OLC Collaborate in Kansas City – eLearning in a Digital City

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Kansas City is a dynamic, vibrant city with a rich historical culture, thriving art scene, and engaged community. If you want Bar-B-Q and great music, Kansas City is the place to be. But did you know that Kansas City is also a digital city, one of three Google Fiber Cities in the United States that serves as a focal point for eLearning in the digital age.   It is no wonder then that Kansas City and UMKC have partnered with the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) to host the first Regional OLC Collaborate event (http://olccollaborate.org). Regional OLC Collaborate sessions are intense, one day events that bring together eLearning professionals from around the region to exchange ideas, learn about, and debate issues driving many of the technology inspired changes occurring in higher education.



The first Regional OLC Collaborate session promises to be a great one! Our keynote speakers, all leaders in their fields, will explore the theme of what teaching, learning and working in the Digital Age of Higher Education will be like in the year 2025. Kathleen Ives, the Executive Director of OLC, and I will serve as MCs to establish the ground rules for the day’s events and to help bring together the thoughts and perspectives discussed during the sessions into a regional response to the changing university. Our keynote speakers are:

  • Marshall Hill, the Executive Director of the National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements will talk about the need for educational standards and regulations to protect students as consumers and how technologically inspired innovation can still drive change.
  • John Whitmer, the Director of Platform Analytics and Educational Research at Blackboard, will talk about using learning analytics to create our “preferred” future of higher education as we learn to listen to, and interpret the data underlying changes in higher education.
  • Angie Besendorfer, the Chancellor of Western Governors University – Missouri, will talk about competency-based assessments and the new educational framework embraced by WGU for the university of the future.

Following each keynote address, participants will have a chance to explore each topic in more detail through facilitator-led breakout sessions, culminating in the days final session for the formulation of a regional response to the changing university.

Many of the changes we will be talking about are already upon us. Learning analytics, competency-based assessments, crowdsourcing, and open educational resources are but a few of the digitally enabled approaches we see being implemented today. There is no question that the faculty and institutions of 2025 will routinely be using these tools and practices to engage students, assess learning and restructure the traditional university. Combine these factors with rapidly changing state and federal regulations, changing societal expectations and economic forces and it becomes clear that universities must develop new innovative strategies to adapt to the changing educational environment.   The use of these digital enhanced eLearning strategies will bring about new educational models that will challenge the traditional brick-and-mortar educational experience and fundamentally change the underlying paradigms governing academia today.

  • Predictive analytics will provide greater insight into how students learn, faculty teach, and institutions perform.
  • Digital course collectives will allow for broader course selection, independent learning and personalized learning pathways.
  • Competency-based assessments will make it possible for students to obtain degrees and credentials outside of the confines of traditional university programs at costs significantly lower than today’s tuition-based models.


There is no question that extraordinary change is coming. The question is, how much of that change is within our powers of prediction, and how should we proactively prepare for the future? Join us in Kansas City on February 24th and participate in this open discussion as part of the first Regional OLC Collaborate Event.  

Devon Cancilla


Devon A. Cancilla, Ph.D

Vice Provost for Online and Distance Learning 
University of Missouri – Kansas City

Devon Cancilla is the Vice Provost of Online and Distance Learning at the University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC) where he works with various divisions within UMKC and the UM system to promote, support and develop online programs. Prior to this, he served as Dean of Business and Technology and was an Associate Provost for Learning at American Sentinel University. Dr. Cancilla was the Director of Scientific Technical Services and an Associate Professor in the Department of Environmental Science at Western Washington University where he researched the development of online laboratories through the NSF funded Integrated Laboratory Network (ILN) initiative. Dr. Cancilla received the John R. Bourne Award for Outstanding Achievements in Online education and an Effective Practice award from the Sloan-C (now the OLC) for his work in online science education. Dr. Cancilla continues to promote the use of online science programs with a particular interest in crowdsourcing, citizen science and data driven approaches to online science education


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