An Online Design and eLearning Faculty Travel Grant recently took our Tupelo campus writing center director from Elvis’ hometown to one of his favorite haunts — Las Vegas, NV. Rachel Johnson, attended “eLearning 2015” sponsored by the Instructional Technology Council and the College of Southern Nevada after receiving a grant sponsored by the Provost’ office and administered through the Online Design and eLearning.
Of her experience, Rachel wrote, “This conference presented an exciting opportunity for me as both an instructor and the director of a student support service. Over the course of the four days I was there, I attended numerous sessions, workshops, and presentations related to strategies for teaching online and effectively supporting students who take online courses.
In particular, many sessions were themed around the concept of developing techniques for reaching students at a distance and creating a “culture of success” online. As an instructor, I want to encourage my students to invest in learning all they can from my class and to find ways to extend their skills into their personal and professional lives. I believe that such an emphasis helps students see the immediate rewards of their education and motivates them to succeed. One keynote speaker from the conference presented on promoting participation from all students through “high-impact practices.” She argues that these HIPs involve experiential learning and “transform students at the academic and personal level.” The course I currently teach has a primary research component that I think connects really well to this idea of experiential learning. I am excited to incorporate HIPs to help students transform in these ways.
The conference also benefits my work as the director of UM-Tupelo’s writing center. One day of the conference specifically focused on providing academic assistance to improve the retention of online students. The Writing Center already offers online tutoring, but we are always looking for ways to add to our web presence and create more tools and resources that can be accessed on the student’s time. One session speaker addresses how to meet the demands of students for convenience and flexibility without sacrificing sound pedagogical frameworks for improving writing skills.