Virtual School Meanderings

April 7, 2011

Distance Learning News (HBCUs Online, etc.), Information (Lessons for Online Learning ), Events (EDEN Annual Conference) and Jobs (4-4-2011)

From the inbox a few days ago…

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Source: Diverse: Issues In Higher Education, p. 25
Reggie Smith III, Chairman of the Board of Directors, United States Distance Learning Association
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Historically Black colleges and universities have been the cornerstone of education for the African-American community for more than 150 years. These institutions have prepared graduates to compete with the best and brightest minds globally, and I, as a graduate of historically Black Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, stand as a testament to their transformative power. Now is the time for HBCUs to deliver this power via online learning.

Obama said HBCUs have a real opportunity to flourish and contribute to the president’s national goal of having the highest proportion of college graduates by 2020. However, many HBCUs find themselves at a crossroads, not only in terms of dwindling enrollment and diminishing endowments but also in the area of technology, especially when it comes to online learning opportunities.

In 2007, the APLU-Sloan National Commission on Online Learning surveyed 42 National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education-member college presidents and chancellors. Of the respondents, slightly more than 84 percent said online education is critical to their long-term strategy. Almost 71 percent see it as a way to attract students from outside the traditional service area, and almost 64 percent tie it to increasing student access. And yet, just 18 percent of the nation’s 105 historically Black colleges are online, according to a study from Howard University’s Digital Learning Lab. By comparison, 66 percent of the nation’s two- and four-year postsecondary institutions offer college-level distance education courses, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

The APLU-Sloan report provides some insight as to why so many HBCUs aren’t making the leap online: Nearly 78 percent of the respondents believe that students need more discipline to succeed in online courses, 70 percent see higher costs to develop classes online and almost 60 percent find a lack of acceptance of online instruction by faculty.

None of these assumptions should stand in the way. Despite the reluctance on the part of some HBCU leaders to embrace online education, interestingly, the origins of distance learning within the HBCU community can be traced back to the Black College Satellite Network, founded in 1981 by Dr. Mabel P. Phifer and Dr. Walter C. Barwick. Even though the network is no longer around today, it set the stage for HBCUs to provide distance learning globally while providing K-12 programming to students in urban, suburban and rural school districts.

HBCUs, which have traditionally provided an education for people who might not otherwise had the opportunity, have an imperative to take their programs online. There has been incremental growth in the number of Black colleges offering degrees online, aided, in part, by Education Online Services Corporation, an online learning management company founded by Ezell Brown and led by former NAACP president Dr. Benjamin Chavis that provides support for HBCUs seeking to offer full-degree programs online. This and other initiatives come as for-profit online education companies like the University of Phoenix recruit and graduate an increasing number of African-American students. In fact, the University of Phoenix awards more bachelor’s degrees to African-American students than any HBCU.

HBCUs can and should compete. In addition to boosting their online programs, these colleges need to take note of what for-profit institutions are doing regarding marketing and leveraging best practices. According to TNS Media Intelligence, the University of Phoenix spent $222 million on domestic marketing in 2007. HBCUs generally lack such a massive marketing budget, but they can leverage free or low-cost marketing outlets like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and public access channels. HBCUs also should take heed of best practices and lessons learned from international associations like the United States Distance Learning Association and others. Few HBCUs are members of these associations. USDLA offers resources ranging from “free” Instructional Media Selection Guide to the Distance Learning Accreditation Board and Quality Standards Certification program, which provides best practices for distance learning.

By leveraging these marketing outlets and best practices, HBCUs stand ready in the short term to help reach President Obama’s 2020 goal. Long term, they will be prepared to fulfill the American Dream for all students, both traditional and nontraditional. Our institutions need to step to the plate and deliver the rigorous learning environments that HBCUs are known for, whether via “brick and mortar” or “virtual” avenues. These are the HBCUs that created legendary giants like Langston Hughes, Oprah Winfrey, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and, of course, me.

