Presented by UPCEA and the American Council on Education (ACE)

Washington, D. C. June 27-29

This three-day conference convened key campus leaders—presidents, provosts, deans, and teams directly engaged in the management and delivery of online programs—to define and develop their institutional strategy for online learning. This event addressed such timely topics as emerging technology and design, marketing and student success, leadership and strategy, and program innovation.

Here are comments from gathered from participants at the event, as well as some of those who followed it online.


What’s on the horizon in online education?




John Kannapell, Vice President, Education Services, Blackboard

In the next five to ten years, and I think even faster, online learning becomes multisensory, multimodal, adaptive learning. If you think about what’s happening today within wearable technology, we’re able to get brainwave patterns, hear what people are listening to, see what people are seeing, sense, smell, taste—all different kinds of things. All of those become inputs into how people begin to absorb information and how it changes their responsiveness.

 vickie-cookVickie Cook, Director, Center for Online Learning, Research and Service, University of Illinois at Springfield

Artificial intelligence will play a big role; we’ve already seen Jill Watson, the robot at Georgia Tech, serve as a teaching assistant. I think that will be fun in some ways and I think it is a little daunting in others.


lee-maxeyLee Maxey, CEO, MindMax

I think the biggest challenge is moving away from the credit hour and providing online accommodation and performance support and information that’s relevant. Research universities generate a ton of good new knowledge, but it’s not as accessible as it needs to be.


 Soma ChakrabartiSoma Chakrabarti, Director, Professional and Continuing Studies, University of Delaware

We try to approach innovation via design school thinking. . . [It] creates a kind of harmonious environment and people are not threatened. . . [I]t’s a softer way to make people understand the changes they can make to make a difference and then let them come up with the solution and have cross-disciplinary teams innovate together.

 melody-bucknerMelody Buckner, Director of Digital Learning and Online Education, University of Arizona

I think sometimes we need to look at programs through the lens of backwards design. Asking the students, asking the employers, what do you need of our programs and designing programs for the need instead of designing programs and thinking “build them and they will come.”


michael-mcguireMichael McGuire, Dean, University of Denver University College

Accelerated use of learning analytics to personalize the learning.




 How does federal policy impact our institutional strategies for online learning?


will-webbWilliam Webb, Director of Instructional Design, Northeastern University

So much of what underpins the work that we’re doing is established by policymakers in D.C., and if we don’t have the right policy coming out of the Department of Ed, coming out of the White House, we’re going to be continuing to face these uphill battles. If we don’t get the right policy, we’re not going to be able to sustain the industry as it is today.

bill-chismarWilliam (Bill) Chismar, Dean of Outreach College, University of Hawaii at Manoa

The thing [that] was most provocative was the statement that colleges need to move from trying to get students more college-ready to get[ting] the colleges more student-ready.


melody-bucknerMelody Buckner, Director of Digital Learning and Online Education, University of Arizona

[O]ne of the questions that was posed [was about]. . . bringing down the cost of higher education. But government regulations keep increasing. More regulations raise the cost because we have to administer them. And I think that’s something for the government to think about, for the Department of Education, especially with the Higher Education Act and also state regulation (SARA). The more regulations that are imposed on higher ed, the higher the cost because of administration requirements.

Where is the future of higher education and our mission of access?


anthony-morrisAnthony Morris, Director of Education Innovation, CPDLive

I think we need to look at education as something that exists from birth to death. Currently, we fund it as little chunks of our life where we get a degree.  We need to be asking the question: how do we actually fund a lifelong journey of education, not just a little segment.

[H]igher education . . . is not going to take place between a few years after secondary school. That model is last century’s model. And so the conversation must be around how do we fund and create a structure which has a whole community. We’re not just talking about government; we’re talking about corporations and institutions, individuals taking responsibility, and so on. How do we have a funding structure that actually supports that whole process?

Monique LaRocqueMonique LaRocque, Associate Provost, Division of Lifelong Learning, University of Maine

What’s most interesting right now is the concept of unbundling our education and what that looks like. We’re looking at micro-credentialing and badging and all that. I’m curious about how all of that is going to evolve. And I’m also curious whether some aspects of our traditional education architecture, our traditional system, will evolve with us as well. It’s exciting to be a part of the big thinking around such issues. Traditional education worked well for many of us, but times are changing, our students are different today, so we have to evolve differently.


steve-shottsSteven Shotts, CEO, Educational Testing Consultants

Education has historically been seen as a bridge across the gulf of haves and have-nots, but today it might actually be contributing to the widening of that gulf. We need access for students of color and students from economically stressed backgrounds. If we don’t make active steps to ensure accessibility, then only those that have the money to afford higher education are going to be able to thrive in the future environment.