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George Siemens to Lead Digital Learning Research at UT-Arlington

George Siemens, an expert in the field of digital learning known for creating one of the first massive open online courses, has joined The University of Texas at Arlington to lead a lab exploring the critical demands new learning technologies place on higher education. Siemens previously served as a professor at the Center for Distance Education and a researcher and strategist with the Technology Enhanced Knowledge Research Institute at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada.

The Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, or LINK Lab, will open this spring with Siemens as director. Research areas will include:

  • Understanding how traditional universities' role is affected by online learning and the need for and feasibility of systematic change;
  • Exploring the effectiveness of alternative teaching and learning models such as competency-based programs, badging or certificate systems and their relationship to the university; and
  • Examining the growing influence of data and analytics on higher education practices.

"Dr. Siemens is internationally respected for the enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge he brings to making higher education relevant in the digital age," said Samuel Smith, vice provost for digital teaching and learning at the university in a prepared statement. "His new position will give students and faculty at UT Arlington the opportunity to interact with one of academia's best investigators. It also will allow our university to collaborate with other research institutions at the forefront of student success, digital teaching and learning."

"UT Arlington has a very strong online learning component and is well regarded not only in Texas but also nationally," Siemens said in a university press release. "Systems like UTA are unique in that they're taking a blended or hybrid approach to online education and that's where the gap in research exists, where we don't really understand how a university should support students who are taking classes both physically and in an online environment. There are some great opportunities there." Siemens said he looks forward to working with UT Arlington faculty to expand and enhance their use of technology and to bring emerging tools to campus.

Siemens also serves as the director of the MOOC Research Initiative, a project funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation that evaluates MOOCs' impact on teaching and learning. He led a December conference at UT Arlington during which researchers and educators from the United States, Canada, and Europe shared information about MOOCs, their successes and shortcomings.

In addition, Siemens is the author of two books — Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age and Knowing Knowledge — and co-founder of the Learning Analytics and Knowledge conference and the Society for Learning Analytics Research.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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