Convergence 2014 Call for Proposals

A reminder abUnknownout this statewide conference and the call for proposals. Kentucky Convergence is November 13-14 in Louisville, and the deadline for proposals is August 29.

This statewide conference brings professionals in information technology, online learning, and libraries together for an interesting exchange. I know many of you have exciting things going on you could share or encourage faculty you are working with to share. It is always an interesting experience!

Here are more details from the conference leaders:
Call for Proposals
for the
2014 Kentucky Convergence Conference

A premier event for higher education professionals across the state of Kentucky.
The Kentucky Convergence Conference annually brings together professionals in information technology, online learning, and information professionals from the public and private colleges and universities in Kentucky.

November 13 & 14, 2014
University of Louisville
Shelby Campus

Proposals due Monday, August 29, 2014

The theme for the 2014 conference is Back to the Future: Together, Toward, Tomorrow. The committee is seeking innovative, creative proposals that will engage, educate, and inspire those in attendance. Sessions at the 2014 Kentucky Convergence Conference will focus on innovations in instructional technology, best practices for higher education technology support, current issues for information professionals, shared concerns for Kentucky institutions, and advances in online learning and instructional design. Some ideas are given here, but they are meant only to stimulate your creative juices, not to limit what is submitted.

All conference sessions will last 50 minutes. The committee will entertain proposals for several types of sessions:

1. Presentation session – a presentation by one or more presenters with time left at the end for questions.
2. Workshop/Interactive session – one or more persons give a hands-on workshop that allows attendees to be actively involved in experiencing what is being described.
3. Panel session – generally three or four people form a panel to discuss a topic. There is usually a moderator. Panelists can do very short (2-3 minute) presentations to jump start the discussion. Examples of panel sessions include: campus upgrades, disaster recovery, instructional design, etc.
4. Roundtable discussion – generally one person (sometimes two) facilitates a roundtable discussion on a particular topic; there may be a brief presentation to start the conversation. Examples of Roundtable topics include: Supporting browsers, Administrator rights on user machines, Centralized vs Distributed IT Support, etc.

To submit a proposal, go to:

You will be asked to provide the following:

· Type of Session
· Presenter and co-presenter information – Name, institution, email, address for each presenter plus a phone number for the first presenter
· Session Title – 10 words or less (Consider something catchy that will be attractive to the potential audience.)
· Abstract as it will appear in the program – 100 words or less
· Description (not required for Roundtable discussions)- Please provide a description or outline of your session in 500 words or less. Please include what attendees will take away from your session. If applicable, list any handouts, resources, templates, etc. that audience members will have access to after your session.
· Message to Program Committee – optional

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Upcoming National Presentations

We have some exciting news to share regarding the 2014 Online Learning Consortium International Conference (formerly Sloan-C). Cindy Troutman, Program Manager for WKU Online and Tanja Bibbs, Assistant Director of Distance Learning, will present a 35 minute session on building student support services. The presentation will focus on creating services from the ground up through needs assessment and campus partnerships. The Conference will be in Orlando, FL, October 29-31.

This opportunity is closely followed by a presentation at the 2014 WCET Conference where Cindy will be part of a panel presentation on the use of technology to support student success. The Conference will be held in Portland, OR, November 19-21.

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End of Summer Update: Online Program Services

I hope you all have had a terrific summer! It’s quickly coming to a close, and it has been the busiest of record for us!

There are a few exciting updates that I’d like to share:

WKU now has 80 online programs – 10 of which have been added this summer! The programs include minor areas of study, undergraduate certificates, associate degrees, bachelor degrees (100% online and completion), graduate certificates and master degrees. The selection is broad, offering each of our students the opportunity to pursue their interests in a way that fits their life.

To go along with the new programs, we continue to expand support for WKU’s distance learners. We have recently added the Road to Success webinar series, expanded library support services, transitioned our quarterly student newsletter to WordPress, and this fall we will launch an Online Presentation Coaching program. The Presentation Coaching program is led by Communication Professor, Dr. Donna Schiess, and includes tips for lighting, dress, video upload, troubleshooting, and offers students the opportunity to upload their project for critique. Students can access these services, and many more, with a single-click through the Student Resource Portal.

Stay tuned as we add these new services and programs to our website!


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Toppers at Sea – Recognized for service learning

toppers at sea logoThe Toppers at Sea – Climate Change Challenge – was recognized by the $100 Solution ™ for outstanding service.

Hosted by the WKU ALIVE Center, the national training center for THDS ™, the Toppers at Sea faculty-led study abroad program implemented five $100 Solution ™ projects during the summer 2014 voyage on board the MV Explorer.

Learn about the $100 Solution and the WKU ALIVE Center initiatives here.

Learn more about the Toppers at Sea program here.

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The Cooperative Center for Study Abroad – CCSA

ccsa logo blue and blueToday we launch a new adventure.

