Collaboration a Resonating Theme at EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative Annual Meeting

Mic facing crowd

In late January, three people from the Office of Distance Education and eLearning represented The Ohio State University at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) annual meeting in New Orleans. Associate Vice President Liv Gjestvang presented, while Sam Craighead and Abby Michalowski participated in a leadership program during the conference.

The ELI annual meeting is a smaller gathering of institutions, focused on the educational side of EDUCAUSE’S larger mission to advance higher education through the use of information technology. Attendees explore and share learning principles and practices, all dimensions of student success, and innovation in post-secondary learning.

“ELI is one of my favorite conferences. It is small enough to feel intimate and provide great opportunities to connect with colleagues, and it is big enough to generate new ideas and future partnerships,” Gjestvang said. “This year’s event featured a number of presentations, not just about consortia and collaboration, but about data and learner analytics, augmented and virtual reality, and questions of security and privacy in education.”

Gjestvang and her colleagues from universities around the country teamed up on two presentations—“Collaborating Across Consortia” and “Building Together: The Consortium-Based NGDLE.”

Collaborating Across Consortia

Collaboration within a consortium is common in higher education, and many consortia have overlapping missions. Gjestvang joined members from three national consortia (the Big Ten Academic Alliance, the University Innovation Alliance and Unizin) to present outcomes from recent efforts to improve teaching and learning through collaboration and to engage with participants about the most effective ways to create or expand the role of consortia in their campus work.


Building Together: The Consortium-Based NGDLE

Unizin is committed to building next generation digital learning environments (NGDLEs) on campuses. These NGDLEs are built and branded to meet the unique needs of each institution, but powered jointly by Unizin tools and services. This presentation reviewed the rationale and history of the consortium effort and the opportunities it has created.

“Both of these presentations were opportunities to share the work we are doing at Ohio State—work I’m really proud of around affordability and open content authoring,” Gjestvang said. “These sessions were also opportunities to hear from the national higher education community about what their goals are around collaboration and the big challenges they face on their campuses.”

Participants in both sessions expressed interest in the value of consortia as ways to share best practices across institutions, and scale solutions that individual institutions could not create single-handedly.

“Higher education is a unique field. In our commitment to serving students, schools are very open to working together to create better ways to do our work. Ohio State piloted a model called Content Camp earlier this year, which brought together 14 faculty from six Big Ten and Unizin campuses to author 3,000 free and open assessment questions for use aross the globle. This is a great example of the ways we can work together to make higher education more affordable and more engaging for all of our students.”

Gjestvang is chair emeritus of the Big Ten Academic Alliance Learning Technology Leaders committee. She will present updates, along with the current and incoming chairs, about the group’s work over the past two years to the15 Big Ten chief information officers in March.

Back in September 2017, Gjestvang was named EDUCAUSE’s 2017 Rising Star award recipient for her “exemplary achievement implementing digital technologies in support of the teaching and learning process.” Read more about the honor she received at EDUCAUSE’S annual conference here.