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Noted Researcher Leads New Digital Learning Lab

Internationally known digital learning expert George Siemens has joined UT Arlington as executive director of the new Learning Innovation and Networked Knowledge (LINK) research lab, which explores the demands that learning technologies place on higher education.

The LINK lab investigates how online learning affects the traditional roles of universities, along with the growing influence of data and analytics on higher education. Researchers examine the effectiveness of alternative teaching and learning models such as competency-based programs, badging, and certificate systems.

“Dr. Siemens is highly respected for the wealth of knowledge he brings to making higher education relevant in the digital age,” says Samuel “Pete” Smith, vice provost for digital teaching and learning. “His new position will give students and faculty 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.”

In addition to teaching the first massive open online course (MOOC) in 2008, Siemens directs the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation-funded MOOC Research Initiative.

“UT Arlington has a very strong online learning component and is well regarded not only in Texas but also nationally,” Siemens says. “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.”

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