Illinois Online Higher Education Symposium

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futuristic conference room with people and AI listing participating universities in Illinois

Towards Online Excellence: Illinois Online Higher Education Symposium

The submission window is now closed. Decisions will be sent in mid-August.

Welcome to the Inaugural Illinois Online Higher Education Symposium!
Join us for an engaging experience with Illinois thought leaders and practitioners with expertise in online teaching and learning. Discuss the latest trends in online learning—from pedagogy to technology.
The free virtual conference on November 8th, 2024, is for those who learn, teach, develop, support, or administer online education. 

Target Audience (Presenters and Attendees):

  • higher education instructors who teach online
  • online leaders or administrators
  • instructional designers
  • instructional technologists
  • anyone interested in online learning
While the focus is on Illinois, we invite anyone from anywhere to participate.

Purpose of the Event:

  • Showcase exemplary virtual educational practices.
  • Collaborate and communicate with the community of online and digital educators.
  • Discuss current trends and disruptions in online environments.
  • Share online teaching practices unique to Illinois' history, geography, and demography.


Present at Inaugural Symposium

We are seeking proposals that showcase our vibrant statewide higher education online community. For this inaugural event, we hope to schedule sessions about teaching online, designing online, hybrid, or HyFlex courses, and administering or leading online programs. The conference aims to improve online teaching and learning in Illinois and beyond.

Proposals will be reviewed by other educators who will provide feedback.


  • April 22, 2024: Accepting submissions
  • June 30, 2024: Deadline for submissions EXTENDED >> July 10, 2024
  • August 2, 2024: Notification of acceptance
  • October 1, 2024: Conference schedule released
  • October 25, 2024: Deadline for flash talks, pre-recorded sessions, and digital materials
  • November 8, 2024: Symposium

Themes to Consider:

  • Leading by Example: Visionary Leadership in Online Education 
  • Leadership Strategies for Online Learning Excellence
  • Designing for Online Learning: Pathway Building for Multi-modal (e.g. Traditional, Workplace Learning, Accelerated Programs, and Micro-credentials)
  • Online Pedagogy – Examples of Engaging Practice
  • AI Influences on Online Learning – Practices to use AI
  • Supporting Online Faculty, Students, and Technologies
  • Innovative Hybrid/HyFlex Teaching and Learning Strategies

Review Criteria:

Proposals will be reviewed using the following criteria:

  • Clarity: The proposal is written clearly and professionally.
  • Relevance: The session’s topic is relevant and of current interest to those who teach, administer, support, research or lead online education.
  • Significance: The session will make a notable contribution to the knowledge and/or practice of online education.
  • Completeness: The proposal adequately describes what will occur during the session (not just describing the background and importance of the topic).
  • Alignment: The proposal aligns with one or more of the conference topics.

Step 1: Download & Complete the Proposal Template

Step 2: Submit Your Proposal


Organizing Committee

  • Anthony Piña, Chief Online Learning Officer, Illinois State University
  • Craig Engstrom, Director - Center for Teaching Excellence, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Lisa J. Anderson, Director - Office of Online Learning, University of Illinois
  • Mary Walker-Ettling, Director - Online Services and Educational Outreach at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville
  • Michael Gillespie - Director of Faculty Development and Innovation, Eastern Illinois University
  • Michele Gribbins, Director - Center for Online Learning, Research & Service, University of Illinois-Springfield
  • Nikki LaGrone, Director - Center for Teaching & Learning, Governors State University
  • Susan Wegmann, Director - SIUC Global, Southern Illinois University Carbondale
  • Wenhao David Huang, Associate Head - Education Policy, Organization and Leadership, University of Illinois

Featured Speaker

Profile picture of Dr. Ray Schroeder, Keynote Speaker

Keynote: Ray Schroeder
UPCEA Senior Fellow
Personal Website

Presentation: "Artificial Intelligence in Online Learning"

Online learning continues to be the preferred mode of delivery of higher learning to adult and professional students. The advent of Artificial Intelligence tools and agents have become available to enhance the delivery of learning online. They promise to make our online programs more efficient, effective and flexible for lifelong learning. We will examine the opportunities that these advanced, smart technologies offer and the potential they provide to further extend and expand our online learning programs.


A nationally respected and connected leader in higher education online learning, Ray Schroeder is senior fellow of UPCEA, the online and professional education association, and professor emeritus at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS). With 50 years on the faculty and administration at the Urbana and Springfield campuses of the University of Illinois, Ray is the recipient of numerous national awards and citations for individual excellence and leadership from many associations and entities, including the Sloan Consortium (OLC), US Distance Learning Association, American Journal of Distance Education, Illinois Council for Continuing Higher Education, University of Wisconsin, and University of Illinois. In 2023, Ray received the honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters degree from UIS in 2023 and became the first recipient of the UPCEA Leadership Award for the Advancement of Digital Learning (now renamed the Ray Schroeder Leadership Award for the Advancement of Digital Learning). He is the author of book chapters, articles, widely read blogs, and social media feeds on news and research in online learning/educational technology. Ray is a noted speaker, consultant, researcher, and author on online learning, emerging educational technologies, and technology-enhanced learning topics.