Day two of the Teaching and Learning Conference at Ashford University has truly transformed my educational perspective and has made a forever imprint on the way that I think, learn, grown and engage with students, faculty, staff, and colleagues. My experience began with a presentation from Dr. Karen Ivy, who kicked off day two of the conference, with a long-overdue conversation about the “Dangers of a Single Story”. In a reflection of my takeaways from the session, I recognize how impactful stereotypes and beliefs are, that I have established in my professional practice, in my everyday interactions with students, faculty, and staff. This was a mindful “ah-ha” moment that was perfect to start my day and remind me to ensure that I seek the complete story each and every time to avoid some of the traps and pitfalls that assumptions encourage me to fall into. The session produced a participant who was now ready to engage in the full picture of every situation and take accountability for my role and responsibility in the everyday contribution of sharing an accurate story.
My journey then took me right into a very informative session on “Disrupting Asynchronous Learning: Analyzing Use of Zoom for Student Engagement and Success” with presenters Dr. Jennifer Vogel and Dr. Alan Belcher. They provided me with research that supports the technology I use to support student success and engagement. They pointed out several ways that we can use video conferencing technology to increase engagement and have a greater impact on my connection with students. This was a “just-in-time” reminder to break out the habits and typical ways that we engage in the classroom within the online platform, identify what the challenges and barriers to communication may be, and improve how we collaborate globally. After feeling that the conference just couldn’t get any better, I wandered into a session on “Gleaning from the Friendly Orange Glow: Lessons in Learner Equity from the PLATO System” facilitated by Dr. Joshua Reichard. Dr. Reichard presented a thorough and vibrant view into the history of what we activate as automated learning in the online model. Every day we are shifting back towards this model to get closer and closer to effective online learning experiences. He placed an emphasis on recognizing that automated responses provide an opportunity for the structure in the learning environment however, we must do our part to ensure that we provide the companion dialog along with the structure to ensure that learning is effective and engaging. I am making a commitment to higher dialogue and engagement with the students that I work with.
I attended one more session with a heightened sense that I was well versed on the subject and would more likely not learn anything new, I was happily mistaken. The last session that I was able to attend was “Accessing Accommodations: Framework for Faculty” with presenter Rachel Orlansky from the Department of Access and Wellness at Ashford University. She shared a great deal of insight of how her department is deeply committed and connected to the University’s mission of equity and inclusion and supports laws and policies that protect our students that I was previously unaware of. I walked away with a great sense of how deep our commitment goes for our students, what we do to provide equitable learning experiences for them and how I can partner with these services to ensure that I have a connection to resources that may be able to support a student choosing online education to meet their diverse needs.
Leaving day two with a well-rounded experience and bag full of resources, I yet look forward to the amazing sessions that are still to come from TLC!
Academic Issues Liaison