Burning Questions and Key Trends in Online, Blended, and Digital Learning Strategy

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session Blended

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Brief Abstract

Join OLC leaders for a reflective conversation on the burning questions and key trends community members are bringing us about online, blended, and digital learning quality and strategy. Select trends matching your focus and hear insights with practical, research-driven resources to move the needle on quality and student success.


Sponsored By


Dr. Nicole Weber is the Assistant Vice President (AVP) of Learning at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC). In this role she works closely with OLC staff and global partners to advance professional development opportunities, continuous improvement efforts, and research in support of quality digital, blended, and online learning. Before joining OLC, she served as the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater where she led online and blended faculty development efforts, technology training for the digital learning ecosystem, and emerging learning technology exploration and evaluation, collaborating across the institution to support student learning and success. Nicole received her PhD in Urban Education specializing in Social Foundations of Education with an emphasis on designing engaging learning environments in 2012.
Dylan Barth is the Director of Professional Learning at OLC. In this role, he is responsible for providing leadership and vision for the Institute for Professional Development, which offers a wide range of virtual programs intended to engage online, blended, and digital learning professionals at every level. Dylan has 20+ years of experience teaching in higher education and 12+ years working in faculty and instructional development. Prior to joining OLC, Dylan worked at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, where he developed and facilitated workshops and offered departmental and individual consultations to instructors teaching online, blended, and face-to-face courses; at UWM, he also taught courses in Women’s & Gender Studies and the Honors College. Dylan graduated from OLC’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) program in 2017 and has served as a track chair for several OLC conferences. Dylan holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with an emphasis on masculinities in contemporary post-apocalyptic fiction.
Dr. Abby McGuire serves as the Director of Research at the Online Learning Consortium where she supports the OLC’s research efforts and advances the reach and impact of the OLC’s Research Center. Abby collaborates with scholars, practitioners, OLC team members, and external partners to design and implement initiatives and publish research that advances online, blended, and digital teaching and learning. Abby loves creating and sharing ideas to deepen understanding and shift perspectives about teaching and learning. She is a bold, creative thinker and educational leader with professional writing, editing, and consulting expertise, and she is a higher education professional with more than a decade of experience in administrative and faculty roles. Abby holds a Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership and a Master of Arts in English Composition and Communication from Central Michigan University.

Extended Abstract

Even prior to the COVID-19 Pandemic, OLC noted marked growth in interest in online learning quality and adoption of education technology across the field. We have and continue to strategically position ourselves to be on the cutting edge of multiple aspects of online, blended, and digital learning in order to best support our community and help influence the direction of our field. The World Economic Forum reports that edtech investments reached close to $19 billion in 2019 before the pandemic and the overall market for online education is now projected to reach $350 Billion by 2025. Whether through learning management systems, video conferencing tools, open resources and platforms, or other online learning software, there has been a significant surge in digital learning exploration, use, and interest in the potential applications of digital learning peri- and post-Pandemic. So what is OLC doing to support institutions as they evolve?  

Specific to our community, each and every day OLC fields numerous inquiries from instructors, instructional support staff, training professionals, and administrators at higher education institutions and systems, K12 schools and districts, nonprofits, industry, and government entities about recent efforts to deepen digital learning specific to institution or organizational goals. This session is aimed at synthesizing some of these recent trends in service areas, solutions, and research interests that we are aggressively scaling our work and involvement to support what you are doing day in and day out in your institutions.  

During this session the following key topics and questions will be addressed: 

  • How can my school, institution, or organization leverage what we put in place during the pandemic to move from remote to quality digital, blended, and online courses, programs, and overarching strategy? What does OLC typically offer in support of these needs?
  • How can my school, institution, or organization put learners at the center of the educational experience? What has OLC learned in regards to evolving expectations for digital learning, services, and support?
  • How can my school or institution organization provide flexible instructional development experiences that prepare our instructors in understanding the pedagogy and technology around teaching digital, blended, and online courses? 

OLC’s value proposition has always been that its work sits at the intersection of a dynamic, member-driven community and its interest and solutions are focused on the holistic online learning experience, considering multiple forms and functions of online, blended, and digital learning including courses, programs, student supports, and courseware. 

Join us as we reflect on the current lay of the land as we have been seeing it, dialogue with us on your connection to these themes and trends, and let’s jointly vision how the OLC can support your professional learning needs as our field continues to evolve.