What I learned at the WCET conference

I was a first-timer at the WCET conference, held this year in Denver October 26-29, 2011 and I was impressed with the speakers, their expertise in policy, instructional design, and student services for online students.  Now that WKU is a member, we have access to the materials from the conference as well as webcasts, reports, and discussion forums.  If you would like to be connected, just let Katie or me know and we’ll help you. 

Michael Goldstein of Dow Lohnes, LLC spoke on the tip of the iceberg – interpretation of the federal regulations that came out in October, 2010, that are impacting online learning.  Besides state authorizations, he spoke of the pressing need for us to be concerned about the federal definition of credit hour and last day of attendance.  We have so much work to do!

I also heard about some award-winning portals for student services.  One was called GPS Lifeplan.  It was came out of a grant with a creative commons license and the folks who designed it out of Minnesota are really excited about sharing it.  Another cool one was University Life Cafe (universitylifecafe.org) from K-State.  I know that we have some of these pieces but to see the integrated way they are using them was very exciting.

Some folks in WCET are working on a Predictive Analytics Research project (PAR) that they hope will develop into an early warning system for online students.  They have 3 million course records that they have just collected this fall and expect to do a great deal crunching on.  This is one to watch.  One point Phil Ice of American Public University System said they have found is that students do better when not taking concurrent courses.  This speaks positively about Winter Term and summer sessions courses!

I believe that keeping up with the world is our responsibility as professional continuing educators.  The world is big and there are some brilliant people out there doing amazing things – it makes me appreciate the brilliant amazing people who work in DELO who are also doing amazing things.

Beth

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