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Join us for the 8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium, April 22-24, 2015 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Dallas, TX
CFP will open October 1, 2014

Check out the Conference Wrap-up pages from the 2014 conference. 

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Watch the Keynote Address
Reclaim Learning: A Domain of One's Own
Keynoter Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, shares innovations that support the ethos of open environments for online teaching and learning. 

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Jim Groom, University of Mary Washington, to deliver Keynote Address

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Save the Dates

22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Mess in Online Education: How it is, How it Should Be

Amy Collier (Stanford University, USA)
Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh, UK)
Session Information
April 11, 2014 - 8:00am
Institutional Level: 
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Plenary Session
Lone Star A/B
Session Duration: 
75 Minutes
Virtual Session

To quote John Law (2007), ‘the world is largely messy’, and so is the education, learning and teaching that goes on in the world. Mess can mean many things: unpredictable, complex, diverse, uncertain, risky, disruptive and disrupted. Mess can mean unruly and creative. It can even mean ‘broken’. Mess, however, is not a bug - it’s a feature. If, as online educators, developers, policy makers, designers and researchers, we don’t attempt to work with the messiness of learning, we will not be able to make really meaningful educational experiences online, or make meaning from the online experiences that our students, faculty and colleagues are having.

In this plenary session, Jen and Amy offer some ideas about how and why we should stop offering and accepting promises of simplicity through educational technology. Tidiness, order and sameness should never be our ultimate goal when it comes to fostering great online learning. Through stories, examples and provocations, we’ll try to convince you to abandon simplicity and embrace mess in your digital educational practices.

Law, J (2007) Making a Mess with Method. In W. Outhwaite and S. Turner (eds) The SAGE Handbook of Social Science Methodology. London: SAGE.

Lead Presenter
Amy Collier

Amy Collier (Stanford University, USA)

Dr Amy Collier is the director for digital learning initiatives for the Office of the Vice Provost for Online Learning. Overseeing a variety of curriculum development and teaching initiatives, she partners with faculty to create high impact online learning experiences by designing online and blended courses. She also conducts research to inform effective online learning practices across the University. As a result, Collier is well known as a persuasive advocate and invaluable resource for evidence-based instructional improvement, strategy, and planning.

Before coming to Stanford, she was the director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Texas Wesleyan University where she and her team implemented nationally recognized faculty development programs for online learning and learning space redesign. With a PhD in the social sciences from Texas Woman’s University and a professional background in faculty development, Collier has proven to be a strong advocate for teachers and learners.

Jen Ross

Jen Ross (University of Edinburgh, UK)

Dr Jen Ross is a lecturer at the University of Edinburgh, and the program director of the fully online Masters in Digital Education (http://digital.education.ed.ac.uk). She teaches, supervises and researches in the field of online education, with particular interests in digital futures, identity and audience online, assessment, cultural heritage education, distance education and openness (http://jenrossity.net). She has been based at the University of Edinburgh since 2004.

Jen is part of the teams that developed the ‘E-learning and Digital Cultures’ MOOC (https://www.coursera.org/course/edc), and the Manifesto for Teaching Online (http://onlineteachingmanifesto.wordpress.com), and she is currently working with policymakers in the Scottish Parliament on developing shared understandings of online and distance learning and its potential in Scotland. In 2012 and 2013 she led the ET4Online Unconferences.