Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

Archive for March, 2010

A CCC Faculty Member’s Observations of the NC3DLA Conference

MARCH 16-16

The Distance Learning conference in Durham this past week offered many excellent opportunities for learning new techniques to improve online education; from nuts and bolts construction, design guidelines, best practices, and assessment tools. Carteret Community College was well represented with Don Staub, Patrick Keough and Laurie Freshwater all giving impressive talks. It was evident we are way ahead of the curve in Distance learning in training, content innovation and assessment. Click Here to download Don Staub’s Presentation on DL Assessment

One of my favorite talks was called “The Good, Bad and Ugly of e-Learning”, by Kelly Kirk , Director of Distance Learning at RTCC. In a hands on simulation he had cast us in the role of a student trying to navigate our way around in a poorly designed online class. It was very frustrating and brought home the point how students feel when our course are not well planned.

There was a variety of interesting software available both free and for sell. I was excited about learning more about SoftChalk, which we already have copies of  and it works seamlessly with Blackboard to expand its functionality. There is some free online training and PreAh Hill has agreed to give a hands on demonstration.

We are very fortunate to have a Title 3 grant that enables us to attend these conferences and continue to learn and improve our online course offerings.  It is also a nice validation of what we do when we network and compare our online offerings. It was interesting to see that nationally online students are now doing as well as seated sections. At our college students in Hybrid courses do better than students in the seated or online classes. Distance learning is growing by leaps and bounds in all 2 and 4 year schools and it is mandatory to stay abreast of all trends to keep our students engaged.




Cathy Crowell
Curriculum Area Coordinator
Photographic Technology
Carteret Community College
3505 Arendell Street
Morehead City, N.C. 28557


NC3DLA Conference DeBrief

Considering the board of the ND3DLA didn’t even start promoting this year’s distance learning conference until late January, it has been a real success. There were approximately 200 participants attending this year’s conference called Clicks and Mortar at the Sheraton Hotel in Durham.

I attended Associate Vice President for Learning Technology Bill Randall’s presentation from the System Office who gave a comprehensive historical perspective on distance learning across the state. He addressed the various distance learning initiatives and challenges that have evolved over the past 12 years and the incredible growth dl has experienced in the last decade. The latest statistics show a 38% growth in online and hybrid course enrollment state wide this past year. The System Office is now In the process of putting together a stronger infrastructure to support distance learning across the state such as looking at alternative open source course management system’s like Moodle and implementing standardized training and for community college faculty.

Dr. Randall addressed setting up DL in the state as a business model and rethinking how we fund, assess, train and change the educational culture throughout the system in addition to integrating functionality putting us on converging paths with K-16. That is one of the reasons COLT (Commission on Learning Technology) was established this past year. He asked how can we leverage change and maintain quality in these difficult economic times especially with distance learning growing so rapidly across the state.

Jonathon Sweetin, Applications Integrator from the NCCCS System Office presented a comprehensive overview of Moodle administration – he took us “under the hood” of moodle and showed how to change themes, course design, create reports, batch enroll students, upload files, back-up courses and essentially manage your moodle courses for your college.

There’s no doubt that more and more colleges in the state community college system are in the process of migrating to moodle or at least considering the possibility of migrating away from BB and going to this cheaper “open source” instructional delivery alternative.

Conversion from BB to moodle is not seamless. Most faculty are using cut and paste method however there is a conversion tool from LSU. He also shared some excellent resources for both teachers and distance learning administrators.

Dr. Williams from the System Office gave a very motivational and inspiring keynote address concerning the importance of giving all our citizens across the state the opportunity to pursue their education and how distance learning has to play a crucial role in all aspects of life long learning as technology changes so rapidly and our workforce retools and upgrades incorporating technology at all levels.

There was also a panel addressing the issue of SACS and how Distance learning departments can prepare for the SACS visit. This was a panel I sat on because CCC just had its SACS visit this past fall and received no recommendations. It was basically an information sharing with lots of questions. the panel was able to take some of the mystery out of SACS as it relates to DL.

