Plug into digital learning at the e.SCAPE conference

Community conversation and hands-on sessions invite exploration of new teaching and learning tools
September 24, 2014
By Tom Peacock


The third edition of Concordia’s popular e.SCAPE Conference, Innovations in Teaching: Getting the most out of online learning, is right around the corner, and the organizing committee is encouraging students, staff and faculty from across the university to attend and contribute.

Cathy Bolton, vice-provost of teaching and learning, says one of the university’s main objectives going forward is to implement a digital learning strategy that will transform and improve entire programs, rather than just individual courses.

“We’re beginning to think bigger, because this is not just about online courses; it’s also about blended courses and flipped courses,” she says. “e.SCAPE is our attempt to bring awareness to all these different things — letting people know what’s out there and what they can do.”

The two-day event begins at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, October 1 in Room 5.215 in the John Molson School of Business (JMSB) with a panel discussion titled Universities in the 21st century: wired or unplugged.

The three panelists (Benoit-Antoine Bacon, provost and vice president; Anthony Masi, provost of McGill University; and Kenneth Robertson, director general of Champlain Regional College) will look at how the brain processes digital learning, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and the challenges of taking higher education online.

Following the panelists’ presentations, members of the audience will be asked to take part in a community conversation aimed at developing proposals for expanding and improving online and digital learning at Concordia.

On the second day of e.Scape, Concordia professors who have successfully implemented digital classroom tools and online learning components into their courses will demonstrate the capabilities of Concordia’s popular course-management program Moodle, as well as Adobe Connect, Panopto and Camtasia.

Panopto is a lecture-capture platform being piloted at Concordia for classroom use. Camtasia is also being piloted for individual use outside the classroom for screen casting. Adobe Connect can be used by faculty to create a virtual classroom environment.

John Bentley, program coordinator for instructional development with Concordia’s Teaching and Learning Sevices and an e.SCAPE organizer, explained that conference participants will also get a chance to try out these popular digital and online learning tools for themselves, and see how they might use them in their own teaching practice.

“The getting-started sessions will introduce participants to some of the main and favourite features of each of these technologies while the digital drop-ins are intended to encourage a little bit of hands-on experience,” he said.

Many faculty members at Concordia are already incorporating online learning technologies into their courses in amazing ways, but a lot of them are flying below the radar.

Saul Carliner, digital learning fellow, says he hopes these digital pioneers will use the e.SCAPE Conference as an opportunity to share their experiences with their colleagues, and contribute to the strengthening of the university’s overall educational offering.

“There’s a really compelling case to be made for using digital learning tools in some programs,” he says. “We may be missing opportunities to reach some students becasuse we're not able to address their flexibility concerns. That's really what online and blended learning offer, is some flexibility.”

While he’s aware that some faculty may feel they don’t have time to reinvent their courses, Carliner says the conference activities are designed to show them that it’s easier than it looks to incorporate digital learning tools. “We're hoping to make it seem manageable to them.”

The e.SCAPE Conference is open to the entire university community — students, staff and faculty. The two-day event is free to attend and no registration is required.
View the full conference program.

Both Camtasia and Panopto are available for use in practice rooms set up by Instructional and Information Technology Services (IITS) on both Concordia campuses. Contact Teaching and Learning Services for more information.

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