Technology Summer Institute keynote speakers Dr. Cristi Ford and Dr. Stephanie Bulger spoke about the importance of teaching in an online environment and about ways to achieve greater retention in online courses.
Brookhaven College, with the LeCroy Center, hosted the day-long conference. The annual event provides a variety of innovative and diverse presentations on quality online education.
LeCroy Provost Dr. Pamela Quinn gave the opening speech for the event. She pointed to the increasing number of online learning students. Currently, there are almost six million students nationwide enrolled in online classes.
“Online has continued to go up for the last 13 years,” she said. “In fact, if it wasn’t for online registration, overall higher education would not have seen the growth it has seen.”
DCCCD Chief Innovation Officer Tim Marshall also spoke about the importance of technology in higher education.
“I’ve had a number of conversations over the years about the evolution of our workforce,” he said. “We’ve gone from an agricultural economy to an industrial economy and now we’re a knowledge economy. And when you have these discussions, you talk about all the different types of effects that technology’s had on the different professions. A dentist of a hundred years ago could not have performed now because of the technology that has changed that environment.”
The first keynote address of the day came from Ford, who is the Assistant Vice Provost for Learning Innovation Initiatives at the University of Maryland University College.
“Really, it’s been 20 years since we started researching what we knew about effectiveness of an online education,” Ford said. “So now, we’re moving to a point where we have traditional online education and we have a new field of online education.”
Ford elaborated on how things have changed from the professor of a class having all the information.
“Now, we are also a part of this process,” she said. “Now in an online environment, when the course begins, you’re just as big of a participant as the student is. You’re facilitating the course, but you are a part of that environment in a very different way. No longer is it just about knowledge being directed, now we’re looking at a different approach where students are actually teaching.”
Ford also made her speech interactive, giving those in attendance a few minutes in the middle of her speech to discuss how their impact on their own online courses.
In the afternoon, Bulger, Vice President of Instructional Services at the San Diego Community College District, gave the second keynote address of the conference.
Bulger, who said we’re at a “critical juncture” in online education, went over studies of online learning during her speech, which included California boasting an 81 percent retention rate.
The conference also included breakout sessions in the morning, during lunch and in the afternoon. You may view some of the presentations here.
If you attended the conference, please take a few minutes to complete the event survey and evaluation.