George Siemens, an internationally
known expert and theorist in the field of digital learning, has joined The University of Texas at Arlington to lead a
lab exploring the critical demands new learning technologies place on higher
The laboratory is called the Learning
Innovation and Networked Knowledge Research Lab, or LINK Lab. It will open this
Siemens also is the director of
the MOOC Research Initiative, a
project focused on Massive Open Online Courses that has been supported by the
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Siemens was one of the originators of open
online education. He taught one of the first open online courses in 2008 while
a professor at Athabasca University in Alberta, Canada.
Siemens is internationally respected for the enthusiasm and wealth of knowledge
he brings to making higher education relevant in the digital age,” said Samuel
H. “Pete” Smith, vice provost for digital teaching and learning at UT
Arlington. “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."
a December conference at UT Arlington during which researchers and educators from
the United States, Canada, and Europe shared information about Massive Open
Online Courses, their successes and shortcomings.
“UT Arlington has a very strong
online learning component and is well regarded not only in Texas but also
nationally,” Siemens said. “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
In addition to numerous
presentations and consulting appointments around the globe, Siemens is the
author of two books: “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age” and
“Knowing Knowledge.” He is co-founder of Learning Analytics and Knowledge, a
yearly conference, and the Society
for Learning Analytics Research.
Some of the areas the new LINK lab
will explore include:
- Understanding how traditional universities’ role
is affected by online learning and the need for and feasibility of systematic
- Exploring the effectiveness of alternative
teaching and learning models such as competency-based programs, badging or
certificate systems and their relationship to the university.
- Examining the growing influence of data and
analytics on higher education practices.
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.
The New America Foundation, based on Washington, D.C., has
honored UT Arlington as a Next Generation University in part for its success
with online degree programs. More
than 10,000 students were enrolled in online classes and degree programs this
fall. The largest of UT Arlington's online programs are offered by the College
of Education and the College of Nursing.
The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research
institution of more than 33,300 students and 2,300 faculty members in the
epicenter of North Texas. It is the second largest institution in The
University of Texas System. Total research expenditures reached almost $78
million last year. Visit www.uta.edu to learn more.