E-learning: New pathways in education

Upcoming conference explores technology in teaching
February 20, 2013
By Fiona Downey

Flipped classrooms, blended learning, social media applications, distance learning. A survey of current best practices and future applications for online learning tools and programs will be at the heart of an upcoming conference. The e.SCAPE conference will be held April 3, 4 and 5 in various locations of the Sir George Williams Campus.

President Alan Shepard will kick off the three-day conference with some remarks speculating on the impact of e-learning on the future of universities.

The program will also showcase the wide spectrum of online, hybrid, and technology-supported teaching formats already adopted by faculty at Concordia and will feature visits from leading figures in the field, who will present keynote speeches.

Ollivier Dyens, vice-provost, Teaching and Learning, and a professor in the Département d’études françaises, is heading the programming committee for the conference. “e.SCAPE will be a great opportunity for everyone at Concordia to get a feel for how leading-edge technologies can enhance the classroom experience,” says Dyens. “We’re hoping to provide the essential elements for enriching exchanges about what e-learning is but, most importantly, what it can become.”

Saul Carliner, the E-Learning Fellow for the Centre for Teaching and Learning Services and an associate professor in the Department of Education, adds, “This conference provides tips for using technology in teaching, shows how it supports learning, and provides faculty with opportunities to try out things for themselves, so the technologies become concrete experiences rather than abstract concepts.”

The conference provides that opportunity through workshops during which Concordia faculty members will share how they’ve woven technological innovations into their courses, as well as demonstrations from companies involved in educational technology, such as Apple and Adobe.

Organizers of the e.SCAPE conference are hoping a series of plenary sessions will facilitate lively discussion about the pedagogical merits of technology tools in a relatively casual setting. The program will also provide faculty with the latest research findings on how to integrate new technologies to enhance the classroom experience.

Among the topics to be tackled: incorporating wireless student reponse systems, also known as “clickers”; successfully engaging students in massive open online courses or “MOOCs”; and integrating multimedia elements and social media to best effect in teaching.

The landscape of e-learning continues to shift and expand. Concordia’s Senate is currently developing a formal academic framework for the practice within the university. The e.SCAPE conference aims to provide concrete information and testimony from early adopters to help guide participants toward enhancing the learning experience through cutting-edge teaching practices.

Related links:
•    e.SCAPE
•    Department of Education
•    Centre for Teaching and Learning Services
•    “Saul Carliner takes over the e-learning fellowship” — NOW, October 30, 2012 

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