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Jamie Littlefield
Distance Learning Guide for
& USDLA Advisory Board Member

The eBook Problem Nobody’s Talking About
Students are anticipating a more convenient way to get books without waiting in line and to access them without carrying around an over-sized backpack. However, online textbooks
have some major drawbacks…

How Would Affordable Online Degree Programs Help You?
Most traditional and online degrees leave students in debt they’ll be paying off for years to come. But, lawmakers have recently been discussing the possibility of creating affordable public online degree programs that wouldn’t require studiers to take out five-figure student loans or scholarships to complete. How would affordable online degrees help you? Share your answers and see what other students have to say…

10 Online High School Myths
Don’t believe everything you hear about online high schools. Dispel your misconceptions by finding out the truth behind the ten most common myths…

10 Communication Tips for Online Students
Interacting with online professors can be daunting. Often, virtual communication is more difficult than a face-to-face meeting. But, there’s no need to fear. Follow these ten suggestions to get the help you need…

How to Take Summer Term Classes Online
If you’re a traditional student, you don’t have to choose between spending your summer on the beach and staying in school. Instead, you can sign up for online summer school classes. Even if your college doesn’t offer the classes you need online, you may be able to enroll in another college for the summer months and transfer your credits at the end of the session…

Online Colleges on Twitter
A growing number of online colleges are now participating in Twitter, the popular microblogging platform. By “following” these schools on Twitter, you can receive the latest updates about their programs and accomplishments. Take a look at this list to find and follow online colleges you’re interested in.

How Do Online College Students Take Tests?
Whether you thrive under pressure or prefer to learn in a low-key environment, it’s important to find a college that meets your test-taking needs. Some online colleges require students to prove their knowledge by completing timed, high stakes exams. Others allow students to take tests at their own pace or prove their ability through alternative methods…

Readers Respond: What Makes an Online Teacher Effective?
Not every teacher is fit for the world of online education. Share your opinion on what makes virtual teachers effective and see what other students have to say…

How to Choose an Online Charter School
Many states now offer online charter school programs to residents at no cost. By enrolling in an online charter school, your child may be able to earn a high school diploma or make up missed credits without falling behind in a traditional school. How do you choose an online charter school? The six steps in this article can help…

Synchronous Distance Learning vs. Asynchronous Distance Learning
There are two primary types of distance learning courses: synchronous courses and asynchronous courses. Which is right for you?…

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My Reflections on the Mobile World Congress
Judy Brown
Mobile Learning Strategic Analyst
& USDLA Advisory Board Member

The Mobile World Congress (MWC) last week in Barcelona reminded me of the early days of Comdex. There was a lot of excitement with new announcements such as LG’s 3D phone,
Sony’s Experia Play, HTC ChaCha and Salsa devices with integrated Facebook, new Samsung devices and lots of tablets from companies such as HTC with their Flyer, Samsung which includes a pen, Motorola’s Xoom and RIM’s PlayBook, all trying to distinguish themselves from the absent iPad.


Lessons for Online Learning
Charter schools’ successes and mistakes have a lot to teach virtual educators
Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker
Source: Education Next
Advocates for virtual education say that it has the power to transform an archaic K-12 system of schooling. Instead of blackboards, schoolhouses, and a six-hour school day, interactive technology will personalize learning to meet each student’s needs, ensure all students have access to quality teaching, extend learning opportunities to all hours of the day and all days of the week, and innovate and improve over time. Indeed, virtual education has the potential not only to help solve many of the most pressing issues in K-12 education, but to do so in a cost-effective manner. More than 1 million public-education students now take online courses, and as more districts and states initiate and expand online offerings, the numbers continue to grow. But to date, there’s little research or publicly available data on the outcomes from K-12 online learning. And even when data are publicly available, as is the case with virtual charter schools, analysts and education officials have paid scant attention to-and have few tools for analyzing-performance. Until policymakers, educators, and advocates pay as much attention to quality as they do to expansion, virtual education will not be ready for a lead role in education reform.

Virtual education boom hits the states
David Harrison
WASHINGTON — A few years ago, when he was governor of West Virginia, Bob Wise attended a graduation ceremony at Pickens High School in Randolph County, a tiny school on top of a mountain where the graduating class consisted of only two students. As he was leaving, he asked the principal how the school was able to attract foreign language teachers.

Educators See Federal Overreach
Source: Inside Higher Education
WASHINGTON – Higher education officials urged lawmakers Friday to delay the planned July 1 implementation of Education Department regulations that would expand state authorization requirements and establish a federal definition of “credit hour.” Republican and Democratic members of the House Subcommittee on Higher Education and Workforce Training seemed to share some of the educators’ concerns about what they characterized as federal overreach into academic affairs.

