Insights on the National Adult Learner Coalition: Adding Your Voice to the Conversation

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session HBCU OLC Session Community College

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Brief Abstract

The Online Learning Consortium recently joined with CAEL, Presidents’ Forum and UPCEA to form the National Adult Learner Coalition.  If your institution serves contemporary learners, join this session to be part of the movement forward and add your voice to the conversation!  


Dr. Karen Pedersen has a long history serving in various administrative positions in both public and private higher education institutions and is currently in the role of Dean for Global Campus at Kansas State University. Previously she worked as the Chief Knowledge Officer for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) where she served as a thought leader and fostered initiatives related to learning innovation, quality enhancement, leadership development, and institutional transformation. She has expertise leading award-winning online and off-campus units, working with faculty institution-wide, expanding partnerships, engaging cross-institutional academic operations, and pursuing integrated marketing solutions to realize significant enrollment growth and retention outcomes. Other experiences include serving on the launch team for a competency-based education initiative, leading a system-wide enrollment management transformation, and building academic collaborations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil. Prior to starting her administrative career, Pedersen served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska. She holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctor of philosophy degree from Oklahoma State University.
Kathleen S. Ives, D.M. has worked in online technology for over 30 years and is currently the Online Learning Consortium's Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director where she oversees the organization's strategic direction. Additionally, she serves on the EdSurge Advisory Group, the Executive Strategic Council for IMS Global Learning Consortium and on the Leadership Advisory Board for the Center for Learning Innovations & Customized Knowledge Solutions (CLICKS). Formerly, Dr. Ives oversaw all forms of alternative instruction at Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester, MA (distance learning, accelerated programming). She serves as adjunct faculty for graduate and undergraduate business programs at Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston. Dr. Ives began her career at CBS and helped to develop the service that evolved into Prodigy. She then spent fourteen years designing and implementing consumer online information services, first at AT&T and then at Verizon where she spearheaded the development of the nation's first online Yellow Pages product, now called Dr. Ives has degrees in communication, communication management, and organizational leadership from the University of California at Davis, the University of Southern California, Annenberg School of Communication, and the University of Phoenix-Online, respectively. When not steeped in digital and online learning, she serves as a volunteer at both Greater New England Dog Rescue performing site visits for ‘forever homes’ and Great Lakes Caring Home Health and Hospice assisting in patient transition care.
Marie A. Cini, Ph.D., was appointed as Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs in April, 2013, after most recently serving as vice president and dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies at UMUC. Cini had been Dean of the Undergraduate School at UMUC since joining UMUC on February 1, 2008. Her work as provost is to create and implement an academic vision that is learner-centered, high quality, and low cost, based on learning science and technology. She serves as the President of the Online Learning Consortium. Cini has over 20 years of experience with various facets of adult and distance education, building experience with scalable, high quality program offerings. Right before joining UMUC, she held the positions of Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and Interim Dean of the School of Management at City University of Seattle in Bellevue, WA. In these positions, she led several major change initiatives in Academic Affairs. Cini has also served as the Associate Dean of Liberal Arts programs at Thomas Edison State College in NJ (1993), and as a Director of Academic Programs and Associate Professor in the (now) School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University in PA (1996-2001). In both of these positions, she worked collaboratively with teams of faculty and staff to build and improve educational program offerings for adult students. Related to her expertise in leadership studies, Cini served as the Director of Academic Affairs for the Burns Academy of Leadership at the University of Maryland College Park from 2001-2003. Cini has published and presented on the topics of authentic assessment and academic integrity, leadership development in adult learners, retention and adult learners, group newcomers and innovation, and program development across cultures. As an early adopter of online education, Dr. Cini continues to be interested in the scholarship of learning outside of the traditional classroom space. She earned her doctorate in social psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1994, with a focus on the social aspects of learning. Dr. Cini is a Fellow of the Online Learning Consortium.

Extended Abstract

Today’s higher education institutions are serving more contemporary learners than ever before.  While first-time, full-time freshmen living on campus comprise approximately 15% of all students in the US, contemporary learners (sometimes called non-traditional or post-traditional) are the vast majority (85%).  These learners are working and balancing their education and family commitments, they are veterans or active-duty service members, often they are transfer learners or caregivers that need flexible learning opportunities.  These demographics present a game-changing moment in American higher education; a pivotal time at which policy and practice must come to terms with reality. 

The Online Learning Consortium recently joined with CAEL, Presidents’ Forum and UPCEA to form the National Adult Learner Coalition.  If your institution serves contemporary learners, join this session to be part of the movement forward and add your voice to the conversation!