Nick Floro believes we have the technology to take learning experiences to the next level. It’s just a matter of understanding your audience, knowing the capabilities of the new tools, and using them inventively to create amazing experiences.

Nick Floro: ‘We need to take into account our audience’s needs and challenges and develop the best strategy for them with the available tools.’

“When designing online courses, you have to think about where you and your learners will be in two to five years in a next-generation digital learning environment,” says Floro, CEO of the software company Sealworks Interactive Studios. “If you design them the old way, using systems that have been around for years, your courses will soon be extinct.”

Floro will point the way toward higher education’s future at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference, hosted by the University of Wisconsin-Madison on July 25-27. In his keynote speech, “Designing eLearning: The Future Is Today,” he will investigate the latest tools and design strategies that attendees can begin using right away. He’ll also show how good design in our everyday world can be a source of inspiration for teaching with technology.

“My talk will cover everything from analytics, to brainstorming and prototyping new digital approaches, to the coming shift to mobile learning,” Floro says. “I’ll show how educators can find what works best for their learners while also saving time and money.”

The Distance Teaching & Learning Conference has helped educators stay on top of emerging technologies for more than 30 years. It attracts college faculty and administrators, instructional designers, researchers, corporate and military trainers, and vendors of new technologies and services, who network with colleagues and learn evidence-based strategies from experts in the field. Drawing on current research, the conference explores state-of-the-art teaching practices that improve outcomes for learners.

It’s all about change

Floro will demonstrate many new tools during his talks, highlighting their pedagogical potential. The key, he says, is recognizing what these tools can do, using them to better connect with learners and thus improve learning.

The Distance Teaching & Learning Conference explores state-of-the-art teaching practices that improve outcomes for learners.

“It’s not just about dropping your content onto some expensive new platform,” he says. “We need to take into account our audience’s needs and challenges and develop the best strategy for them with the available tools. That’s how you create magic.”

In today’s rapidly changing educational environment, Floro stresses the need for flexibility. He likes the move toward micro-learning not only because it supports better learning, but also because it allows educators to test out an approach and abandon it quickly if it’s not working. Instead of creating long lecture-type video presentations, for example, he recommends that instructors design and build learning modules in shorter segments.

In her keynote speech, Michelle Weise will discuss ‘“Disruptive Design for the Future of Online Learning.’

“If you make smaller bites, you’re able to exchange or update a lot faster if certain parts aren’t resonating with students,” Floro says. “It’s all about change today: building things quicker, seeing what works, and being able to adjust.”

The 2017 Distance Teaching & Learning Conference features more than a hundred sessions, including presentations by national leaders in distance education. Along with Floro, the keynote speakers are University of Wisconsin-Madison Prof. Richard Davidson, who will discuss “Cultivating the Skill of Well-Being: Implications for Teaching and Learning”; and Michelle R. Weise, executive director of the Sandbox Collaborative at Southern New Hampshire University, who will explain “Disruptive Design for the Future of Online Learning.”

For more information about the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference, see here or contact director Les Howles, les.howles@wisc.edu, 608-265-9753; or conference manager Kimary Peterson, kimary.peterson@wisc.edu; 608-265-4159.