Hello from the WCET Annual Conference –

More fun and learning from Denver.  The temperatures outside warmed up  and so did the sessions inside.  Here are more thoughts, comments, and things we learned today…

Mike Goldstein, from the Dow Lohnes law firm, informed us that state authorization is just the “tip of the iceberg” in federal regulations regarding distance education.  Regulations for us to watch (and WCET will be watching these) are:

  • Definition of the Credit Hour– The new federal definition reflects the old Carnegie unit of one hour of classroom time plus two hours of outside preparation (or study).  This could have a chill on innovation.
  • Incentive Compensation – The idea of eliminating per student “bounties” for recruiting students (whether they belong in college or not) sounds like a good idea on the face of it.  However, this prohibition was expanded to non-Title IV programs.  It also eliminated the possibility for incentives for activities that were less sinister.
  • Misrepresentation – This regulation penalizes and institution that makes any false, erroneous, or misleading statement.  There is also “substantial misrepresentation” if a student relies on information from a college to his or her detriment. Virtually any communication (marketing, website, advice from faculty, etc.) is subject to the rule.  Are you checking these statements?
  • Last Day of Attendance – For students who drop out of a class, we have always needed to determine the last day of attendance to calculate the amount of the financial aid is entitled to keep or refund.  Attendance is usually a good enough indicator for face-to-face course, but distance students need to demonstrate “academic engagement.”  Just logging into the course management system is not good enough.
  • Gainful Employment – For “recognized occupations” institutions will need to show that there is a market for its graduates.

For the session Videoconferencing Passe or in Vogue?, Luc Comeau said that “videoconferencing is not passé, it is very effective in storytelling.”  Networks in UT, WY, ND, and LA are all seeing resurgence in use of their video networks. One trend is the experimentation of additional technologies, e.g. lecture capture, to explore enhancements to these networks.  More sessions on the future of videoconferencing!

Russ Poulin, Pam Shay and Sharyl Thompson
Russ Poulin, Pam Shay and Sharyl Thompson wearing the answer to any question regarding state authorization – It Depends!

In the session State Authorization – One Year Later, former Florida regulator Jeannie Yockey-Fine said that “this is not rocket science.”  It is up to institutions to know what activities they are doing in a state, know the regulations of a state, and get to know the regulators in the states.  Create a relationship with the regulators. It is not time to sit back and wait.

The Richard Jonsen Award is given each year to an individual who has made a significant contribution to the e-learning community and WCET during his or her career. We are please that Michael Offerman, president emeritus of Capella University, was named the 2011 recipient of WCET’s most prestigious award.

Three WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Awards were honored:

  • Century College and the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities for its GPS LifePlanThis service helps students achieve their educational, career, and personal goals by putting them in charge of creating intentional connections with their campus and making their own personal plans for tapping into a host of campus resources.
  • Kansas State University for its University Life Cafe which serves as the first interactive college website promoting the mental wellness and academic success of college students.
  • Regis University’s Passport to Course Development provides creative training and support for faculty, oftentimes adjunct faculty, who are new to the online environment. Using a “passport” metaphor, faculty get their passport stamped as they traverse a colorful interactive world map representing various design and development destinations.

No one got hurt during the 2011 “WCET Smackdown,” unless their sides hurt from laughing.  Presenters were challenged to present compelling ideas in 20 slides that are displayed for 20 seconds each.  It’s fast, it’s furious, and it’s fun.  The team of Myk Garn and Ritchie Boyd were a big hit with their “You Learn, We Earn” tongue-in-check analysis of the current state of higher education.  We captured the presentations on video for your enjoyment.

Cable Green (Creative Commons) talked about creating and using “non-rivalrous” educational materials.  According to the IT Law Wiki, a good is non-rivalrous if the use of the good by one individual does not limit the amount of the good available for consumption by others.  Open educational resources fill the bill.  We also talked about how WCET can help continue support for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant Program.

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