Society for Lifelong Learning Hosts Food For Thought Event Featuring Don McGuire from the Hilltoppers Quartet

Over 160 people attended the November 4 Society for Lifelong Learning at WKU (SLL) Food For Thought featuring Don McGuire from the legendary Hilltoppers quartet.

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Don McGuire, original member of The Hilltoppers, spoke to a packed house on Wednesday, November 4, 2015.

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McGuire enjoyed time with numerous SLL Food For Thought attendees.

The only living member of the original quartet, McGuire provided engaging and humorous insight into the Hilltoppers’ days as one of the top musical acts. The Hilltoppers went from everyday college students to chart topping recording artists, appearing on popular syndicated shows like Ed Sullivan and the Perry Como Show.

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Don McGuire spoke with SLL Food For Thought attendees, posed for photographs and signed autographs.

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Don McGuire enjoyed lunch with SLL members and guests before presenting stories of his years at a member of the 1950s chart-topping quartet “The Hilltoppers.”



“Don McGuire is truly an entertaining storyteller. This was a rare opportunity to hear first-hand about his experience as a member of The Hilltoppers and their incredible success.”
Larry Gildersleeve, SLL Advisory Board member and Membership Relations Committee member.

McGuire’s entertaining stories took the audience for a stroll down memory lane and provided a glimpse into eventful, and often hilarious, experiences of a young singing group in the 1950s.

Food For Thought events provide an opportunity for the community to learn more about the SLL by attending a program and enjoying a light meal with SLL members, instructors and volunteers.

The SLL is a member-driven organization that offers a wide range of high quality, intellectually stimulating, non-credit educational programs and experiences for people ages 50 and over.

Information about the Society for Lifelong Learning and programs they offer are available at

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Potter College Faculty-Led Study Abroad Fair

The Potter College Faculty-Led Study Abroad Fair will be held next Tuesday, Nov. 17th between 10:45 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. in the Cherry Hall Lobby.

WKU NSE logoThe English Department will host the Potter College Faculty-Led Study Abroad Fair in Cherry Hall featuring WKU programs in Argentina, Cuba, the Czech Republic, England, Italy, Morocco, and South Africa and general programs with KIIS and CCSA.

CCSA-logo-FINAL-1000Learn about how you can make studying abroad a reality while sampling African, Caribbean, European, and South American ethnic food and listening to traditional music from the featured countries.

This fair is open to all majors.

Featured Countries:faculty led study abroad0

  • Argentina – Rita Meredith
  • Czech Republic and Central Europe – Roger Murphy, Pam Wilson
  • England – Rob Hale, Erika Solberg
  • Italy – Lloyd & Libby Davies
  • Morocco – Sol Kiasatpour
  • South Africa – Saundra Ardrey, Saundra Starks

Featured partners:

  • Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA)
  • Faculty-Led Study Abroad
  • Kentucky Institute for International Studies (KIIS)
  • Office of Study Abroad & Global Learning
  • Study Away & National Student Exchange

Food available:

South African Curried Meatballs, Mini Cuban Sandwiches, Italian Bruschetta, English Cucumber Mint Tea Sandwiches, Moroccan Carrot Dip, Argentina Empanadas (Cheese), Czech Republic Polenta Cakes.


Department of English, Department of Political Science, Honors College, Study Abroad and Global Learning, Kentucky Institute for International Studies, Cooperative Center for Study Abroad





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NCES data on ‘non-traditional’ learners: DELO’s role in serving today’s learners

In DELO we are always looking for data to inform our work with students. We were especially excited to see a briefing from the NCES on information we already knew, today’s students are more diverse and less ‘traditional’ than ever!

Recently the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released a brief on the characteristics that today’s contemporary learners possess. Please note the use of the term ‘contemporary learners’. We in DELO believe this term is more inclusive than ‘post-traditional’, ‘non-traditional’ or ‘adult learners’ as these terms are comparative to a norm, traditional students. Also, these terms serve to identify the ‘otherness’ of students that are not native four-year students that enrolled immediately after high school, essentially marginalizing these students. If you’ve had a chance to read the NCES brief, that norm simply does not exist anymore, at least not to the extent many would believe.

The brief compares historical data from the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS), conducted by the NCES. These studies are “comprehensive, nationally representative surveys of how students finance their postsecondary education.” (pg. 2) The NPSAS includes demographic and enrollment information. The study used variables such as attendance status, delayed postsecondary enrollment, number of dependents, employment and several others which contribute to defining non-traditional students during the academic years of 1995 – 2012.

The NCES brief is interesting for a lot of reasons, specifically for the summative information on characteristics that have been used to define ‘non-traditional’ students for years.

