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!