Distance Teaching & Learning Conference panel looks to the future of higher education

Image of a man with a tablet in his hands. He presses on the icon graduation hat cap. E-learning future concept

How will the next stage of the digital revolution transform higher education? 

A panel of national thought leaders will explore this question in a keynote presentation at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison, August 6-8. 

“We’re excited to bring internationally recognized experts together to consider the topic of expanding education to reach new audiences, with an emphasis on online learning, and discuss how universities can position themselves to excel in the future,” said Jeff Russell, vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. 

Chief among the topics of conversation will be how universities can harness the power of creative combination. Just as Instagram uniquely merged two existing ideas—digital photography and social networking—so too are traditional tenets of higher education being disassembled and combined with technologies. Panelists will examine how these technologies might extend education to more diverse learners, and how higher education can position itself today to meet the global demands of the future.

Entitled “An Emerging Era: How the Next Digital Revolution Will Transform Higher Education,” the keynote panel session will be held on Thursday, August 8, 8-9:30am, in the ballroom of the Monona Terrace Convention Center. 

Keynote panelists in online education and lifelong learning from higher education institutions across North America include:

  • Nelson Baker, dean of professional education, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • Rovy Branon, vice provost for Continuum College, University of Washington
  • Renata Engel, vice provost for online education, Penn State University
  • Julie Greenwood, EdPlus vice dean for educational initiatives, Arizona State University
  • Jeffrey S. Russell, vice provost for lifelong learning and dean of the Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison

The panel will be moderated by Jeff Snell, advisor to the dean, Division of Continuing Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“The leaders assembled for this panel represent some of the field’s most cutting-edge, innovative, and successful models of online learning,” says Snell. “Audience members will gain insights from their breakthrough experiences and thought-provoking assessments of what’s on the horizon.” 

Learning technology

Man on stage wearing virtual reality goggles with arm outstretched standing next to projection of what he sees
Education and technology professionals will consider technology’s role in enhancing learning and engagement for distance learners–both now and in the future.

Now in its 35th year, the University of Wisconsin–Madison Distance Teaching & Learning Conference invites collaboration, connection, and network-building by gathering thought leaders and practitioners to spotlight best practices and evidence-based approaches to distance education. More than 800 higher education faculty members, staff, instructional designers, and workforce trainers are expected to attend.

The future—and its technology—will be a popular topic of conversation.

Keynotes and panels will address emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, multimedia design, and alternative credentials. Keynote speaker Bryan Alexander, internationally known futurist and author of The New Digital Storytelling, will offer a vision of distance education’s next phases, along with laying out the practical steps for getting there. Conference sessions, including “What will online higher education look like in the year 2040?” and “AI in distance learning,” will explore the changing landscape of distance education and how best to prepare for its future.

Organizers say the event and the connections made by participants will allow them to return home armed with new skills, fresh approaches, and the motivation to continue improving their distance learning programs.

For more information and to register for the conference, visit the conference website or contact conference director Wendy Fritz at wendy.fritz@wisc.edu.