On January 14, 2011, Dr. Antonella Patras, IUM’s Vice Dean, was a member of a distinguished Round Table discussion as part of a conference entitled: E-Learning: Un Outil Adapte a la Formation Continue et Universitaire”. (E-Learning: A Tool for Higher and Ongoing Education).

The conference, organized under the auspices of the French organization Prospective et Innovation, led by Senator and former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, took place in Paris’ majestic Palais du Luxembourg, home to the French Senate. Opening remarks at the conference were made by Mr. Gary McCullough, CEO, and Ms. Judy Komar, VP for Educational Technology, both of the CEC group, of which IUM is a part. CEC , with 700 course modules on-line, has over 40,000 students currently completing their degrees on-line, and over half a million alumni the world over. It has long been recognized as one of the most innovative and successful forces in the sphere of e-learning.

Other speakers and Round Table participants included such well known commentators and practitioners of e-learning as Sir John Daniel, President of the “Commonwealth of e-Learning” and former Chancellor of the UK’s Open University, one of the first distance learning institutions in the world; Dr. Ellen Scanlon, Professor of Educational Technology at the Open University; Mrs. Marie Christine Saragosse, CEO of the international French media company TV5 Monde; and the Human Resource Directors of two leading French companies, Mr. Francois Abrial of Air Liquide, and Mr. Jean-Claude Legrand of L’Oreal. Senator Raffarin delivered the closing remarks.

The role of e-learning in higher education, as well as in corporate training, is rapidly evolving and is sure to be game-changing. While interactive information technologies have already entered and modified a host of industries and activities, its widest and most far-reaching potential lies in the world of education. From making higher education more accessible to more people around the world, to making the pedagogical process and outcome a more interactive, intuitive, and individualized, student focused one, e-learning will forever change the educational experience. Considerable research has already shown that a combination of face-to-face and on-line learning—the so-called ‘hybrid’ approach—yields the best student learning outcomes, far surpassing pure on-line and face-to-face scenarios.

How to optimize the individualized learning; interactive student-to- student and student-to-instructor relations; and dynamic program integration—now all feasible thanks to e-learning technologies and pedagogies—into the educational process is the challenge ahead.