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Dr. Karen Swan

Dr. Karen Swan

Hall of Fame Class of 2015

Dr. Karen Swan is a premier scholar focused on media and learning and more particularly on the world of online learning. She has taught online for more than 15 years and her experiences have guided her scholarly work on learning effectiveness, interactivity, social presence, learning analytics, and learner support in online environments. Her scholarly publications include 150 published articles and book chapters, three books, and a variety of multimedia programs. and she has made more than 100 presentations since 2010. ; Swan has served on more than 35 dissertation committees, including students from around the world. She argues that adult learning theory and methods apply to all adult students, including teaching professionals. Her national and international teaching, advising, research, publications, workshops, presentations, consultancies, and service on boards of directors are grounded in adult learning theory and practice and have significantly influenced and changed the broad field of education.

Swan received the Sloan-C award for Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual and is a member of the Sloan-C Inaugural Class of Fellows. She was named the 2010 Distinguished Alumni from Teachers College, Columbia University and received the 2014 Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award. She has served on the editorial review boards for the Educational PsychologistInternational Journal of InstructionInternet and Higher EducationJournal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, and Journal of Distance Education

Swan has made large-scale contributions as an individual scholar to the understanding of what constitutes quality online learning and how adult learners and professionals in higher education, libraries, K-12, and other learning environments can be successful. She helped develop and disseminate the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, a model with social, teaching, and cognitive presence components, and her research shows how the CoI model may be used to inform course design to improve learning outcomes. Longer term, she will be known for her complex and holistic scholarship and for publications and presentations focused on the design of quality online learning environments, including understanding blended learning. 

Swan has served as conference, program, track, manuscript review, and workshop chair for organizations such as Sloan-C (now the Online Learning Consortium, OLC), American Educational Research Association, Ed Media, International Society for Technology in Education, Association for Educational Communications and Technology, European Distance and E-Learning Network, and Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education. 

Swan is an active member of the University of Illinois—Springfield community where she serves on a number of faculty committees and advisory councils. Prior to this, she was a research professor in the Research Center for Educational Technology at Kent State University where she led pioneering work on ubiquitous computing in K-12 classrooms. 

Swan has demonstrated how powerful and useful engaged scholarship can be across all learning populations, especially professional adults in the field of education.