing e-learning tools and programs. He received his PhD in instructional technology from Georgia State University. “There’s some stretching and growing that’s going to go on, but at the same time, it’s building on something that I feel very comfortable with,” he says.
In his new role, Carliner says he wants to focus a lot of attention on making the adoption and use of online learning tools and technology in the classroom a friendly and engaging experience. “The idea is to really open people’s minds, but always keeping the fun factor there,” he says. “There is an apprehension about technology; I don’t want to deny that that exists. But at the same time, I want to try to keep people enthused, and keep it fun.”
As students and faculty members become comfortable with the presence of technology in learning, there will be more opportunities for what is known as blended learning, Carliner says.
“Part of the course may be online, part of the course may be in the classroom,” he says. “You can use online resources to tutor and coach students, or you can create sequences that do some of the coaching and tutoring... You’re only limited by your imagination and your awareness.”
Over the next year, Dyens says, the CTLS wants to collaborate with the rest of Concordia’s students, staff and faculty to develop a clear position on technology and learning at Concordia.
“We want to discuss the position with the community and have a good debate on this, and by the end of this academic year, or by next September, to know exactly where we’re going, why and how, and for what purposes,” says the vice-provost.
What will this mean for Carliner in his new role as E-Learning Fellow? “A lot of meetings,” he says. “Over time we’ll pick a few high-value activities that I will focus on, but we’re still defining what those are.”
Carliner insists that any discussions about the future of e-learning at Concordia should not ignore the ultimate goal, which is to enhance students’ learning experience.
“If you just have technology, you don’t think about the teaching. The technology just becomes this toy, this useless thing,” he says, adding that for this reason, “The technology must always come second to the teaching.”
• Centre for Teaching and Learning Services
• “Learning at the water cooler” — NOW, September 18, 2012