Saudi Arabia emerging as regional e-learning leader: US professor
Shahid Ali Khan
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is taking a lead in the field of e-learning and distance education in the Gulf region, said Prof. Curtis J. Bonk of Indiana University.
Bonk was one of the 44 international keynote speakers, who addressed the four-day 2nd International Conference on e-Learning that concluded in Riyadh, Thursday.
He spoke on the topic of “e-learning: nature (technology) and nurture (pedagogy).” Bonk said the National Center for e-Learning and Distance Learning (NCEL), the organizer of the event had done a good job by inviting some of the leading international experts in the field of e-learning and distance education from different countries such as the United States, Britain, Australia, Malaysia, India, and Pakistan.

Video Games to Assess Learning
Howard T. Everson
Center for Advanced Study in Education
City University of New York
It has been estimated that more than 180 million people in the United States alone are “active gamers” i.e., they report playing video games more than thirteen hours per week (McGonigal, 2011). One of the more popular games, World of Warcraft, has over 10 million subscribers, some playing the game a staggering four hours a day, seven days a week (Bohannon, 2010). Those avid gamers, according to contemporary game designers and educational researchers (Tobias & Fletcher, 2011), are in fact developing their higher-order cognitive skills, like deductive and inductive reasoning and problem solving skills; and they are refining and furthering their conceptual understanding of gaming’s intellectual challenges by writing-blogging and contributing wiki articles, nearly a quarter million at last count, to the WoWWiki website (Clarke-Midura & Dede, 2010; McGonigal, 2011). By all measure, they have become an established, ongoing learning community.

Constructivist Pedagogy Is Superior – It Is a Matter of Definition
Keith S Taber
University of Cambridge
I am an educator, who considers himself to be a constructivist in terms of thinking about teaching and learning. I am strongly committed to (what I understand as) constructivist principles for making sense of learning (Taber, 2006), and I accordingly believe that effective pedagogy must be informed by constructivist thinking about learning. I do not think that we yet have a fully worked-out theory of what good constructivist teaching is, but we are making progress in that work. Certainly in my own area (of science education) I’m confident that we have the basis of a progressive research program to develop better pedagogy (Taber, 2009b). Given my acknowledged (or as some might consider, admitted) position, I assume I have been invited to contribute to the debate about constructivist instruction versus direct instruction (Tobias & Duffy, 2009) as someone seen to be in the constructivist camp. I am certainly happy to defend a constructivist position. However, as a good constructivist, I must point out that the understanding of constructivism I would wish to defend must be the one based on my own personal construction of what constructivist pedagogy is.

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Federal Consortium for Virtual Worlds (FCVW) Conference 2011
May 11-13

Innovations in e-Learning Symposium
June 7-9

EDEN Annual Conference, 2011
June 19-22

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The Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing (FSMFN) has an opening for an Information Technology Manager, in Lexington KY, to lead ongoing management/support of technologies.  Requirements: experience in higher education, student/learning management systems and SharePoint.   Bach degree in computer science.  Significant experience developing applications and interfaces using ASP.NET, C#, VB, and SQL is desirable. FSMFN ( is proud to have established the first distance education program in Nurse-midwifery (now the largest midwifery program) and the first Family Nurse Practitioner program in the U.S. FSMFN is ranked by US News & World Report in the top 50 graduate schools of nursing. To join our growing team, please send resume and cover letter to



The Frontier School of Midwifery & Family Nursing (FSMFN) has an immediate opening for an Instructional Designer responsible for the development of online courses and the use of technology to enhance student learning. Masters degree in instructional design and experience in online learning. Experience working with graduate nursing or healthcare preferred. FSMFN ( is proud to have established the first distance education program in Nurse-midwifery (now the largest midwifery program) and the first Family Nurse Practitioner program in the U.S. FSMFN is ranked by US News & World Report in the top 50 graduate schools of nursing. To join our growing team, please send resume and cover letter to