Carteret Community College was well represented at this year’s conference with 9 faculty and staff attending thanks to Title III funding and 3 presenting (myself, Don Staub and Laurie Freshwater) 7 sessions in during the three day conference. I walked away from the conference feeling positive about the strides we have made in distance learning at Carteret Community College. There is no doubt that we are staying abreast of the latest technology and best practices for dl thanks to the funding Title III gives us for training, technology and travel.

You can download my the Powerpoint from my presentation on Harnessing Rich Media for Instructional Purposes by clicking here!

Why Attend Professional Conferences?

People ask my why I attend so many professional conferences. I’ve been blessed the past 4 years with a Federal Title III grant that funds my various distance learning training initiatives here at Carteret Community College. The grant also has line items for my travel and travel funds of our distance learning faculty. As long as there are viable professional development activities at these various educator conferences we can use the funds to attend them.

As my previous post mentions I just returned from the Society for Photographic Education Conference in Philadelphia. What a great city! I must say the Philadelphia Museum of Art is absolutely excellent and would give the MET a run for its money as far as the quality of its collection and great exhibits it puts on. I was lucky enough to catch the Picasso show during a break from attending my Photo Educator conference workshops.

One of the main things I enjoy about attending distance learning and photography conferences is the inspiration (and current information) I get from being around my colleagues in the field.

Technology is changing so incredibly fast and getting to hear speakers talk about the latest innovations in teaching and photographic practices enables me to bring this information back and share it with my students and faculty where I work. I also enjoy sharing what we are doing here at Carteret Community College with my professional peers. Its a two way street as far as exchanging information in order to make us all better at what we do in our respective fields.

This years conference had a great print sharing where my students could see what the work other students and teachers from around the country are making in addition to having the opportunity to build relationships with educators and professionals in my field.

I must admit I was excited about having my daughter Andei who happens to be a budding photographer with me this year. She got the opportunity to share some of the work she is doing with other students and some teachers from colleges around the country.

Its very easy to get caught up in our little routines and worlds with all the demands we have on us as educators – getting away for a few days to attend a professional conference is rejuvenating, inspirational and very beneficial because I always bring back something that I have learned and share the new knowledge with my students and fellow distance learning teachers.

A good example of this would be all the great information I got about digital workflow at last year’s conference. I came back and did more research on this important photographic practice and then incorporated it into all my photography classes.

That is why I make the extra effort to attend good conferences that relate to what I am doing professionally. I attend not only to get information but to share what I have learned with my professional colleagues. Title III has enabled me and many of the staff and faculty of Carteret Community College to expand our knowledge by supplying the funds to travel to these excellent workshops and conferences.

It was also rewarding for me to see one of my photo graduates (Rochelle photo left) moving forward with her photography education and working towards a 4 year degree. Here she is at the print sharing showing off some of her beautiful black and white landscapes.

Mid-Semester DL Report Spring 2010

The Distance Learning team has had a busy and productive Spring semester so far. As of Spring 2010 the college has officially gone 100% electronic for all faculty grade books and syllabi so we conducted a a series of professional development workshops last semester in order to get our traditional classroom instructors up to speed with the basics of Blackboard. All CCC faculty will be expected to submit their entire grade books electronically to their supervisors via e-mail attachment at the end of each semester from now on.

We were also tasked with creating a Technology Boot Camp assessment and training Blackboard to be used to assess where everyone at CCC is as far as the level of their technical skills with computer literacy, word processing, powerpoint, excel and navigating the internet. Campus wide assessments and training will begin in the coming weeks with a goal to have all CCC employees assessed by April 15th. After that the assessments will be evaluated and targeted training will be given to the staff and faculty that need their technology skills upgraded.

Pre-Ah Hill has worked with seven faculty members so far this Spring to get their Blackboard grade books set up for their seated courses.  She has also worked with at least 10 different faculty members on instructional video production, Blackboard upgrades and other troubleshooting problems.  She also assisted one faulty member on making screencasts for her online courses.

Professional Development during January and February

Jan 29 Grade Center Workshop: 12 people attended

Feb 5: Blackboard Boot Camp: 5 people attended; One was a repeat, one only stayed for the first Module and 3 graduated.

Feb 19: Using Movie Maker: 13 people attended

We have 7 faculty attending the NC3DL Conference this month in Durham. Title III Project Director Don Staub is presenting on assessing dl courses. Laurie Freshwater is presenting on DL Best Practices and I am sitting on a panel for DL and SACS in addition to giving 2 presentation on incorporating rich media into online courses.

