It’s hard to believe that the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership is less than two years old. Since its launch in 2017, it has become a valued channel for discovering, publishing and sharing important research and insights that support the important work of researchers and practitioners in the field of digital and online learning.
With a great foundation firmly in place, the OLC Research Center is poised to expand its influence. Leading the way will be its new Director, Lynette O’Keefe, Ph.D., who brings an exciting mix of expertise and experience to this important role.
Prior to joining OLC, Lynette served as Director of Learning Enhancement for the Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research, at the University of North Texas. Her experience spans the educational pipeline from K-12 to public universities and community colleges. In addition to her digital learning and leadership roles, she has served in a number of positions in Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management and Educational Partnerships.
“When I think about this new role, I think of it in broad terms,” explains Lynette. “At the base level it’s a really incredible opportunity to provide support for transformation as well as leadership for the online learning community. The potential for online learning is significant, and we’re really just starting to see research in this area become more holistic. This role will allow me to fully explore that potential by creating partnerships, working with practitioners and leaders, and making substantive contributions to OLC’s commitments to quality and innovation.”
Lynette has worked extensively with public, private, corporate and philanthropic organizations, was involved in two State of Texas Star-Award winning initiatives, and led the statewide Texas Reverse Transfer Initiative, resulting in more than 7,000 degrees awarded within the first year of the program and policy mandate.
She also teaches Quantitative Methods and Research Methods courses for the University of North Texas, and has a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, an M.S. in Educational Psychology, and a B.A. in Psychology.
“The thing that really attracted me to this position was the opportunity to combine those common threads of experience with a core research position and have an impact on online learning as a whole,” says Lynette. “Now I see why I’ve had all these experiences.”
Lynette joined the OLC team in February, and has quickly become immersed in her new role. “I dived in feet first,” she says. “Coming in I knew OLC had a long track record of leadership in online education. More recently, the launch of the Research Center was an opportunity for OLC to lead in the field of research. Now I see a lot of opportunity to expand that work beyond production to dissemination. My focus and approach so far has been on how we serve our audiences. It includes original research and critical reflection of current research in the field. We’re at a point where we can expand that work and it’s very exciting.”
Lynette is committed to delivering value for the communities the Research Center serves. She explains, “The challenge with research and online learning is that you can’t just push out research pieces and expect that to be enough. Online learning crosses so many types of roles and has mass impact on students and policies. You have to pay attention to the audiences and what types of research are valuable to them. If we deliver something that is valuable and drives further innovation and solutions, then we’ve got a win.”
When asked how the digital and online learning community should view the OLC Research Center, Lynette says, “I would love for the OLC Research Center to be viewed as a leading resource for the community across various needs and interests. More than being a resource, I hope it can become a space for collaboration, research and innovation.”
Lynette extends that sense of collaboration to her own role, as she sets priorities for the Research Center in the months and years ahead. “I have a vision and mission for the Research Center, but I’m very interested in this work being collaborative,” she says. “I’d love to hear from anyone with thoughts and ideas who would like to be involved. The timing for input couldn’t be more perfect for members, the community and those within OLC, to speak up about what they’d like from the OLC Research Center.”
Contact Lynette and the OLC Research Center with your ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.