The Theresa A. and Lawrence C. Salameno director of Educational Program Development will create major educational programs, materials, and services focused on teacher development and the K-16 school market to meet the objectives of the Foundation’s education outreach initiative. The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation operates the world’s largest living history museum in Williamsburg, Virginia.  Here we interpret the origins of the idea of America, conceived decades before the American Revolution.  We invite you to … Be part of the story.  Colonial Williamsburg supports a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.  AA/EOE
Please visit this link for more information:



Join a vibrant campus community whose excellence is reflected in its diversity and student success. West Chester University of Pennsylvania seeks a highly qualified and experienced individual for the position of Executive Director for Distance Education. The successful candidate will have an earned masters (required) or doctorate (preferred) degree, 3 years of direct experience with distance education by either teaching distance education courses or serving in a supervisory or support role to a distance education program, and 2 years of management experience. Preference will be given to candidates who have significant experience with program development and management, faculty development and support, student support, and program assessment in a collective bargaining environment. The successful applicant will be able to demonstrate knowledge of current trends in technology and pedagogy as applied to distance programs, excellent organization and communications skills, and a firm commitment to diversity and equal opportunity goals. The Executive Director of Distance Education will oversee the development and on-going assessment of distance education and lead the strategic planning process for these initiatives. This position is responsible for all aspects of program administration, program budgeting, faculty and student development and support, program assessment, program marketing, and fund raising (grant writing and contracts). This management position reports directly to the Associate Provost with supervision of 1 FTE support staff. S/he oversees and ensures the efficient and effective interaction of distance programs with the various university support services.

Salary range is $73,455 – 97,940 annually, dependent upon qualifications and experience.  Excellent benefits package included. Applicants must successfully complete interview process to be considered as a finalist. Apply by on-line application at  Electronic submission allows for cover letter and resume attachments (required).  References with contact information will be required prior to interview. Review of applications will continue until the position is filled. Position is available immediately. AA/EOE. Women and minorities are encouraged to apply. The filling of this position is contingent upon available funding.


Ball State University invites applications and nominations for the position of Dean, School of Extended Education.  The university seeks an innovative, visionary leader with expertise in online and off-campus delivery of programs to serve as its Dean, School of Extended Education.  The successful candidate will have the ability and experience to integrate cutting-edge distance learning technology and pedagogy into a traditional university environment.  Demonstrable success in online/distance education program development, management, and marketing with an entrepreneurial mindset are required.  Applicants should have an earned doctorate and depth of experience in higher education administration with significant experience in online/distance education.

Ball State University is a selective, state-assisted doctoral granting institution serving more than 22,000 students.  The dean of the School of Extended Education (SEE) will support the university’s overall mission to redefine education by providing world-class learning experiences to a growing number of online and distance students (currently over 7,000 students are being served).  A distance learning pioneer since the 1980s, Ball State University reaches students globally through its online offerings as well as face-to-face programs delivered at sites located throughout Indiana.  The seven academic colleges offer more than 50 online/distance learning degrees and certificates.  Online enrollments have increased by more than 200 percent in the last 5 years (  The dean also oversees the university’s Building Better Communities (BBC) initiatives that include community, economic development, business services, and immersive learning experiences. (

Ball State University is located in Muncie, Indiana, a midsized Midwestern city one hour northeast of Indianapolis.  Muncie recently was named the national’s most affordable college town by Coldwell Banker. Minimum qualifications:  earned doctorate; significant experience in an area related to distance education, including budget management, development and implementation of online
education programs; excellent oral and written communication skills; ability to work with diverse groups.  Preferred qualifications:  experience in education program development and management; record of building strong and positive working relationships with peers and diverse stakeholders; excellent project planning, development and delivery of complex distance education projects; experience in state and local economic development programs and services; experience in non-credit professional education offerings; demonstrated success in acquiring external funding.

Send cover letter, curriculum vitae, copy of transcript of highest degree earned, and the names and contact information for three references to:  Dean Mitch Whaley, Search Committee Chair, c/o Office of the Provost, Ball State University, Muncie, IN  47306.  Review of applications will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled. Ball State University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer and is strongly and actively committed to diversity within its community.





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The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is a non-profit association formed in 1987 and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. The association reaches 20,000 people globally with our sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 Billion dollar U.S. Education and Training Market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-k-12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government and telehealth markets. The USDLA trademarked logo is the recognized worldwide symbol of dedicated professionals committed to the distance learning industry.

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