Nearly 600 to attend NU symposium on technology in education

A University of Nebraska symposium Thursday focused on the use of technology in education is expected to draw nearly 600 faculty and staff from all four NU campuses plus key external partners. The daylong Innovation in Pedagogy and Technology Symposium, hosted by University of Nebraska Information Technology and University of Nebraska Online Worldwide, will include speakers and panel discussions on a wide range of topics related to the opportunities and challenges of incorporating new technology into teaching.

The symposium will be held at The Cornhusker Marriott, 333 S. 13th St. in Lincoln. NU President Hank Bounds will lead off with welcoming remarks at 8:30 a.m. He will be followed by keynote speaker Mark Milliron, co-founder and chief learning officer at Civitas Learning, who will discuss insights on the next generation of learning.

The symposium will close with a discussion about online learning in higher education led by four NU deans: William Jurma, dean of fine arts and humanities at the University of Nebraska at Kearney; Marjorie Kostelnik, dean of the College of Education and Human Sciences at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; Juliann Sebastian, dean and professor in the College of Nursing at the University of Nebraska Medical Center; and John Bartle, dean of the College of Public Affairs and Community Service at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Other sessions will cover topics like the use of social media in the classroom, administering and managing online programs, “virtual reality” learning, women in IT, massive open online courses (MOOCs), and serving students seeking bachelor’s degree completion.

“Technology has dramatically changed the way we deliver education to our students, and keeping pace with the latest advancements is a high priority for the University of Nebraska,” said Mary Niemiec, associate vice president for distance education and director of Online Worldwide. “This symposium is an exciting opportunity to bring together faculty and staff from across the university to hear from industry experts and share ideas on how to use technology to better serve students. I’m delighted so many colleagues are participating and we look forward to a productive event.”

Niemiec noted that the University of Nebraska has seen steady growth in its online programs in recent years. In 2013-14, more than 21,000 NU students – about 40 percent of the student body – took at least one course online, a 27 percent increase over the previous year. Almost 7,400 NU students took all their courses online, a 13 percent increase. More than two-thirds of the university’s distance-only students are from Nebraska, demonstrating a clear need among people in the state for flexible higher education options. Most also are part-time, indicating that distance-only students are balancing their education with other responsibilities such as work and family.

Niemiec said increasing enrollment among distance-only students is a key part of the university’s goal to help grow educational attainment in Nebraska. Online learning is a particularly important strategy for the 290,000 Nebraskans who have completed some college but have not earned a degree.



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