#OLC15 – Building a Culture of Innovation Through Research, Development, & Leadership in Online Learning

October 15, 2015 – 1:30pm
Lead Presenter: Lawrence Ragan (Penn State, USA)
Brad Zdenek (Penn State University & Center for Online Innovation in Learning, USA)

COIL is a cross-discipline research and development center directed toward transforming learning through online innovations. Programs, services and lessons learned will be shared.

In 2012, Penn State created the Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) with the mission to engage the University’s extensive research enterprise to improve online learning at and beyond Penn State. Building upon over 100 years in distance education and over 15 years of leadership in online education via Penn State’s World Campus initiative, COIL is a cross-discipline research and development center sponsored and supported by colleges and departments spanning the University. The core mission of COIL was intended to guide the transformation of teaching and learning processes by supporting researchers who want to investigate, invent, and implement technologically enhanced online innovations.

Over the past three years, COIL has developed and refined a model to engage diverse constituent groups including faculty, staff and students in conducting first-hand research around a variety of online innovations. Built around COIL’s Research Initiation Grant (RIG) program, this model has led to significant achievements in improving learning at Penn State and beyond and has contributed to the development and nurturing of a community-driven culture of research and development. Additional programs aimed to generate dialog and a culture of innovation will be shared.

This session will highlight the COIL initiatives, services, and programs designed to support and improve the success of learners via online innovations. The COIL Research Initiation Grant program including the process, products, outcomes, and related insights will be shared. It will also include discussion and activities intended to contextualize the COIL model for participants and to identify potential for cross-institution collaborations.


  • Goal: Lead and create a conversation and culture of innovation at the university.
  • Innovative ideas sprouting up around the university, but they didn’t really continue beyond one semester. There wasn’t the support or facilitating the ideas to scale across the university.
  • What hasn’t been tried yet?
  • What new or emerging technologies are available?
  • Mission: “The Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL) is a research and development center created to build and sustain a culture of innovation, collaboration, and invention focused on improving teaching and learning. COIL serves faculty, staff and students interested in the transformation of the educational paradigm.”
  • Assist in solving problems (BYOP) and collaborate to align resources across the university.
  • Setting the Stage = Community > Engagement > Impact > Research

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  • Challenges = Determining a Focus, Need to Show Impact, Being Visible, Overlapping goals and missions/situated in a large diverse, distributed institution (aka “turf”) > try to work with these other areas as partners. Moving outside the echo chamber and competing interests. Proof of impact and evaluation.

#OLC15 – The Move to Student-Centered Active Learning Will Not Be Easy

October 15, 2015 – 8:00am
Lead Presenter: Phil Hill (MindWires Consulting, USA) @PhilOnEdTech
Michael Feldstein (MindWires Consulting, USA) @mfeldstein67


As online and hybrid education enter the third decade, there are significant efforts to move beyond the virtualization of traditional face-to-face classroom and instead take advantage of personalization of pedagogies and technologies. This shift has the potential to change the discussion of whether online approaches “can be as good as” traditional approaches to a discussion of how online approaches “can provide better learning opportunities”.

But this move to personalization – centered on the student instead of the course, and focused on active learning – will not be easy. How will personalization change the role of the teach or of the teaching assistant? For that matter, how will personalization change the role and expectations of the student? What institutional changes are required to support these new pedagogical approaches? During this talk we will explore this long-term trend, several of the drivers enabling the change, and the implications for current and future educators.


“The asynchronous, individualized nature of online learning allows differentiation of course content. Students can control a course’s pace to fit their learning styles and abilities.”

“Our research found that interactive course software that provides instantaneous feedback could be particular effective in improving student performance in online courses.” PPIC, Successful Online Courses in California’s Community Colleges

  • Essex County College – Personalized Learning as Active Learning – Video
    • Self-regulated learning is key and placing the focus on the students and their ability to measure their own progress and think about what they are learning and how they are learning.
    • Each student gets instantaneous feedback.
    • Getting beyond virtualizing F2F into something more.
  • ASU Re-Thinking General Education Science for Non-Majors – Video
    • SmartSparrow is being used.
    • Discussion board was used more by the students to help each other. Instructors were also there dedicated to their students and helping them to work through the problems and concepts.
  • Empire State – Transitioning to Active Learning is Hard – Video

We are in the midst of an inflection point in higher education driven by mainstream adoption, different platform designs, and moving beyond the digitization of traditional classroom…