This past week (June 2nd – 5th) I had the privilege of attending and presenting at this year’s Distance Learning Administration Conference, hosted by the University of West Georgia on Jekyll Island. Although this is a relatively small conference that focuses on administration, management, planning, and evaluation of online programs for higher education, it always delivers with relevant and timely topics of interest. The informal setting allows for ample opportunity to exchange ideas and experiences for online educators and administrators.
This year was particularly exciting as our own Dr. Wally Boston was presented with the Wagner Award for Distance Education Leadership. Dr. Boston also delivered the Keynote Address on MOOCs in higher education (“Online Disruption, MOOC Mania, and Change in Higher Education”), sharing his perspectives regarding the significant changes that lie ahead for higher education.
APUS was well represented at the conference with 18 in attendance. Of the 96 presentations given, APUS faculty and staff gave 12 (12.5% of the total); CTL team members gave two presentations. Topics ranged from stratification within the online higher education system to helping students assimilate to developing an assessment culture in the online environment.
To a near packed breakout room, Dr. Teresa Williams and I presented on the topic of the CTL creation and development of the Community Course as a MOOC alternative for required training for all APUS faculty members. Dr. Williams and her APUS colleague Anne Erickson teamed up for a fishbowl presentation entitled “Remedial Training for Online Instructors”. A lively discussion in-the-round occurred throughout their talk.
As I focused my own attendance on the various breakout sessions regarding faculty development for online professors/instructors, I was so pleased to be a part of what the CTL team has helped to develop for our APUS faculty. When I shared during our presentation on the Community Course that our first cohort had a 97% successful completion rate and that the overall completion rate for all three cohorts was 88%, attendees were beyond amazed. In their experience (mostly with public universities beginning to develop an online component), the thought of “requiring” faculty members – particularly tenured ones – was unthinkable. Many of these faculty development staffers indicated that even instructors who had been assigned as first time teachers in online courses could not be require to take online training and many of them tackled the task with no knowledge of online pedagogy. (That’s what I find amazing!!)
As the CTL continues to search for ways to bring cutting edge training assets to our faculty to enrich their teaching skills and thereby provide the optimum learning experience for our students, I will continue to be proud to represent APUS as I attend and participate in nationwide distance learning conferences.