This year’s conference promises to bring some exciting ideas to the eLearning table.

Higher education has been in the news a lot lately: From the rising tuition at Wisconsin’s state schools to the recent announcement of a new online degree program through the University of Wisconsin System. It’s an understatement to say the field of higher education is just “changing,” which is why the 28th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison coming next month is so promising– Bringing experts and professionals together to share ideas on distance learning bodes well for the future of higher education, and education in general.

Along with a bounty of workshops and speakers from across the country, the conference’s top-billed events pose some interesting predictions for the future of eLearning.

The two key note speakers at the conference will focus on the hard science and technology behind innovative eLearning technology. Dr. James Zull, professor of Biology and Biochemistry at Case Western Reserve University, will discuss how neuroscience can help people better understand how others learn. Zull will speak to the delicate relationship between the overflow of information available through new technology and how we process and learn it. This is where neuroscience comes in: Understanding how people learn, he argues, will equip educators for the future of education.

The other key note speaker, Judy Brown, will help learners navigate through the uncharted waters of mobile learning to find methods and strategies which will propel learning and on-the-go instructional education. While not many people have educational or instructional apps on their phones yet, Brown predicts a mobile learning landscape where those who can build effective mobile learning apps will be leaders in the eLearning pack.

I’ll be speaking about key strategies to creating effective eLearning with my colleague Penny Ralston-Berg, an instructional designer at Penn State World Campus and co-author of our book, “MindMeld: Micro-Collaboration Between eLearning Designers and Instructor Experts.”

Sure, every student and instructor wants an effective and interesting eLearning course, but how does one create that? Partnerships between instructional designers and content experts can be fraught with communication breakdowns and confusion about roles during development. A key factor is “micro-collaboration,” which is necessary between instructional designers and subject matter experts, and that collaboration can be hard to achieve.

Without that connection, the chance of effectively conveying information in a course is slim. Penny and I will be using our workshop to define “micro-collaboration” as well as discuss important strategies necessary to achieve it. With discussion, games, and examples from educational, corporate and non-profit settings, participants will discover what micro-collaboration is and how it can flatten power relationships, and will develop the strategies necessary to bring back micro-collaborative techniques to their own organizations.

The workshop will be held on Wednesday, August 8 from 9am-Noon. Penny and I will also be doing a special author discussion on Thursday, August 9 from 11:30am-12:15pm. You can register for the conference here.

Managing eLearning is written by the Blog team at Web Courseworks which includes Jon Aleckson, Karissa Schuchardt and Adelaide Blanchard.  Ideas and concepts are originated and final copy reviewed by Jon Aleckson.