As online learning continues to evolve, it is important that university faculty and administrators adapt with it. At the 2019 OLC Accelerate Conference in Orlando, FL in November, Wiley University Services discussed trending topics and themes with Kathy Phoenix of Our Lady of the Lake University and William Hutzel of Purdue University. Both are part of the Wiley Fellows initiative which aims to foster a community of practice among Wiley’s institutional partners focused on innovations in online teaching and learning.
Wiley University Services: OLC Accelerate is the ideal place to listen and learn from leaders in online education. Based on your experience this year, was there anything that seemed to be a hot topic in the sessions you attended?
Kathy Phoenix (Our Lady of the Lake University): I saw a trend in trying to enhance the feeling of community for online students to help them feel a part of the university.
William Hutzel (Purdue University): I don’t think there was one particular theme, but there is a lot of opportunity and developments in instructional design. Coming in as a novice and as a person who teaches the class, I found that there are a lot of different areas to focus on.
Wiley: What sessions did you find the most interesting this year?
Phoenix: My fellow Wiley Fellows did a very interesting one on looking at the hierarchy and the importance of quality of courses. This included teaching strategies that are most likely to positively impact students. And we played Family Feud in it!
Hutzel: The one I benefited the most from was a review of technologies that enhanced group projects in different ways. It discussed how to have synchronous and asynchronous communications with groups of students. It also reviewed all of the technologies that are out there–I was surprised how many there were.
Wiley: Was there anything in the sessions that surprised you?
Phoenix: As faculty, it was interesting to see behind the scenes of what all the other folks do. Also, I was here a few years ago and coming back now, I’m amazed at how much new software is being developed.
Hutzel: Many of the topics that were talked about today go on behind the scenes without my knowledge. For example, there was a session on how to develop good quality videos, and that was the furthest thing from my mind. I am appreciative of working with Wiley because as a faculty member I am able to focus on content and do not need to worry about the quality of my videos because I know Wiley will take care of it.
Wiley: What big takeaways will you apply to your institution?
Phoenix: I got some really good ideas on how to engage with my online students.
Hutzel: It just reinforced to me that quality is key. It’s a competitive marketplace and if you have a unique, well-done product, there is a place to market that and do well. There are a lot of people doing the same thing and you better bring your “A” game.
Wiley: Now that you have had the chance to meet the other Wiley Fellows, how do you think you will benefit from and contribute to the online education community?
Phoenix: I’m excited to work with Fellows who specialize in other academic disciplines. I think this will help open my mind when looking at something. I’m in social work and my project partners specialize in criminal justice so we will approach the topics with totally different languages and that is exciting to me.
Hutzel: It will be interesting for me to talk about the big school perspective but then in many ways, the online environment levels the playing field significantly. The diversity of thoughts is exciting.
For more information of the Wiley Fellows program and their individual projects, click here. Or, visit our Resources page to read other Fellows’ general insights, opinions, and experiences with online learning.