Our reflections at EDUCAUSE 2021 | D2L
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Advancing Higher Education Through Information Technology at EDUCAUSE

  • 3 Min Read

The past year and a half has been a disruptive moment for higher education. We have all learned something worth sharing about resilience, transformation, and the common good. In October, we got the chance to attend EDUCAUSE and discuss these developments along with fellow professionals from colleges and universities, corporations, foundations, government, and other nonprofit organizations.

As I look back at the event, it was a success in that it gave us the opportunity to deepen relationships in a non-Zoom environment and at the same time have the more casual discussions that truly forge great outcomes.

The Use of Information Technology (IT) in Higher Education

EDUCAUSE’s mission is to advance higher education through the use of information technology. We have seen firsthand the revolutionary impacts of IT being used to help meet students’ and faculty members’ instructional needs. IT tools have not only broadened the scope and access to education, but they have also helped create engaging and impactful learning environments.

At EDUCAUSE, our team enjoyed the opportunity to develop our relationships with key partners such as Top Hat, Unizin, Zoom, and Ellucian. Together, we discussed their discoveries, grew professionally, and explored solutions to continuing challenges.

Challenges and Successes of Information Technology in Higher Education

A year ago, when academic institutions were learning to create accessible online and remote learning environments. Technology partners, academic institutions, and chief academic officers were looking to understand the internal and external barriers higher education faced in transforming themselves to take full advantage of the new information technologies.

One big observation from the event is that we noticed a shift in discourse from creating alternative learning environments to now having these environments as part of pedagogy. The conversation was no longer focusing on the “push to online learning,” but rather on what we can do now that we have made technology a main component of teaching and learning.

D2L’s Megan Skelly, a client sales executive, and Eric Hultgren, a senior sales executive, shared that they heard from a variety of forward-thinking education leaders who discussed how the shift to online acted as a catalyst at their institutions. While some colleges and universities were reactive in their approach to adapt digital tools to create online learning opportunities, other higher education institutions were more proactive and used this opportunity to launch some pretty interesting initiatives.

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The Future of Teaching and Learning with a Learning Management System (LMS)

Looking forward to the future of higher education, we understand that faculty, students, academic institutions, and higher education leaders are now looking for solutions that do more than just host content that users can access online. Rather, as Eric said, “In this new environment, there is a need and eagerness to create a holistic technology ecosystem that can enhance, extend, and reinforce teaching and learning.” So, what does this mean for an LMS?

This means an LMS needs to have more capabilities than just being able to put a syllabus online. Megan adds that “it means breaking down the silos” and using a system that has the right partnerships and integrations so students can have access to high-quality education, regardless of their age, ability, or location.

Learn How You Can Transform Learning

As we learn to deal with disruptive and challenging times, it’s important that we look back on the innovative practices and new integrations we’ve seen. Although teaching and learning will continue to change, we know that higher education itself will continue to develop and adapt. EDUCAUSE helped us reflect on our strides, our challenges, and our next steps moving forward, and we look forward to staying connected in these discussions.

Learn how you can transform learning with the power of D2L Brightspace and a flourishing community beside you.

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