Life in a Hybrid World – Learning How to Flex
November 8 – 12, 2021
About the Conference
In a long tradition of honoring National Distance Learning Week (NDLW), this year the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) will once again host a free, virtual, week-long NDLW conference meant to:
- generate greater awareness and appreciation for distance learning;
- celebrate distance learning applications in K-12, telehealth, higher education, corporate, and government/military;
- discuss current issues and emerging trends;
- highlight best practices;
- recognize leaders in the field.
The Conference Theme
How do we manage the insecurity of a pandemic that has been affecting the world for two years now? How can we stay nimble? What is the best course of action in training, teaching and learning?
Poet Robert Frost beautifully captured this dilemma in a verse from his poem The Secret Sits: “We dance round in a ring and suppose, but the Secret sits in the middle and knows”. For most K-12, telehealth, higher education, corporate, and government/military organizations, “the secret” in 2021 was to explore the middle of the teaching, learning, and training spectrum modalities — the space between face-to-face and online.
Joins us this year as we explore everything from the terminology of this middle ground (i.e., blended, hybrid, flex, etc.), to how leaders in health-related disciplines found an optimal course to providing hands-on experiences, to what we need to know about psychological safety when designing an effective teaching environment, to how the pandemic influenced perceptions of distance learning, and much, much more!
We not only hope that you will enjoy and learn from each session, but also actively participate in each discussion, and share your takeaways and reflections on social media (more about that in our Social Media Toolkit below). Speaking of active participation, we warmly invite you to tweet questions you would like us to ask our Tuesday 12 pm EST and Wednesday 12 pm EST panelists; please use hashtag #NDLW2021QuestionRequest and our @USDLA Tweeter handle. Thank you and we look forward to your questions!
Registration for the USDLA National Distance Learning Week conference is now open!
This annual celebration of distance learning is complimentary and available to anyone. Register today and feel free to share the event with anyone interested in this distance education.
This year’s opening keynote is delivered by Dr. Kelvin Thompson.
COVID-19 has disrupted the field of online teaching and learning. If we yearn too fervently for a pre-pandemic past, though, we might miss the opportunities afforded by this moment. This session will offer for consideration some themes that might help us shape a future of our field that we want to live in.
Join us Friday, November 9, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST for this year’s award conferral.
Schedule At a Glance
Disclaimer: The schedule is subject to change at the conference organizers’ discretion and based on the availability of speakers. This page will always contain the most up-to-date version of the schedule.
Click on each day to see the detailed schedule.
Day 1: Monday, November 8th
Monday, November 8, 2021 from 12 to 12:45 pm EST
Online Learning: What Was, What Is, and What Could Be
Online teaching and learning is not new. There is a rich history and robust literature(s) emerging from the 20+ years of “web-based” online courses, 15+ additional years of non-web, internet-powered teaching and learning, and, of course, 100+ years of non-internet distance education preceding the modern era. We’ve learned a few things about empowering student learning and enabling successful teaching. But, pandemic. More than a year of nearly ubiquitous use of online tools and techniques as part of education’s response to COVID-19 has been disruptive. Many faculty and students discovered (a form of) online teaching and learning for the first time. Some hated it. Some excelled. But, either way, our field has been disrupted. Between distancing ourselves from poor implementations and championing a high bar for quality online design and teaching, we have run the risk of living in the past and being left behind by the future. The challenge before us is to hold on to what is essential from our successful past while reaching toward the possibilities inherent in our field’s new future even while our transitional present is still underway. This session will offer for consideration some themes that might help us shape a future of our field that we want to live in.
- Opening remarks by Dr. Arletha McSwain, United States Distance Learning Association President.
- Welcome and keynote speaker introduction by Dr. Georgianna Laws, National Distance Learning Week Chair.
