Traffic has increased, school supplies are in high demand, pumpkin spiced items have already hit the shelves, the marching bands are rehearsing, and there’s a hint of a chill in the air. We are heading toward my favorite season, fall, which means it’s time for football, switching from iced to hot coffee, finding those scarves and sweaters, and, that it’s time to welcome us all back to school!Four fall leaves on peices of wood.

This year I’m thrilled to celebrate my one-year anniversary as a WCET team member. I am so lucky to be a part of this team. I can’t wait to attend, assist with, and present at the 29th Annual Meeting this year in Denver, CO on October 25-27. There’s still time to join us at the early bird rate.

Finally, I am looking forward to participating in and co-hosting (as WCET) this year’s DLNchat’s with EdSurge Higher Ed, OLC, New Media Consortium, and Tyton Partners. These twitter chats, held twice per month, are engaging, educational, and incredibly fun. Join our professional learning community!

When we discussed putting together a “welcome back post,” Russ mentioned that he is excited for the on-going and new partnerships between WCET and other organizations. All the partnerships have the goal to better serve our members and, ultimately, to better serve students:

  • The Digital Learning Compass work on distance education trends and patterns enters its second year in full partnership with Babson Survey Research Group and e-Literate.
  • The Online Learning Consortium and WCET are exploring ways to help members learn how to tackle issues around accessibility. Watch for panels with experts at both of our upcoming conferences and a survey assessing needs this fall.
  • We want to more formally partner between the State Authorization Network and National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements to avoid duplication in our work.
  • Several organizations are partnering on a list of questions that students seeking an online program could be asking.
  • We have begun negotiations with UPCEA to add a policy emphasis to their leadership event.

In honor of the start of another fall term, Russ and I chatted with a few of our team members and our Steering Committee and Executive Committee chairs about what they are looking forward to this year.Trees changing colors in the fall

From WCET Leadership

Our Executive Committee Chair, Luke Dowden, told us that:

“I am excited about design thinking and loved the session at WCET’s Summit. For me, increasing my competency in design thinking will produce more successful outcomes for the project I engage in or initiatives I choose to fund.”

In fact, he was so excited about it, he wrote a blog post about it!

Luke Dowden, Director, Office of Distance Learning, University of Louisiana at Lafayette

Nick White, Chair of the WCET Steering Committee, told us that he is excited about “the emerging digital alternative credentials ecosystem, and how that will help shift thinking toward skills and competencies and away from credit hours and classes and PDF/paper transcripts and resumes and all the antiquated artifacts that are so central to our current world.”

-Nick White, Director, Competency Based Learning Solutions, Capella University

From the WCET Team

We also asked the WCET team what they are excited about for this year.

Emerging Technologies

Rosa Calabrese is looking forward to seeing where emerging technologies take higher education, saying “I’m excited to see how mainstream emerging technology will continue to be incorporated into higher education this year. In the past, I have enjoyed seeing projects that revolve around bringing virtual reality, artificial intelligence, blockchain, etc. into not only the classroom, but also into education management more broadly. I’m excited to see how that creativity can make an impact on education this year.” WCET will stay connected with our members about where these (and other exciting technologies) are headed.

-Rosa Calabrese, Manager, Digital and Project Support Services, WCET

Focusing on Students

Wooden scabble tiles with the words

“As our students, teachers, and staff “go back to school” this fall, I am excited about the increasing focus by institutions “on the students,” recognizing not all students come with the same motivations, skills and backgrounds,” says Mollie McGill, WCET’s Director of Programs and Membership.

She continued, “I see more institutions breaking away at siloed functions and identifying ways to make services and resources more readily available to students. Finally, I’m super stoked that WCET is the Backbone organization to the Digital Learning Solution Network. While the Network has some heavy lifting today, I’m excited by the importance and potential impact of the Network.”

– Mollie McGill, Director of Programs and Membership, WCET

WCET Annual Meeting

“Every year around back to school time, I get a little panicked and I don’t even have kids! School buses and thousands of college students will surely disrupt my commute to the office,” says Sherri Artz Gilbert. She continued by reminding us that fall “means we are only few months away from the magical time of year when our members convene at the annual meeting. It really is like a giant family reunion. WCET does much more than the annual meeting but it certainly is the highlight of the year for me. I am in communication with members all year long but getting together really seals the deal of what this Cooperative is all about. I look forward to seeing everyone soon.”

– Sherri Artz Gilbert, Assistant Director, Operations and Member Services, WCET

Megan Raymond continued the theme of being excited for the annual meeting, saying “Fall is always an exciting time around the WCET office as we ramp up for our Annual Meeting.”

Lucky for you, Megan has a sneak peek at the Annual Meeting closing session for 2017: “I am really looking forward to this year’s program which features some new twists and traditional sessions. The closing session is one I’m most looking forward to, Stump the Higher Ed Expert. A panel of esteemed colleagues will receive questions from the audience and a panel of judges will evaluate panelist’s responses. This will be a highly interactive session, should be fun to watch!”

-Megan Raymond, Assistant Director of Programs and Sponsorship, WCET

As you can see, the team can’t wait to see you this fall at the 29th WCET Annual Meeting. Early bird registration ends September 22! Join us in Denver!


State Authorization Network

Terri Taylor Straut is working on a project to update the research on Secretary of State Reporting Requirements for all 50 states for our SAN members.

She told me that “while SARA participation helps our members institutions with the basics of state authorization, it does not have alleviate the need to register with the Secretary of State in states that require a filing. It has historically been very difficult for institutions to know whether or not they need to file. This SAN primary research effort is a step toward greater transparency and communication. “We are all excited about this project which will be a great help for our SAN members.

-Terri Taylor Straut, Senior Research Analyst, WCET

Cheryl Dowd, the Director of the State Authorization Network, is excited about “our growing SAN membership and developing new virtual and face to face interactions, programs, and research to help prepare our 700 institutions efficiently manage state and federal regulatory compliance and state professional licensing requirements.” WCET SAN logo reading The growth of SAN has been incredible, and kudos to Cheryl and company for the outstanding resources and events she’s developed and offered this year!

-Cheryl Dowd, Director, State Authorization Network, WCET

OER /Open Textbooks

Our newest WCET employee, Tanya Spilovoy said: “I’m excited to have the opportunity to interact with even more WCET members as the Z Initiative grows. I know I’ll learn as much from them as they’ll learn from me. And I can’t wait to start planning OER workshops and the Z Squad.”

– Tanya Spilovoy, Director, Open Policy, WCET

Another Great Year

And finally, from Mike Abbiatti, our fearless leader:

“I am excited about the fantastic Annual Meeting agenda, the dynamic Leadership Summit planning, the launch of the Gates Digital Learning Network initiative, and the opportunity to provide another year of leadership support for the nation’s number one provider of responsive excellence in policy, practice and advocacy in technology-enhanced education as we serve our membership in 2017-2018.

-Mike Abbiatti, Executive Director, WCET

So many excited opportunities await us this year! Our team and WCET leadership wish you all well as we head into fall!

What are you excited for? Let us know in the comments below or tweet us @wcet_info #WelcomeBackWCET



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Lindsey Downs
Manager, Communication



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