Number of nontraditional (1) characteristics (2011-2012)
Zero: 26.2%
One: 18.7%
Two or three: 31.3%
Four or more : 23.8%

What does this data tell us? That ‘traditional’ students comprise a little over a quarter of the undergraduate students served in postsecondary education. Also included in the brief is additional data on other undergraduate student characteristics. In this same data we see that 27.5% of students have dependents (15.2% are single with dependents), 34.2% of students delayed their enrollment in postsecondary education more than one year after high school, 43.4% were enrolled exclusively part-time, and 25.9% worked full-time.

What else does this data tell us? That DELO’s mission of supporting academic departments to offer convenient and flexible learning opportunities to students is more important now that ever! It’s through our work in the community with businesses and organizations that many contemporary learners are exposed to WKU. Because DELO is an independent division within academic affairs, we have the opportunity work with all colleges and departments to create interdisciplinary solutions for learners. DELO staff members help design programs that will meet the needs learners and provide access to WKU!

WKU has been providing this access for decades. In five more years we’ll celebrate the 100th anniversary of WKU On Demand. While the name of that unit has changed through the years, the mission has not, to provide access to WKU instruction in a non-term based and distance learning format. In a few short weeks we’ll launch the first modularlized, personalized learning bachelor-completion program in the commonwealth of Kentucky. WKU’s innovative advanced manufacturing degree is designed exclusively for contemporary college students.

Distance learning has proven to be an excellent option for students with dependents, students with schedules that prevent them from enrolling in day classes, and students with other barriers to their learning. WKU has been strategic in the development and sustainability of distance learning by creating a model that funds the supports required for distance learners, as well as faculty, and by including distance learning in the University’s strategic plan, Challenging the Spirit (p.12). These efforts have paid off as WKU leads the public four-year institutions in the state in the number of distance learning course and programs offered. This work was further validated this year by US News and World Report, which recognized WKU as the #2 online bachelor degree program in the country (

DELO supports cohort and corporate training that extends WKU’s reach throughout the region and directly into companies that need customized degree and non-degree options for learners. These entrepreneurial efforts serve 100s of learners each year, contemporary learners that would otherwise be excluded from a relationship with WKU.

DELO excels at fostering relationships: relationships with academic departments, relationships with employers, and relationships with contemporary learners. DELO’s support, through the online student resource portal which is accessible to all students, is designed for contemporary learners who often find universities a confusing cluster of offices and people. Distance Learning instructional designers help faculty design their courses for the contexts of their learners. Academic Outreach and Distance Learning student support staff recruit and help retain students, operating almost invisibly to ensure that students enroll at WKU are prepared to engage with faculty and be self-directed learners.

We’re pleased that the NCES released a brief on what they term ‘non-traditional learners’. For us in DELO, our mission remains the same, to serve all learners, especially contemporary learners, and remove barriers to their postsecondary goals.


(1) “Seven characteristics identify nontraditional students: being independent for financial aid purposes, having one or more dependents, being a single caregiver, not having a traditional high school diploma, delaying postsecondary enrollment, attending school part time, and being employed full time.” (page 7)


National Center for Education Statistics (2015). Web Tables: Demographics and enrollment characteristics of non-traditional undergraduates 2011-2012. Retrieved from Natonal Center for Education Statistics:

US News and World Report (2015). Best online programs. Retrieved from US News and World Report:

Western Kentucky University (2012). Challenging the spirit action plan 2012-2013 to 2017-2018. Retrieved from

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Competency-based Education Is Gaining Ground

As evidenced by the front page of the Chronicle this week, competency-based education (CBE) is a hot topic.

WKU is a part of the Competency-Based Education Network (article sidebar) whose work centers on advocating for the effectiveness of quality CBE online higher education programs.  (This is through our work with the Kentucky Commonwealth College Consortium.)

Recently, Julie Uranis, director of WKU Distance Learning, and I participated in the CBExchange conference in Phoenix. Based on what we experienced, there are many more colleges and universities looking into CBE programs.  I say, the more the merrier! While the delivery method varies, the advantages of gaining a critical mass are great.

The Chronicle article brings grounding to the 40+ year idea of CBE. Focus now shifts from emphasis of the delivery method to the quality of learning for which we all strive.

CBE could be the defining catalyst to advance our technologies to a level that will bridge the gaps between administrative processes, teaching and learning — enabling students and faculty to connect with fewer barriers, more engagement.

Our society is as reliant on Internet access as water and electricity. Teaching and learning at a distance can take advantage of this and be about the interaction instead of the technology if infrastructures, students and faculty support and function together.

Please share this article with others in your colleges who may be thinking about CBE and how it fits with their teaching/learning philosophies.  The possibilities are beyond distance learning.