Title III Distance Learning Pioneers Reports

Or Title III Pioneers are doing some exciting things with their online courses. Title III purchased laptops, digital recorders and web cams for the DL Pioneers and they have moved forward creating instructional videos, screencasts and podcasts for their courses in addition to upgrading the design of their blackboards based on the best practices workshops they have attended as part of the DL Pioneer initiative.

The following are some of the things our Phase IV Pioneers are working on as part of the Title III grant.

• Joseph Croom has been working on a welcome video into the Office of Admissions at CCC; as well as a tutorial, or how to guide, on filling out an online application.

• David Roach has completely redone Respiratory Clinical Practice I, RCP 132 for this semester and added an introductory video and a series of instructional videos as well.

• History instructor David Quinn is in the process of digitally recording all his lectures, adding instructional videos to his lessons and has created a video orientation for his HIS 236 course.

• Pamela A. Taylor, Radiography Clinical Coordinator has created an introduction video for RAD Procedures II in addition to adding enhanced instructional podcasts to her online lessons.

• Chemistry instructor Kelly Jo Gordon – Aguilar has create a video orientation for her Chemistry hybrid course and has modified (retooled) all documents (ppts, tests, quizzes, and homework) within BB. She has developed hybrid and web enhanced courses for CHM 151, 152, 131, and 132.

• Faculty Assistant Bessie Wells has accomplished the following as staff person on the Title III DL team.

1. Talked to supervisor and department about what to do; Patrick suggested a blog but the department thought a web page for the Curriculum Support Services Department would be better. Each person in the department will have a short video/enhanced podcast about their area and what they do (divisions they work with, budgets, etc.) on a page.  There would also be a few training videos as well as enhanced podcasts about the different aspects of the work CSS does. 
2. Talked with Terrence Smith about how to go about getting our web page for the department on the college’s web page.  We talked at length about the different coding to use.  Terrence said that using HTML language would be fine and he would figure out a way to get our page connected to the college’s page.  Seem to think that this would not be a problem. 
3. Have chosen colors for the background and text on the page. Have started work on the page and have some things tentatively completed. 
4. Have chosen the mascot picture for CSS department to use on the page. Creating hot spots to access the other pages for the department. 
5.  Will be taking updated pictures of the faculty assistants as well as making appointments for their video/podcast. (They wanted to wait until after Christmas to do this). 
6. Have done searches for images to use along with creating banners for each assistant’s page.

• Psychology Instructor Heather Hebert has been in the process of retooling her PSY 150 General Psychology and PSY 281 Abnormal Psychology. She has been meeting with Pre-Ah to produce audio and video components for her to online classes.

• Academic Support coordinator Kimberly Johnson has taken over responsibility for our Title III initiated online tutoring service and submitted the following report.

1 – We are maintaining the same level of service and are paying for 2 of the 3 online tutors.  Title 3 might continue to fund the third position through May 2010. 
2 – Lara Sassano has been identified as the on-campus/online tutor and will train this semester.  She has attended the Effective Online Learning Seminar with Patrick Keough and Pre-Ah Hill and online tutor training with Patrick Keough.  As of January 22nd, she is listed as an online tutor and is working with Lisa Taylor in streamlining her profile and learning how to communicate with students.  Lara is tutoring A&P, biology and chemistry online. 
3- Academic Support has a Skype account that can and will be used for any in-house online tutoring. 
4 – We are still developing the process and timing of this process. 
5 – I will be attending “Best Learning Center Practices…” webinar on January 26th and will also attend a demonstration on an online tutorial and homework system on February 5th. 
6 – Lisa Taylor continues to coordinate and advertise for online tutoring.  With the addition of Lara as a tutor, we are now offer assistance in chemistry. 

Timeline for Online Tutoring

January 2010 – Pay the majority of online tutor salary from AS budget 
January – May 2010  Train in-house online tutor 
March 2010 – Have a designated computer set-up for online tutoring with camera and microphone 

Title III has been invaluable for CCC to continue being a leader in the state for distance learning. It enables us to do ongoing and varied professional development both in a classroom/lab settings and one on one with individual faculty.