Monday, November 8, 2021 from 1 to 1:45 pm EST
Dare to Care: Improve Blended Learning Outcomes Applying Instructor Immediacy
Dr. Tonya Leigh Riney, IntelliBoard COO
Researchers have strongly correlated improved learning and student engagement with teacher immediacy: behaviors associated to student perception of teacher care and concern. Join us as we review online teacher immediacy, review reporting related to teacher immediacy, and strategies to implement for improvement.
Monday, November 8, 2021 from 2 to 2:45 pm EST
Pandemic-Forced Improvement on Perceptions of Digital Learning and Future Expect
The world of higher education has been irreversibly changed by the experiences of teaching during the pandemic. This study examines these changes through the eyes of higher education faculty, academic administrators, and students. What do they think higher education will look like post-pandemic? How has their pandemic experience changed their opinions and desires? Which changes will stick, and which will not?
Monday, November 8, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST
The State of Higher Ed Student Success and Engagement
Ryan Lufkin, Instructure Senior Director, Global Product Marketing
In partnership with Hanover Research, Instructure sponsored a survey to check the pulse on higher ed student success, asking thousands of current students, administrators, and faculty from higher education institutions to define the components of student success and identify factors for engagement. We also investigated these groups’ perceptions of both the impact of COVID-19 and the role of socioeconomic factors on the educational experience. This session will present our findings.
Day 2: Tuesday, November 9th
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 12 to 12:45 pm EST
Discussion Panel with Leaders of National Organizations
Join this session to glean insights on blended learning from the unique perspective of the executive leaders of the National Council for Online Education member organizations & the United States Distance Learning Association. Serving on this panel are, in alphabetical order:
- Dr. Deb Adair, Quality Matters Executive Director
- Mr. Eric Jones, USDLA President-Elect
- Dr. Jennifer Mathes, Online Learning Consortium CEO
- Mr. Russel Poulin, WCET Executive Director
- Dr. Julie Uranis, UPCEA Vice President for Online and Strategic Initiatives
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 1 to 1:45 pm EST
Distance Learning Digital Escape Room
How much do you know about distance learning in the United States? Join this escape room to test your knowledge!
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 2 to 2:45 pm EST
Learning for the Now, Tomorrow, and Beyond
Have you asked why learning has looked the same for 200 years? It is a question that is constantly on my mind. Come see how Nevada is reimaging learning for students and families. Come take a ride through our educational gateway and see what innovations are in store for students of Nevada. This is a fully comprehensive approach to teaching the whole student while preparing each and every student to be Future, Community, and Civic Ready- The Battle Born Way!
Tuesday, November 9, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST
Leveraging Emerging Technologies to Boost Student Engagement
Marissa Rodriguez, Upswing Engagement Program Manager
Since many of Bladen Community College’s students did not have the option to be fully online during the pandemic, BCC had to be very nimble and flexible to engage with students both off and on campus. In January of 2021, the institution adopted an AI virtual assistant, as well as a pioneering mental health and wellness module for students and staff. These emerging technologies served to keep students engaged via simple text messages, offering reminders and encouragement while providing immediate resources for academic and non-academic challenges like mental health, which grew to unprecedented levels during the pandemic.
Day 3: Wednesday, November 10th
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 12 to 12:45 pm EST
Discussion Panel with Online Higher Education Leaders
Join this panel to hear from the unique perspective of leaders in online higher education as they discuss flexibility in the second year of the pandemic. Panelists will soon be announced.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 1 to 1:45 pm EST
Audio Plane Processing from Hardware to Cloud
Phil Marechal, Yamaha
Join this session to understand the mixture of hardware and software audio technologies with cloud-based applications. This will prepare practical advice on the implementation, testing, and understanding of different audio technologies in the signal path from sender to receiver. How do you plan around this complex mixture of technologies for the best experience? What are the different technologies used? When can you create an even level of experience for all users?
