October 17-20, 2017

Vancouver, BC

E-Learn Keynote & Invited Speakers


Rajiv Jhangiani, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

Linda Harasim

Linda Harasim, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Ron Owston

Ron Owston, York University, USA


Rovy Brannon

Rovy Brannon, University of Washington, USA



Thursday, October 19, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and Collaborative Learning: Designing 21st Century E-Learning


Linda Harass

Linda Harasim, Simon Fraser University, Canada

Abstract – E-learning today is on the precipice of unprecedented civilizational and technological challenges.  This presentation explores how meeting these challenges can open new vistas for e-learning, based on the successful integration of two disparate components: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Collaborative Learning (CL).  AI is driving technological development in all sectors of human endeavor, surpassing humans in both physical and cognitive performance. The fundamental question and challenge today is: Can AI technology be designed to support and advance human learning, creativity, innovation and productivity rather than replacing it? And if so, how?

Collaborativism, as a theory of online learning, focuses on what we have learned during the last century about how humans learn best: discourse and intentional collaboration. For hundreds of thousands of years, advances in civilization have been based on the development of technologies that support collaboration within our species. It is time to explore how AI might be designed to AUGMENT human learning rather than supercede it, by using collaborativist theory and pedagogy to frame e-learning research, development, practice and technology worldwide.

Biography – Linda Harasim, a Professor of Communication at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, is a pioneer in the field of online education and e-learning. In 1986 she conceptualized, designed and taught the first-ever online university course using the Internet (a graduate course at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education – OISE), within the Graduate School of Education at the University of Toronto. Drawing from the best of what we have learned over the last century about how humans learn best, Harasim has been teaching online, conducting research, publishing, and building the field for 35 years. She pioneered the pedagogy of online collaborative learning and developed the Collaborativist Theory of Learning. She has served as senior consultant for many large-scale programs, designing the University of Phoenix Online, designing the first online training system for the Bank of Montreal, and providing training for a number of universities and organizations worldwide.  She is considered a luminary in the field, having published 6 books on the subject of online education and e-learning, 15 book chapters, 25 refereed articles, and 30 keynote presentations around the world. Her writings have been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, and Chinese.

In 1995, Dr. Harasim founded and became the Network Leader and CEO of Canada’s TeleLearning Network of Centers of Excellence,  a seven-year, $50 million program to study, develop, and commercialize elearning technologies, pedagogies and knowledge. She is currently studying how Collaborativist Learning Theory can be used to refocus the design of AI to augment, rather than replace, human intelligence.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Blended Learning: Is There an Optimal Mix of Online and Face-to-Face Instruction?

Ron Owston, York University, USA

Abstract – One of the first questions instructors ask when setting out to develop a blended or hybrid course is how much time should be devoted to online activities and how much to face-to-face sessions. Organizations offering blended courses typically want an answer to this question as well so that they can efficiently schedule classroom space. When instructional designers are approached for help with the issue the reply is typically that it depends on what the instructional goals are and the nature of the course. Unfortunately this answer, while appropriate, is less than satisfying as both instructors and organizations want to know whether they should be thinking about devoting, say, a quarter of the course to online activities, half, or even more. Despite nearly two decades of research about blended learning the literature offers very little guidance on the issue. The consensus across many studies comparing online, blended and traditional classroom instruction is that participants in blended courses perform moderately better than those in either in fully online or face-to-face courses. This suggests that there may well be a “sweet spot,” a mixing of the two instructional modes that is optimal for learning. For the past several years Dr. Owston and his colleagues have been investigating this question in a large institutional setting. In this presentation he will first review some of the strengths and limitations of blended learning, and share the somewhat surprising findings of his research on participant achievement and satisfaction across a variety of blended courses where the mixes of online and face-to-face activities varied. His goal will be to provoke thought and discussion on the issue and provide direction to instructors and organizations when planning blended learning courses and programs.

