I spent two days last week in Honolulu attending and presenting at the 2011 Hawaii International Conference on Education. With me were Dr. Karan Powell, our Academic Dean and Dr. Phil Ice, our Director of Course Design, Development, and Metrics. The three of us co-presented on four different topics, Optimizing Faculty Workload and Learning Effectiveness in Distance Education; Semantic Mapping of Learning Assets; Comprehensive Assessment of Student Retention in Online Learning Environments; and Using Data to Assess Learning Effectiveness, Student Retention and Institutional Productivity in Online Programs. With the exception of the last lecture that was designated a workshop, the format of the conference booked four different presentations in the same room for a 90-minute period. Because of the format, we were able to attend and participate in multiple presentations other than ours without leaving the seminar room.
While our topics were organized under the headings of Distance Education and Technology in Education, they were not limited to higher education and thus, some of the presenters had topics that related to K-12, language training, and teacher training. What amazed me about this year’s conference is that most of the presenters in our segments were from traditional educational institutions. At APUS we embrace technology as it is the platform that serves as the foundation for our campus. Because of that, we usually present at conferences with distance education or technology as the theme. With themes of lectures at this conference ranging from training traditional college professors to build and teach in an online class, teaching fractions to fifth graders using a smartphone app, and using Twitter as a means of engaging students outside the traditional classroom, the other presenters represented a segment of educators that I have generally not seen at the more technical conferences.
Education is criticized for its slow rate of change. While some of us have been utilizing technology to deliver instruction online for nearly 20 years, perhaps 2011 is the year we will look back and see a significant increase in the adoption of technology to enhance traditional K-12 and Higher Education instruction and learning. In Disrupting Class, Clayton Christensen and his co-authors predict that 25 percent of high school classes will be online by 2014 and half by 2019. Until this past week, I did not think that their prediction had a chance of being correct. Today, I am much more optimistic.