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 2 to 2:45 pm EST
Flex-Mode: Distance Hands-On Skills Training for Safe-Care of Human Subjects
Nursing simulation provides an environment for learning safe patient care and skills proficiency. Restrictions imposed by COVID necessitated personalized simulation with immediate access and reach. A university branded White Box, containing a personalized skills trainer (with fake body parts) and aligned skills equipment was utilized for distance students to simulate essential skills (nasogastric tube insertion, urinary catheterization, IV insertion) in their home. Students viewed evidence-based skills videos followed with self-paced deliberate practice and a self-recording demonstrating skill proficiency. Faculty assisted with video remediation/evaluation. The White Box concept and tools enhanced program belongingness, enhanced skill development, and maintained COVID protocols.
Wednesday, November 10, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST
Creating Relevant Virtual Field Clinical Experiences for Teacher Candidates
Creating authentic and relevant field clinical experiences for teacher candidates is an essential foundational component of an effective educator preparation program (EPP). It is through these classroom interactions that teacher candidates gain meaningful insight into the day-to-day processes that accompany them. Once remote instruction began during COVID-19, field clinical placements were immediately suspended leaving faculty in EPPs having to turn to virtual alternatives to complete course hours and key assignment requirements. These changes included the introduction of online venues such as tutorials, webinars, and even faculty and alumni-generated online learning series to compensate for the lack of contact hours.
Day 4: Thursday, November 11th
Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 12 to 12:45 pm EST
Psychological Safety and Higher Ed
Dr. Wendy Reisinger, American College of Education Dissertation Coordinator
Working in an online environment can have a lot of positives. However, there can also be some areas of challenge. Employees at all levels who feel psychologically safe are more productive, engaged and alert while conducting their work assignments and responsibilities. Conversely, those that do not feel psychologically safe engage in behaviors that are not helpful to themselves or to the organization. This session will go over what it looks like when one feels psychologically safe and when they do not. Practical questions and reflection points will be provided.
Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 1 to 1:45 pm EST
How to Thrive When Conducting Remote Admissions
Gregg Meiklejohn, Enrollment Resources CEO and Founder
Tom King, Enrollment Resources SVP, Strategic Initiatives
This session focuses on the six elements needed to deliver a best-practice remote admissions Interview. The presenters will argue that remote/virtual admissions will become the new best practice post-COVID, even for schools with ground campuses.
Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 2 to 2:45 pm EST
Can you solve this inaccessible puzzle? Find out, digital escape room style!
Will you solve the crime in this digital escape room and escape with the understanding of the role that accessible content plays in online learning? Join this session to find out!
eLearning authoring tools like Articulate Storyline 360 are used to create interactive, dynamic learning experiences without needing programming skills. Easy access to such technology allows designers to build experiences to bring about change. In this study, Storyline 360 was used to develop a digital escape room (DER) about digital accessibility.
The DER incorporated game-based learning principles and elements of the Integrated Design Framework for Playful Learning into the design. The Integrated Behavior Model (IBM) constructs were used to examine how they impact faculty willingness to develop accessible content, which is the intended behavior. The construct intention is the most critical determinant of the behavior. The DER is focused on influencing faculty intentions to develop accessible content and their saliency towards the behavior. The experience was used to also provoke self-reflection on barriers that may hinder faculty ability to create accessible online course content and how to overcome those barriers. The goal of the study was to use the affective domain to evoke empathy as faculty explored an immersive, digital environment to experience issues in online learning that impact learners who may have disabilities.
Thursday, November 11, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST
Reimagining the Workforce: Closing the Skills Gap Through Education
Working in an online environment can have a lot of positives. However, there can also be some areas Today’s workplace is experiencing a once-in-a-generation level of change. Businesses must respond to new challenges by equipping their employees with new skills and capabilities to position them for success in a rapidly modernizing workforce. The practice of offering tuition assistance and support programs to employees is seen as a top way to close the skills gap. In the Fall of 2020, Wiley Education Services surveyed over 600 human resources (HR) and learning and development (L&D) professionals, including nearly 100 leaders at the Executive/C-level, to get a better understanding of what the biggest skills gaps are and how companies are responding to widening gaps within their businesses. This report examines how employers view the scope and impact of workforce skills gaps, the role education benefits play, and at what level they are incorporated into a company’s strategic plan. Educators and administrators will be treated to insights from the Reimagining the Workforce 2021: Closing the Skills Gap Through Education report.
