Imagination Summit Explores Future of Higher Education

Event spotlights innovative use of technology in the classroom and beyond

Apr. 16, 2011 By Jenna Bartlo

Imagine reading a book and engaging in a discussion with peers or colleagues while they are halfway across the world. Or sitting in your living room learning alongside an entire class, each in a different state. Or watching an entire university course online without paying any tuition.

These ideas and more were among the imaginative ideas explored at Biola University’s second annual Imagination Summit on April 15, 2011, moderated by author and filmmaker consultant Phil Cooke. The event highlighted collaborative learning and open access to education and the future of technology within higher education. 

The event gave Biola an opportunity to announce its new Open Hands initiative. In which, Biola is exploring ways to give itself away by providing open access to an extensive collection of learning resources.

“As Christians, we feel that it is imperative we share with the world what we have,” said Dave Bourgeois, professor in Biola’s Crowell School of Business.

Open Hands is doing just that. Content created by Biola professors and guest contributors will be posted online on a new “Open Hands” website which will also aggregate the current content Biola has on iTunes U, YouTube, as well as other online platforms. The initiative will open the door for Biola to share and distribute information to a worldwide audience, an effort in line with Biola’s overall mission — to serve the world for the Lord Jesus Christ.

The daylong Imagination Summit featured several leading experts on technology and education, each of whom shared their vision of how technology can be used by universities.

Maureen Girkins, former CEO and president of Zondervan Publishing, stated she doesn’t believe physical books will have a place in the future.

“A [hard cover] textbook won’t be in existence much longer,” she said. “Virtual textbooks will sort of survive because multisensory products improve learning, however, new formats – mixed media books will dominate in education.”

ReThink Books, founded by former CEO of Jason Illian, has taken digital books to a new level for collaborative learning already. Using a shared reading concept, the company’s mobile application allows users to see peers’ notes and comments on digital books, allowing for discussion even when students are not physically together.

The application will publish the NIV Bible later this month digitally in its unique format opening the possibility for small groups and others to read the Bible together and share their comments on it with each other.

Illian suggested that the ReThink Books application isn’t intended to replace face-to-face class discussions amongst students, but can be an important tool in fostering a community and collaborative learning.

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy also spoke at the summit, sharing the restaurant’s philosophy of going the second mile in serving customers. He shared how the company has innovatively used social media to better provide customer service. The quick service restaurant donated lunch to the 600-plus attendees at the Imagination Summit.

At the end of the conference, Crexendo web marketing services also announced the nine winners of their website contest, giving a total of $25,000 in cash prizes to Biola students.

Written by Jenna Bartlo, Media Relations Coordinator. Jenna can be reached at (562) 777-4061 or through email at


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