It’s that time again – let’s take a look at 2020’s Top 10 Frontiers blog posts based on views by you, our readers!
Thank you for your support of WCET Frontiers through your subscriptions, comments, sharing, and guest authoring! 2020 was a challenge for us all, but we hope our posts provided you with assistance, explanations, and promising practices to help you with getting through each day.
Before We Announce the “Winners…”
Before we get to the Top 10, I’d like to feature some posts that didn’t quite make the “most read” list, but were nonetheless important topics discussed by our guest authors and staff.
Our most read post from 2020 was actually posted in 2019! Cheryl Dowd and Dan Silverman from the WCET State Authorization Network (SAN) reviewed the release of the “long awaited” 2019 Final Federal Regulations “Student Assistance General Provisions, The Secretary’s Recognition of Accrediting Agencies, The Secretary’s Recognition Procedures for State Agencies.” Based on the proposed regulations released in June 2019, these rules were a result of consensus through the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process. This post, the first of two, reviewed state authorization related regulations, the guidance WCET and SAN asked of the Department of Education during the public comment period, any responses received to our public comment, and implications for institutions upon implementation.
Cheryl authored the number two post on our list as well when she wrote about the guidance from the Department of Education to address compliance with Title IV of the Higher Education Act for institutions whose activities were impacted by COVID-19. The article reviewed compliance flexibilities put in place to accommodate students so they could continue with their education as much as was possible. Cheryl also included information on the resources WCET curated regarding COVID-19.
Well, Cheryl was apparently quite the prolific author this year for Frontiers!
In her sports themed post on professional licensure disclosures, Cheryl provided the one-month warning for the implementation of state authorization and processional licensure disclosure regulations. The new regulations were effective July 1, 2020, and this post plus the new handbook from SAN and author Shari Miller were great playbooks and diagrams to help institutions ensure compliance.
To be honest, I would have been surprised if this post had not been on this list. A frequent flyer on our top read posts, this article from 2016 was written by Russ Poulin and Van Davis. The piece is a primer on interpreting the rules which require courses to include “regular and substantive interaction” between instructors and students. The article contains resources, the origin story for the phrase “regular and substantive interaction,” the main players interested in this topic, and the elements that add-up to regular and substantive interaction. Russ and Van also reviewed the impact of these rules on financial aid and laid out our further work in this area.
At first, we thought this might be an April Fool’s Day joke, but it really wasn’t! This post from Van Davis reviewed the last set of regulations from the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process, which were released for public comment on April 1st. This first post reviewed regular and substantive interaction and the second post (number 7 in this list) focused on changes to the definition of credit hour, changes in the calculation of correspondence education eligibility for Title IV financial aid programs, and proposed changes to defining a week of instruction for calculating an academic year.
The new regulations, mentioned above and below, were released in April for public comment and the final versions were released in late August 2020. This post from Van Davis reviewed re-definitions of distance education, regular and substantive interaction, clock and credit hours, academic year and week of instructional time, and direct assessment/CBE type programs.
See number five above… This post focused on the regulations from the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking process, which were released for public comment on April 1, 2020. In this second post, Van Davis reviewed changes to the definition of credit hour, changes in the calculation of correspondence education eligibility for Title IV financial aid programs, and proposed changes to defining a week of instruction for calculating an academic year.
Based on work completed by several WCET SAN workgroups on designated topic areas, this post provided ideas for communicating with stakeholders about such research and disclosures. The post also reviewed the importance of the topic and how to work within your institutional culture to showcase that importance. Finally, the article advised on getting your “foot in the door” to have a meeting, and how to prepare for stakeholder meetings.
Cyndi Rowland, Executive Director of WebAIM, reminded us of the importance of keeping accessibility in mind even when courses are delivered using different modalities, as they were due to the pandemic. Learning materials were often inaccessible, applications selected to help facilitate learning were not usable by all, and materials caused issues as well (many were scanned or made without accessibility principles in mind). Cyndi provided great starting points for faculty and staff on how to make sure learning content was usable by all learners.
Our final post in the list was the third and final post analyzing the proposed rules based on the 2019 Negotiated Rulemaking Process, which were released April 1, 2020. This post, again from Van Davis, reviewed the proposed changes to direct assessment and competency-based education programs.
Thank you for reviewing our Top 10 blog posts of 2020 with us! Like I said before, we appreciate your support of Frontiers and look forward to sharing more promising practices and information next year!
Lindsey started with WCET as a consultant in March of 2016 and became the manager of communications for WCET the following September. Now in her current role, Lindsey represents WCET to the outside world through press relations, social media, and publications. She develops content such as member newsletters and collects and summarizes higher education digital learning news articles and is the administrator and community manager for our virtual community platform, wcetMIX. Lindsey is an integral part of our team and each year she manages the WCET Awards program to honor our innovative members and serves as the editor for WCET Frontiers.
Prior to joining WCET, Lindsey worked in the Montana State University Information Technology Center on their communications and instructional technology teams and with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Montana, first as a training specialist and then as an instructional designer. Lindsey holds a Masters of Education in Higher Education and Adult Learning, a College Teaching certification from Montana State University, and a Masters Certificate in Instructional Design with an Online Learning Specialization from Walden University.
Lindsey affectionately calls her home filled with two rambunctious boxer dogs (Piper and Bogart) and an energetic toddler (Josie), her “circus,” and loves spending time chasing her kiddos around the trails throughout Helena, MT with her husband. In her free time, she enjoys baking and cooking, especially when her recipes actually turn out well. Lindsey is an avid reader who enjoys reading about many book characters, namely Harry from Harry Potter and Josephine March from the classic Little Women. In fact, Jo March happens to be her daughter’s namesake.