BU Online Wows Audience and Accepts Award at 2011 USDLA Conference

We don’t have time to attend many conferences, so when we do it’s a pretty big deal. From May 1-4, 2011, our own Jim Frey and Charles Southworth attended the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) national conference in St. Louis, along with Judith Simpson, BU professor and lead faculty member of CFA’s online Master’s in Art Education program. Judith, Charles, and Jim made a presentation entitled Kaleidoscope of Perspectives! Best Practices in Collaborative Design.

The session was an exploration of some of the ways in which open collaboration among education professionals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints can lead to successful student learning. The title of the session is a metaphor for working with the materials at your disposal, but putting them together in a new and possibly unexpected way.kaleidoscope

Judith focused on the curriculum of the online Art Education program, Jim spoke about the design work he and Judith have experienced together, and Charles talked about his perspective as a media producer. They primarily stressed that our collaborative development approach makes us able to use each other’s skills and knowledge to continually adjust our design and delivery to the benefit of the students.

“I feel very fortunate that we have such a great well staffed, well run Distance Education division and such competent student services both academically and technically in CFA and DE.”

Judith Simpson, PhD
Lead Faculty Member, BU Online Master of Arts in Art Education

Steps in the collaborative process include:

  1. The designer takes the instructor’s content expertise and works with her to translate that into the online environment through a collaborative back-and-forth process.
  2. The media team helps articulate the vision of the subject matter expert using audio, video, and media-rich interactive activities and learning objects.
  3. And because of the synergy of the team, we’re able to constantly adjust and tweak our assumptions and vision of what this thing we are creating needs to be. Our courses end up being even better than what we had initially imagined. . .better than any one of us could have made them individually.

Jim and Char21st Centuryles were also on hand to accept our fourth USDLA award. This year we received the prestigious 21st Century Award for Best Practices in Distance Learning. The USDLA International Awards are closely followed by the distance learning industry. “As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we enjoy honoring some of the leaders in the industry,” said Dr. John G. Flores, Executive Director of USDLA. “Each year these winners raise the bar and exceed best practice expectations for the industry as a whole and we are truly honored by their contributions to the distance learning industry.”

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