For those of us who work with technology as part of our daily roles, we understand that the luxury of advanced planning doesn’t always fit into everyday reality. Such was the situation at our annual U.S. Distance Learning Association (USDLA) awards dinner.
As my fellow Board members and I were busy planning the 2017 USDLA annual conference this past May in Indianapolis, I had a unique request from an awards winner just days before the event – could I bring her into the conference virtually to accept her award?
Since I love a good challenge, it didn’t take me long to say “we can do that” and so began the effort to bring Lee Gambol from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History into our annual awards dinner.
It’s moments like this that I truly enjoy, minimal time for planning (since we are dealing with technology at an unknown venue), a little pressure (as we are doing this in a live event in front of hundreds of attendees) and the chance for a huge amount of satisfaction if it can bring a smile to the face of the award winner.
The awards are a big deal in the USDLA world and having been present for the past 10+ years, I can still see the smiles on the faces of the winners from years past and sense the feeling of pride as they take the stage to accept their awards.
Working for an integration company has its advantages in situations like these; a couple of extra cables, a camera, some audio gear and a partner relationship with Zoom Video Conferencing (by the way, a great product) was all that we needed to transport Lee from Ohio into the meeting room.
Not only were we able to successfully beam Lee into the room virtually to accept her award, we went one step further. We actually positioned her on the screen so that when we did a group shot of all the award winners at the end of the show, she was there as well! No need for Photoshop here folks, just good old-fashioned ingenuity.
It’s moments like these that make me even prouder than I already am to be associated with this organization. If you want to join our incredible organization visit us at www.usdla.org/membership. And be sure to mark your calendar to join us next year in Indianapolis! Maybe you, too, can be an award winner.
Learn more about the USDLA and how you too can be a member by visiting www.usdla.org/membership. The association supports all core markets including Enterprise, Government, Telemedicine, Education and others.
Our Association is unique, not only for its historical commitment to distance learning, but also for engaging with a broad spectrum of distance learning professionals – K-12, higher education, corporate, government, military, telehealth, and home schooling. While more narrowly focused organizations have an important role, a powerful perspective emerges when bright minds serving diverse constituencies come together.
The USDLA was formed in 1987. At that time, companies like Yahoo and Google were still years away. “Power users” were boasting of their Intel 386 processors. In that context, DL was a concept well outside the educational mainstream. Granted, a few people knew something of the process but hands-on DL experience was rare. USDLA, then, provided a means for these pioneers to find one another.
Today, with more than one-third of college students taking an online class, it’s a far different world but USDLA remains a vital player. Our members continue to seek out other DL professionals. These practitioners still want to grow and want to offer students a strong education in a robust community of learning. Today, USDLA stands out as a remarkable resource for teachers and administrators who want to enhance the learning experience.