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National Distance Learning Week

Next week (Nov 11-15) is National Distance Learning Week.

What does that mean for us at XULA Online? Annual events afford us the opportunity to see how far we’ve come and make sure we’re on the right track to get where we want to go. On a national level, we are also part of a larger community of learners, all striving for similar goals.

So, let’s start by looking back. This time last year (November 2012) Xavier had just offered 8 online summer sections in the College of Arts and Sciences and we were gearing up to offer more for the following summer. The FaCTS topic of “Engaging Students in Online Courses” had just been announced and the E Learning Committee had been formed and was meeting to analyze what challenges must be overcome if Xavier were going to make a push to increase online/hybrid course offerings.

Now, in November 2013, Xavier has just offered 28 online/hybrid sections this past summer with an enrollment of over 450 students, and that from very minimal promotion of these courses. The students found the courses because the demand was there. This fall, our FaCTS panel discussed their online experiences to a filled seminar room. The E Learning Committee has been morphed into the XULA Online Advisory Board and tasked to work on Faculty and Student Handbooks among other things. In addition, a respectable number of online/hybrid courses is being offered this fall and in the spring plus plans are being made for an even larger selection of summer courses.

We’re making available to instructors the CAT Online Faculty Resource Center very shortly, have conducted several Blackboard Collaborate training sessions, and have met with individual faculty members and department representatives to discuss future offerings and how to prepare instructors. To celebrate National Distance Learning Week, Quality Matters is offering special workshops and if you’ve already taken the first Quality Matters course, you’re eligible for one of these workshops as well. (If you didn’t receive the email and may be interested, just contact me at x7692.)

Services are being considered for ensuring academic honesty in online test-taking (Respondus Monitor, student readiness to succeed in online classes (SmarterMeasure) and a much-needed 24/7 student technical support service (Blackboard Student Services).  In addition, XULA Online is now part of social media:  xulaonline@xula.edu is our email address; www.xula.edu/xulaonline is our website, and we're on Facebook, Twitter and Linked In.

Quite important for me is that I was fortunate enough to have been chosen as the not so new now Distance Education Coordinator and I’m just thrilled to be learning so much from my CAT colleagues and meeting with faculty and student!. I am doing my best to listen and respond to your suggestions, needs and challenges.

Moving ahead amid the flurry of so much activity in so many different arenas, it’s important to always, always remember that STUDENT LEARNING is our goal for XULA Online. After all, it is called National Distance LEARNING Week! I’m looking forward to November 2014 and excited and curious to see what I’ll have to report then.

David Powell

David Powell explains his recipe for success in Spanish 1020 online.

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