The Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning

Applications for the 2017 program will be accepted beginning in early spring 2017. The onsite program will run August 7th through 10th, 2017. Sign up to receive updates.

The Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) is a unique blended-learning leadership development program sponsored by Penn State and the Online Learning Consortium. Now in its 8th year, IELOL serves the development needs of emerging leaders responsible for a variety of online learning initiatives. Participants connect and network with colleagues from around the world as well as join a growing network of leaders in higher education. IELOL is a five-month blended program exploring aspects of personal, local and global leadership challenges in online learning in which participants:

  • Join a growing network of an international professionals engaged in leadership in online learning.
  • Interact with national and international-level leaders in the field of higher and online education.
  • Experience leadership-development thinking in order to respond to online learning opportunities.
  • Participate in an immersive, team-building case study.
  • Formulate a strategy for defining of a vision for the future of online learning within your institution.
  • Receive a one-year annual individual membership in Online Learning Consortium (OLC).
  • Participate in a network of professionals and engagement with a growing IELOL alumni community.
  • Receive a complementary registration to the IELOL Masters Class as a part of the Online Learning Consortium annual conference.

IELOL is a four-part leadership development program consisting of four components spanning July – November 2016. The program begins with a three-week online Primer experience designed to identify and focus attention on key leadership challenges in online learning. The second component is the Immersion experience held on-site at Penn State that enables the IELOL participant to develop specific leadership skills, styles, networks, and strategies for leadership by understanding the dynamic forces in the field. A three-week follow-up then takes place online in the form of a Project component that provides senior-level mentoring and consulting for the participants as they apply the newly-acquired skills and information in their local settings. The program culminates with the IELOL Masters Class, a pre-conference workshop at the annual Online Learning Consortium conference in Orlando, FL.

IELOL is a cohort-based program requiring a variety of individual, group, and team project work including a team-based case study. It is expected that participants fully participate in all aspects of the program in order to build community and maximize the potential of this program for all participants.

The IELOL community consists of over 275 alums who continue to network and use the skills they developed during the program. We have received many enthusiastic testimonials and some excellent feedback that continues to help shape the program year after year.

“It changed my career. It gave me a community to be part of, full of colleagues and friends who can be counted on. The collaborations across institutions and across alumni years are incredible.”   — Garvey Pyke, IELOL 2010


  • Explore and define a personal understanding of leadership in online learning.
  • Develop an understanding of the role of online learning in a rapidly changing higher education context.
  • Conceptualize a leadership perspective to address institutional challenges in higher education.
  • Recognize and seize institutional opportunities for leadership in online education.
  • Establish a network of international colleagues involved in a variety of online education initiatives.
  • Identify the leading forces impacting higher education and online learning globally.


The fee for participation in IELOL is $2,795 and includes:

  • All learning activities, program materials, refreshment breaks, continental breakfasts, receptions, four lunches and Wednesday dinner as part of the on-site program; registrants are responsible for all other meals and lodging.
  • Access to the two online instructional components (three weeks each), facilitated by IELOL faculty and alumni.
  • Registration for the IELOL Pre-conference Workshop at the Annual OLC Conference. (*Please Note: Full conference registration to the OLC Annual Conference is NOT included.)
  • A one-year individual membership in the Online Learning Consortium (non-members only). If a participant is already registered with an individual membership in OLC, a future year of individual membership will be provided.

Program Deadlines

February 8th: IELOL 2016 open for applications
April 18th: IELOL 2016 application submission deadline
April 22th: Notification of Acceptance
April 29th: Confirmation of Acceptance

July 1: Registration deadline
July 1: Hotel reservations due

IELOL Primer (Online): July 11–July 29, 2016
On-site: August 8–11, 2016, State College, Pennsylvania
Project (Online): and September 19–October 7, 2016
OLC Pre-conference Workshop: Tuesday, November 15, 2016, Orlando, FL

Overview webinar and information session: Friday, March 4, 2016 at 12:00pm ET Register here.

This webinar is hosted by Co-directors Larry Ragan and Meg Benke, and will feature special guests from previous IELOL programs. We will highlight the cohort-based professional development program for new and experienced leaders to the field of online learning. An overview of the time commitment, program objectives and participant experience will be discussed. Questions and comments are welcomed.
*Recording of last year’s webinar

Who Should Attend

The IELOL program is designed for:

  • Individuals positioned for leadership roles within their institutions.
  • Individuals with occupational titles such as manager, associate director, assistant director, vice provost, etc…
  • Individuals with leadership responsibilities related to online learning initiatives.

Applications, with supporting nominations, will be reviewed at the close of the application deadline. Preference will be given to candidates with the following qualifications:

  • Three to five years of experience in higher education.
  • Leaders assuming responsibilities for online learning.
  • Desire to further develop their leadership capability in online education.
  • Ability to apply the leadership skills and competencies to an institutional setting.
  • Willingness to contribute to high-production project teams during the institute.

*Enrollment for IELOL is limited to 50 qualified participants. Multiple applications from the same institution can apply, however, there is no guarantee of acceptance of multiple applicants.

“Participating in IELOL is the single most significant experience I have had in my career, one that is a career changer, literally. Not only was I able to start a project with IELOL that I later saw through to completion at my institution, but I also became part of a community of people in my area of expertise, a community that develops at IELOL and continues, even many years later. It is an invaluable experience for someone who intends to devote their career to online learning.” Angela Velez-Solic




To learn more, register and to apply, visit the IELOL website.


“This program is one of the best professional development experiences I’ve had in the twenty plus years I’ve been in higher education. Rock solid content and amazing faculty!”  

Brian Udermann, Director of Online Education, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse




The IELOL program content was “spot-on” regarding leadership challenges common to universities, and the IELOL facilitators were knowledgeable, engaging, and helpful throughout the program. Best of all, now I am part of an IELOL alum group that is a tremendous resource for me going forward!

Katie Jacobson, Director, Office of Instructional Technology, Point Loma Nazarene University