The Cooperative Center for Study Abroad is now officially housed at WKU. We have three new staff members joining us. Two will be at WKU with our Study Away crew and one will work remotely from Michigan for the coming year.

Our new folk are:

  • David Nelson, Data Specialist
  • Robert Bedard, Business Accounts Coordinator
  • Robin Byerly, Program Coordinator (working from Michigan)

I will bring our two new gentlemen around today or early next week to say hello. They will be working from temporary digs for the next two weeks until the Office of Study Away moves to Tate Page Hall.

More on CCSA at this link…

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OLRO Presentation at International Conference on Online Learning

Just wanted to share some good news.  The Online Learning Research Office (OLRO) has supported 12 research projects over the last 14 months – and we submitted a proposal to the Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C) to present some preliminary results from one of these projects at their international conference in Orlando in October.  Our proposal, entitled “Assessing the Impact of E-Text, Flipped Classroom and iPad Usage in an Anatomy and Physiology Course,” was accepted for the conference.  Dr. Kerrie McDaniel (Department of Biology) and Thomas Patterson (GA in the OLRO) will be presenting the results of our research in 35-minute informational session on October 30 from 4:10-4:45pm in Orlando.  Details on the research project and some of our preliminary findings are available here.

Hopefully the first of many presentations and publications for the OLRO.

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What’s Next for Blackboard?

180405695WKU has been using Blackboard as our learning management system (LMS) since 1999. Over the years, I’ve seen many changes in how our faculty use it to teach, collaborate with students and create a sense of community.

I’ve also been very aware of the increased quality in the competition in the LMS world. Frankly, I’ve wondered whether Blackboard would go the way of WordPerfect.

BbWorld, Blackboard’s annual conference, just wrapped up this week. According to Michael Feldstein (@mfelstein67) there were some amazing announcements. Check out his blog post, Blackboard’s Big News that Nobody Noticed.

In response to Instructure, Canvas’s LMS that has been creating a storm in the online learning arena, Bb has made some serious changes, and I would say it’s about time.

Mr. Feldstein said it so well, “Who would have thought in a million years that the LMS space could become interesting again?”

Now I’m sorry I missed that conference!



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WKU developing competency based education

Reading a blog this morning I came across this quote by Vernon Smith, an attendee of the WCET Data Boot Camp: “Innovation meets a need in a new way. Be prepared to fail. Then fail fast and move on.”

Experts today are looking at higher ed and thinking about innovation and failure with the hope of really changing the landscape. I had already begun thinking about the good, the bad, and the ugly of innovation, too, after reading an Atlantic article, Are Universities Going the Way of Record Labels? by Martin Smith.


It certainly paints a dismal picture for schools and universities outside the elite class of Harvard or MIT. These institutions, he writes, will scale the content of their prestigious professors, replacing that of professors from “second tier” institutions.

Mr. Smith believes the “unit of content” is no longer the degree but the course. As music lovers have come to buy songs a la carte on iTunes without having to buy the album, students will seek courses instead of degrees.

With the building interest in competency-based education, there are leaders in higher education distance learning who think the unit of content is the competency, not the course.

Programs with competency-based formats are now being developed, where courses are analyzed and broken down into skills, abilities and knowledge mastered instead of a progression through courses to earn a degree.

Western Kentucky University is at the forefront of this innovation, most recently through our newly redesigned degree in Advanced Manufacturing, which is in a modularized competency-based format. We believe this program of study will be especially attractive to adults looking to improve their employability.

As part of this development, I do not agree with Mr. Smith. I disagree that the unit of content is getting smaller. I would argue that the unit of content continues to be the credential — and we must not lose sight of this fact. Competency-based education is a way for both students and instructors to have a greater transparency of the path toward that credential, and that is what makes it so valuable. Credentials are the key . . . and they may not just be for credit.

Workforce and professional development credentials, as we have seen with the growth of badges, are making waves in the employability market. Credentials do matter, and they will continue to matter, and higher education institutions must find ways to make them deliverable and marketable as students try to decipher what programs are important to them.

Universities and colleges can bridge the gap between teaching and learning through whatever means, including flexible time, better student service, more customer support and finding the right mix of modalities for interaction. We must build the bridge of understanding to better meet the needs of the larger population of potential students: adults who require or desire credentials in order to advance in their careers.

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WKU selected as new home for the Cooperative Center for Study Abroad

ccsa logo blue and blueThe Cooperative Center for Study Abroad (CCSA), a consortium of American colleges and universities that offers study abroad programs and internships in English-speaking regions, has selected WKU to serve as the new host institution. The Division of Extended Learning and Outreach will serve as the liaison between CCSA and WKU through the Study Away office.

Read more…

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Study Away, Faculty-Led Study Abroad expand opportunities

flsa-delo-logo150Fifty WKU students took advantage of Faculty-Led Study Abroad (FLSA) or Study Away course opportunities during spring 2014.

wku study awayRead More

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