Day 5: Friday, November 12th
Friday, November 12, 2021 from 12 to 12:45 pm EST
Learning Is Creation, Not Consumption
One of the main challenges in the virtual world, is to engage your learners so that they’re not just absorbing information but actively participating in the exchange.
As we, at TLG like to say, “Learning is creation not consumption”. It’s about replacing lectures with learning activities to truly engage the learners and put them into the driver seat.
This session is all about creating learner-driven activities that enhances your virtual training sessions.
Friday, November 12, 2021 from 1 to 1:45 pm EST
What’s next for hybrid learning?
Bob Knauf, Poly
15 months ago, educational organizations of all sizes spent all of their time trying to figure out hybrid learning as fast as they could. In recent months, those same organizations have spent even more time trying to figure out how to get students back into the classroom. Some plan on putting all of their new technology in a closet and hope never to use again, others want to continue to use it and the majority want help knowing how it can improve their day-to-day mission. In this session, let’s dig in to see how educators, administrators, students and parents quickly became video conferencing experts overnight and what the future holds for this technology in the classroom.
Friday, November 12, 2021 from 2 to 2:45 pm EST
The Future of Academic Integrity: Privacy, Proctoring, and Protection in 2040
Join this session to brainstorm the future of academic integrity. What challenges do you anticipate? What technologies will challenge us, and what technologies will assist us? How will micro-credentials, life-long learning, the monetization of cheating, and employer training programs impact our approaches to defining academic integrity? How will robots, artificial intelligence, blockchain, and other innovations change how we detect and determine authentic work? Will personal identity protections change or influence acceptable practices? In this session, participants will formulate answers to these questions and work to define the most likely scenario for 2040, all designed to help inform strategy.
Friday, November 12, 2021 from 3 to 3:45 pm EST
USDLA 2021 Awards Ceremony
Led by Ms. Wendy Pate, Awards Chairwoman.
Closing remarks by Dr. Arletha McSwain, United States Distance Learning Association President.
All sessions will be recorded and the recordings will be available for free to USDLA members. If you would like to learn more about USDLA membership, please visit https://usdla.org/membership/.
NDLW Session Survey
As you attend sessions, kindly take a moment to fill out the NDLW 2021 session survey letting us know your thoughts. We will use the same survey for each session. We appreciate your feedback!
Social Media Toolkit
The official hashtag for this event is #NDLW2021.
Our social media handles are:
- @USDistanceLearningAssoc on Facebook
- @us-distance-learning-association on LinkedIn
- @USDLA on Twitter.
Our logo variations are attached here for presenters and panelists to use in their social media posts and/or to personalize their Zoom backgrounds.
Affiliate Local NDLW Events
National Distance Learning Week (NDLW) is presented by the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA), on a national level. However, NDLW is also celebrated by USDLA state chapters as well as schools, colleges, universities, or corporations.
- European Distance Learning Week
- University of South Carolina at Aiken National Distance Learning Week
If your school, college, or corporation is planning to conduct an affiliate local NDLW event to celebrate and promote the field of online learning, please display this year’s NDLW logo (see our Social Media Kit section above) on your page and then email a link to your page to Ms. Jackie Ravella at email@example.com and/or Dr. Georgianna Laws at firstname.lastname@example.org with a request to link your event here.
For any suggestions or questions about National Distance Learning Week please contact:
Dr. Georgianna Laws
We are grateful to our 2021 USDLA NDLW sponsors!
If you are interested in becoming a sponsor, please visit https://usdla.org/membership/sponsorship/.
All 2021 NDLW sessions will be recorded and the recordings will be available for free to USDLA members. If you would like to learn more about USDLA membership, please visit https://usdla.org/membership/.