The Research

Virtually Inspired is an ongoing research project to uncover the best of breed technology-enhanced online courses and programs indicative of the “Online Classroom of the Future.”

We research globally in pursuit of the best practices in online learning, investigating the latest technologies and examining what is trending.

The methodology followed was to examine several discipline areas–from general studies to specialization areas–and look at innovative approaches by institutions that are revolutionizing education. We examined a range of technologies, including adaptive learning, artificial intelligence, augmented reality, gamification & simulations, holography, learning platforms/tools, robotic telepresence, video, virtual labs, virtual worlds, technologies on the horizon and more.

Examples are from diverse institutions across the world. Each example contains an overview video that links to detailed descriptions, links, photos and video clips.

If you are innovative educators or know of those blazing trails in education we would love to highlight your program. Just let us know.


Our Team: Dr. Susan Aldridge and Marci Powell

Dr. Susan Aldridge


Dr. Susan C. Aldridge, President (Ret.), Drexel University Online.  A highly accomplished and widely recognized higher education leader, strategist, and futurist, Dr. Susan Aldridge has held executive leadership positions in some of the country’s largest universities. 

During her six-year tenure as President of University of Maryland University College (UMUC), she doubled the university’s enrollment to 97,000 – to become the nation’s largest public university – along with its annual revenue from $200 million to more than $400 million. Prior to that, she served 10 years at Troy University in Alabama, leaving as Vice Chancellor for the Global Campus, where she negotiated contracts for and managed satellite campuses in 12 countries overseas and 17 states in the U.S.

Dr. Aldridge recently retired from Drexel University after serving five years as president of Drexel University Online, where she expanded the university’s virtual presence with more than 100 online programs. She also spearheaded the research project around innovative practices in technology-enhanced education, which resulted in the award-winning, open-source website, Virtually Inspired.

Before joining Drexel, she served as a Senior Fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, where she co-authored a book, Wired for Success, with Kathleen Harvatt.  Her professional website provides a venue to share Dr. Aldridge’s work.  Hopefully, you will find the material there as beneficial and engaging as Virtually Inspired.

Marci M. Powell

USDLA Chair Emerita and Past President, Global Partnerships Committee Chair

CEO | President, Marci Powell & Associates

Marci Powell, chief project researcher, is an expert in the field of educational technology with extensive experience in applications related to lifelong learning and innovation. Powell began her career as a classroom teacher and has served as an administrator at various educational institutions across Texas.

Marci has spent nearly 20 years of her career in the field of distance and online learning. She been inducted into the Texas Distance Learning Association (TxDLA) and United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Halls of Fame and most recently was recognized as a European Distance and Elearning Network (EDEN) Fellow for her distinguish contributions to the European learning field.

Her recent work with the European Commission (EU) can be found in the OpenEdu Framework project and with UNESCO in the soon to be released booklet, Leading digital transformation for inclusive, equitable and quality higher education: Stories for inspiration. As Chair Emerita and Past President of the USDLA, Marci currently chairs the Global Partnership Committee. Marci also sits on the Elections Board of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE). Higher Ed Tech Decisions named Marci as a 2014 Top 10 Leaders in Higher Education. With over 25 years of progressive leadership and management serving as an advisor to public and private sectors in the Americas, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Asia Pacific, Marci shares global best practices in digital learning.

About Drexel University

Founded in 1891, Drexel University is a top-ranked, regionally accredited, comprehensive research university, located in the heart of Philadelphia and recognized for its commitment to experiential learning, leading-edge academic technology, and use-inspired research. With approximately 26,000 students, Drexel is one of the nation’s 15th largest private universities and was recently ranked 14th on U.S. News & World Report’s list of “Most Innovative Schools.”

As an academic center of excellence, entrepreneurship, and innovation, Drexel remains a pioneer in technology-enhanced education for working adults, who want to advance their careers and make a difference in their professional fields.  Having launched its first online courses in 1996, this transformative university now offers more than 140 high-quality online degree and certificate programs, using the same accredited curriculum and distinguished faculty as it does on-campus.