University Leaders Talk eLearning at Innovate Conference

"As we transition from print to digital, it’s not just because we love shiny devices, it’s because our opportunity to learn is unbelievably enhanced as we transition to digital."

Innovate Keynote Speaker Karen Cator
Director, Office of Educational Technology for the U.S. Department of Education.

This March, OCIO had the honor of hosting learning technology pioneers from across the campus, the country, and the world at our annual Innovate conference. The infusion of technology in education has provided invaluable discoveries and this conference brought together leaders who shared their experiences, ideas, and hopes for the future of educational technology.

The theme for this year's conference was transformation—a familiar subject for the panelists who have seen it first-hand in their own departments and classrooms. The standard learning tools are constantly changing into smarter, more dynamic devices. As Vice President and Provost of Academic Affairs Joseph Alutto mentioned in his Innovate address, the number of students using tablets has tripled over the last year, and is expected to continue to grow exponentially.

Many who addressed the conference spoke not just about the desire to transform, but the necessity.

  • Dr. Sorabh Khandelwal, assistant dean for Clinical Sciences at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Center, expressed the need for instructors to adapt to these tools as digital natives start to fill lecture halls. "Our learners in the year 2020—who will they be? They will be students who speak an entirely different language than we speak now. They will try gadgets and technology that haven't even been invented yet, and every student will be like this," he said. "We need to start looking at how these students are going to learn medicine, because it will directly impact your care when you come into the hospital."
  • Jennifer Evans-Cowley, associate dean at Ohio State's College of Engineering, also spoke to this transformation. She's seen technology integration that ranges from electrical engineering labs performed entirely on iPads, to aviation students designing mobile applications using data from the Federal Aviation Administration. "You’ve got to seed innovation," she said. "There's got to be a willingness in the administration to experiment. A lot of these projects are not that expensive in the grand scheme of things and if we get a big win, then it’s well worth it."

For a successful transition from traditional to digital education, technology enhanced learning must catch on university-wide. The panelists discussed the importance of publishing digitally as well as the need to recognize faculty and staff who are making investments in mobile technology. Their advice to other leaders was to provide resources and support for instructors mobilizing their learning tools, and to be flexible with those projects. Accepting failures as lessons learned is often a necessary, valuable part of the learning technology venture.

A video of the panel session in its entirety is available on Learning Technology’s YouTube channel. Other videos from the conference are also published, including the keynote address by US Department of Education Director Karen Cator.

The 2012 Innovate conference had 70 presenters, and participants from 50 institutions, including those who Skyped in from Beijing and Harvard University. We had more than 97% of participants rate the conference as excellent or good, the highest ratings we have ever received. Mark your calendar for next year’s conference on March 26, 2013 at the Ohio Union.

For more information regarding educational technology at Ohio State, contact OCIO Senior Director of Learning Technology Mike Hofherr at or 247-6819.