Biography – Dr. Ron Owston is a professor of education, former Dean of the Faculty of Education, and founding Director of the Institute for Research in Learning Technologies at York University, Toronto, Canada. In 2007, York University awarded him the honorary title of University Professor for his “extraordinary contribution to the University as a colleague, teacher, and scholar.” A pioneer in teaching with the web since its early days, he specializes in the evaluation of technology-based educational programs in K12, government, higher education, and continuing professional education. He has spoken at numerous national and international conferences about blended and online learning, and published over 60 articles in refereed journals, including one of the first academic examinations of the role of the Web for teaching and learning in Educational Researcher. Currently, he is researching blended learning in higher education settings.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Open: The Philosophy and Practices That Are Revolutionizing Education and Science

Keynote Speaker: Rajiv Jhangiani, Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Canada

Abstract – Higher education may be a vehicle for economic and social mobility, yet it is often structured in a way that reinforces existing inequalities. Consider for example the crushing burden of student loan debt and that a majority of students in North America do not purchase at least some of their course textbooks because of their high cost. Likewise consider that publicly-funded research that is enhanced by publicly-subsidized peer review is routinely gifted to commercial publishing companies and thereby made unavailable to the taxpaying public or those in the developing world. Or that contemporary science strongly incentivizes the adoption of questionable research practices and trading off unsexy but cumulative research for flashy but non-reproducible findings.

It is against this backdrop that the open education, open access, and open science movements have been running separate—if parallel—courses, steadily transforming the higher education landscape in the process. In each case, digital technologies are being leveraged to enhance access, agency, and rigour in the service of both justice and progress. This talk will make explicit the shared foundation of these movements, showcase their disruptive potential through a few representative case studies, and critically reflect on both their pitfalls and future potential.

Biography – Dr. Rajiv Jhangiani is the University Teaching Fellow in Open Studies and a Psychology Professor at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, Surrey, Canada, where he conducts research in open education and the scholarship of teaching and learning. A recipient of the Robert E. Knox Master Teacher Award from UBC and the Dean of Arts Teaching Excellence award at KPU, Dr. Jhangiani serves as the Senior Open Education Advocacy and Research Fellow with BCcampus, an Associate Editor of Psychology Learning and Teaching, and a faculty workshop facilitator with the Open Textbook Network. Dr. Jhangiani’s most recent book is titled Open: The Philosophy and Practices that are Revolutionizing Education and Science (2017, Ubiquity Press, CC-BY).



Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Technology and the Educational Divide: Starting with Belief

Rovy Brannon, University of Washington, USA


Abstract: Why do we do what we do? Are you an innovator, disruptor, or an AV geek run amok in an online multi media paradise? As the technological options proliferate, we have made great strides in helping more people access college. Globally, the percentage of people holding a baccalaureate in 2006 was 1% and by 2016 that number had increased to 7%. While that is impressive growth, 93% of the global population is missing this increasingly critical educational experience. As faculty, administrators, and technologists make decisions about the future of our great universities, having clarity about why we do what we do is critical. When envisioning a new strategic plan, the University of Washington’s Continuum College (UWC2) decided to start with “why.” Previously, the unit had defined itself through what it did or how it got the work done. A statement of belief is not a mission statement, slogan, or a tagline. It is simply a way to focus everyone in the organization on what matters most. UWC2 exists because “Everyone deserves education to thrive in an ever-changing world.” Once that belief statement was clear, how and what we came into focus. Decisions about program types, technology, and future investment are now viewed through the lens of our shared belief. Dr. Branon will explore the UWC2 journey to articulate belief and describe how starting with why can facilitate change and motivate your institution.


Rovy Branon is the vice provost for University of Washington Continuum College. In this role, he oversees all UW Professional & Continuing Education programs and staff. Continuum College serves over 50,000 learners annually through 80 professional degrees, 160 certificates, International English Language Programs, Summer Quarter, UW in the High School, Conference Services, the Osher Lifelong Learning Center, and more.

Dr. Branon serves on the national board of directors for the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) and chairs the Diversity and Inclusivity committee. He is also a member of the Continuing Education Research University Deans. In Washington State, Branon serves on the Seattle Region Partnership Committee; intended to find solutions to the economic and educational divide in the Puget Sound area.

Previously Branon was the associate dean for online learning and the executive director of the Academic Advanced Distributed Learning Co-Lab at the University of Wisconsin-Extension in Madison. During his time at the University of Wisconsin-Extension, his research focused on educational technology and yielded a patented mobile learning framework and numerous publications and presentations.

Prior to his work in higher education, he led instructional design teams at Eli Lilly and Company in Indianapolis for more than five years. In his early career, Branon spent eight years as multimedia coordinator for the Kelly Space Voyager Planetarium and IMAX projectionist at Discovery Place in Charlotte, NC.

Branon holds a Master of Education in Instructional Systems Technology from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and a Ph.D. in Instructional Systems Technology with a minor in Human-computer Interaction, from Indiana University.

He is a regular speaker at many training and education conferences covering a range of topics including learning technologies, instructional design trends and building organizational effectiveness.