What an exciting time for those of us focused on reaching contemporary learners!

Posted in Distance Learning, DL Testing Center, Online Learning, Online Learning Research Office (ORLO), Online Program Services, Technology | Leave a comment

Dive-In Movie hosted by Study Away


Join us for a Dive-In Movie on Thursday, October 22nd at 8:00 PM in the Bill Powell Natatorium at the Preston Center sponsored by WKU’s Housing & Residence Life and the Study Away Office!

wku study awayWe’re highlighting some of the fantastic places WKU has Study Away Programs. Showcasing Hawaii, our first film is 50 First Dates!

This event is open to WKU students, faculty, and staff. Bring your floaties (sorry no rafts)! Feel free to watch the movie from the shore or in the water. See you there!

Learn more about Study Away in Hawaii.

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Getting ready for Sundance

wku study awayWKU students buying their tickets for the Sundance Film Festival as part of their Study Away Winter Term 2016 course.




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Study Away offers a nontraditional academic experience

wku study awayStudy Away offers a nontraditional academic experience

by Kalee Chism

For students who desire off-campus academic experience but are not quite ready to leap across the pond, WKU offers a program for students to study away in the U.S. and its territories.

Read more…

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Blended Learning Workshop with Dr. Curtis Bonk

On Friday, September 25, WKU’s Office of Distance Learning welcomed Dr. Curtis Bonk to campus for a half-day faculty workshop on blended learning.

With nearly 50 faculty in attendance, Bonk presented three lively sessions on blended learning that covered myths and models of blended learning, the TEC-VARIETY model for increasing student engagement and motivation in blended and online learning, and the R2D2 model that addressed the changing roles of faculty and how to engage students by using a variety of innovative methods and tools. Faculty were encouraged to consider the possible application of each tool or idea in their own face to face, blended, or online classes.

As part of his visit, Bonk gifted several faculty with copies of several of his books, including his newest, MOOCs and Open Education (2015). He also donated copies of The Handbook of Blended Learning (2005) and Adding Some TEC-VARIETY: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online (2014) to Distance Learning.

Dr. Bonk is a Professor of Instructional Systems Technology and adjunct in the School of Informatics at Indiana University. He received both his master’s and doctorate in educational psychology from the University of Wisconsin. Bonk has authored more than 300 articles and books on e-learning and has given more than 1,500 talks on many topics related to learning technologies and human learning.

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SGA allocates funds to study away scholarships

wku study awaySGA continues supporting students via the 2015-2016 Study Away Scholarship.

Read more in the WKU Herald


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Society for Lifelong Learning Kicks Off Fall Term

The Society for Lifelong Learning at WKU (SLL) will kick off its fall term on Tuesday, September 15, at 8:45 a.m. with an official proclamation from the Bowling Green mayor and Warren County Judge Executive.

That morning, officials will formally declare September 13-19 as “Lifelong Learning Week” for Bowling Green and Warren County, kicking off the SLL’s fall term which takes place September 15-November 5.

“We are thrilled to officially begin what promises to be a fascinating fall term. The support of Mayor Wilkerson and Judge Buchanon makes it that much more exciting,” said Frank Kersting, SLL board member and chair of the membership relations committee.

“It’s encouraging to know that our city and county leaders place great value on learning throughout one’s lifetime, and we are honored to have them help us kick off the fall term with an official proclamation.”

The SLL will offer 21 courses during the fall term and also host four Food for Thought events. These events provide an opportunity for the community to join SLL members and instructors for informative discussions from guest presenters.

The Food for Thought schedule includes the following:

  • International Year of South Africa, presented by the WKU Office of InInternational Year of South Africa graphicternational Programs – Wednesday, September 23, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • Southern Reconstructing: Sport and the Future of Religion in the American South, presented by Dr. Eric Bain-Selbo – Wednesday, October 14, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.
  • What’s “Brewing” at the WKU Center for Research and Development? Craft Beer!, presented by Dr. Andres McMichael – Tuesday, October 27 5:30 – 7:00 p.m.
  • You NeThe_Hilltoppers_circa_1954ver Take All the Makeup Off, presented by original member of The Hilltoppers quartet, Don McGuire – Wednesday, November 4 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

SLL activities take place at the Knicely Conference Center located at 2355 Nashville Road. Food for Thought presentations are open to the public. Registration is $10 (in advance) and includes a light lunch.

For more information about the Society for Lifelong Learning at WKU, visit or call 270-745-1912.

The Society for Lifelong Learning was founded in 2014. It is a member driven organization dedicated to offering a wide range of high quality, intellectually stimulating, non-credit educational programs and experiences for ages 50 and over who have a love for learning.


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