Imaginative, Strategic, Sustainable: A Call for an Online Learning Future Designed for Students' Lived Experiences

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Brief Abstract

The impact of widespread remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed a lasting need for educators to assess the use of online learning technologies in their teaching and design practice critically. Yet starting conversations about critical and strategic technology usage in online learning can be a challenge to untangle from the now-inseparable pairing of remote learning experiences during the pandemic with trauma. As we move forward, we can recognize the trauma experienced during the pandemic, while also naming sustainable approaches that will continue to be care-oriented. Building this vision for online learning will require: 1. breaking down the long-existing false binary between "online" and "in-person" learning experiences, 2. designing activities that are increasingly attentive to students' embodied experiences of being online, and 3. empowering students to engage in reflective feedback about their experiences continuously. To engage with these three components of a sustainable and imaginative future for online learning, we will look to our past before engaging with our future. Participants will be invited to name and share how they imagine a future for online learning that is aligned with students' full lived experiences of pursuing an education. In the process, we'll consider instructional approaches that designers, instructors, and technologists can take to build courses that are clear, navigable, resilient, and accessible.

Prior to the start of the keynote, we will recognize our 2022 OLC Innovate Award winners.  Please also join us Tuesday, March 29 from 10:15am-11:15am US Central Daylight Time Zone (CDT) for our OLC & MERLOT Awards Gala & Social, where we will celebrate our award winners' achievements and have the opportunity to ask them questions.


Jenae Cohn writes and speaks about how to support engagement, communication, and critical thinking in digital learning experiences. She currently works as the Director of Academic Technology at California State University, Sacramento and has held prior roles at Stanford University and University of California, Davis. She is the author of the book, Skim, Dive, Surface: Teaching Digital Reading (West Virginia University Press, 2021), and contributes to The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, and Faculty Focus. Supporting instructors in mindful approaches to digital pedagogy, she leads workshops and events for colleges nationwide. As a researcher, she explores digital literacy, student experiences with online learning, and reading and writing across the curriculum. Learn more at or on Twitter @jenae_cohn.

Extended Abstract