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Second Annual National Distance Learning Week Mini-Conference Draws Crowd

Published: November 10, 2016

Dr. Deb Adair discusses Quality Matters during the Second Annual National Distance Learning Week Mini-Conference Tuesday at A&M-Texarkana.

Dr. Deb Adair discusses Quality Matters during the Second Annual National Distance Learning Week Mini-Conference Tuesday at A&M-Texarkana.

Faculty and staff from more than 15 area institutions filled Eagle Hall Nov. 8 for the Second Annual National Distance Learning Week Mini-Conference hosted by Texas A&M University-Texarkana.

“We hold this conference as part of our National Distance Learning Week activities, and in support of our local area Distance Education faculty and colleagues,” said Instructional Technologist Linda Scott, who organized the conference along with colleague Julia Allen. “Our goal is to hold an event with relevant subject matter, and one that is easily accessible for faculty members from other institutions to attend – that is, they can drive here to attend a good conference and be back home by a reasonable hour.  The conference is free to attend and is presented with generous support from the Office of the Provost.”

Conference attendance was up by 25 percent this year. At one point there was standing room only.

Lunch was provided by Blackboard.  Snacks and drinks were provided by NETnet (Northeast Texas Consortium of Colleges and Universities).

Keynote presenters included Dr. Deb Adair, executive director, Quality Matters, who spoke about how student persistence and retention are affected by course design standards such as the Quality Matters Rubric. 

“Through formal application of the QM Rubric, over 2.5 million students have been positively affected,” Dr. Adair said.  “Through informal application, the numbers are probably considerably higher. We have no way of tracking that, but we do know many institutions nationwide informally apply the QM Rubric through workshops and self-reviews.”

Dr. Timothy Hartfield, Blackboard senior marketing manager, analytics, spoke on the emerging topic of analytics: analyzing learning through the use of big data. 

“There is great information in analytics, and if properly harvested, it can be used to help students before they get in trouble resulting in a more meaningful experience for students, better grades, and increased retention and graduation rates,” Dr. Hartfield said.

Presentations throughout the day were all relevant to Distance Education (online, web-enhanced, and blended) courses. 

Dr. Rebecca Martindale and Linda Scott demonstrated the Promethean Board and talked about how it might be used in the online classroom. 

Dr. David Allard challenged instructors to consider using case studies in their online and blended classes. 

Rebecca Steward of Texas A&M University-Commerce presented tips and tools to assist in creating videos to support course material. Dr. Sunni Davis and Relinda Ruth of the University of Arkansas-Cossatot spoke about open education resources (OER), and also talked about ideas for enhancing the design of online courses.

Dr. Sandra Labby, presented her compelling research findings on cyberbullying, emphasizing that this topic is underserved in the online community and more research is needed.

Dr. David Reavis, interim dean of the College of Business, brought greetings from the President’s Office and presented closing remarks. He said his time had been well spent during the day and he took away valuable information, including the case study challenge from Dr. Allard.

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