Welcome to the Fall 2014 Newsletter!
Welcome to the Fall 2014 MDE Newsletter. This is the place to find the latest MDE Community news. Our presence in distance education events, our publications, awards, and new initiatives are all presented here! The MDE Community has been busy since last fall! Presentations, honors and publications throughout. Read on for the latest and greatest information on your fellow MDE community members.
Stella Porto leaves MDE director post
September 5th, 2014 is Stella's last day as program director of the MDE. Stella has accepted a position at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) as an eLearning Specialist in IDB's Institute for Economic and Social Development (INDES). Stella comments on her career change: "It is an interesting opportunity and I’m sure that my experience in the MDE will be of great significance to the activities I will develop at IDB. As you might imagine, this job change brings many mixed emotions. The MDE has been at the center of my life for the past 10 years. So, this was definitely a hard decision."
Stella joined UMUC in early 2001, and took on many roles at UMUC, including associate chair and chair of the department of Information and Technology Systems in the Graduate School. In 2007, as she moved to Atlanta, she stepped down from her chair role and continued as the MDE program director. This past June, Stella moved back to DC area with her family, and the new job opportunity became a reality.
Stella's departure from her role as program director is bittersweet for the MDE and UMUC Communities. While we wish her all the best in her new endeavors, her leadership of the program will be missed by all. Stella will continue to teach in the program as an adjunct and will also continue to contribute to MDE's online communities and social media channels.
The Graduate school redesign
The MDE program is part of an ambitious redesign of all programs at The Graduate School (TGS). The current MDE curriculum is already largely based on authentic assessments, and this is being further enhanced. A competency framework was generated for professionals in the field of distance education detailing what MDE graduates will be required to accomplish with mastery, and learning activities and learning demonstrations will be clearly and directly aligned to these competencies. The new and revised curriculum is planned to launch in Fall 2015. TGS will be communicating with all stakeholders at the right time. This has been an intense collaboration involving several people from the program and TGS.
New resources for unisa students
We now have in the MDE Hub an important resource especially for MDE students from Unisa: Unisa students' page. Because their processes of application, registration, and advising are different from other MDE students, this dedicated page is extremely important and resourceful. We invite all those from Unisa to consult this page frequently and use it as an orientation guide.
More recently, a short screencast was done to highlight some of the most important aspects, such as, explaining grading, GPA, and other policies. Unisa students, please take a moment to watch this video:
thriving partnership with unisa
Since summer 2012, Unisa faculty have been enrolling in the MDE Certificate in Technology. As described in the recent article UMUC programme more than a cooperative agreement, "The programme was developed in response to a growing challenge at Unisa to advance excellence, innovation and leadership in ODL teaching and learning and research."
Early in July 2014, we had the pleasure of hosting Geesje Van der Berg, Dean of Curriculum at Unisa in South Africa and Muriel Joffe, the point of contact for the partnership between the MDE and Unisa at the UMUC's Adelphi headquarters. This in-person event reinforces the value and the ties of this important partnership.
From left to right: Stella Porto (Program Director of the MDE), Muriel Joffe (Executive Director of International Programs), Virginia Pilato (Chair of the Department of Education), Aric Krause, (Vice Provost & Dean of TGS), and Geesje Van der Berg (Dean of Curriculum, Unisa )
Academic Program Review completed
Earlier this year, the MDE went through another Academic Program Review (APR). This is a major effort that allows the program to look within and identify achievements, best practices, and challenges. Although the APR process is focused on generating a report for the Board of Regents of the University System of Maryland, it is also a valuable tool for self-assessment and an opportunity for external reviewers to provide constructive feedback about the program.
"The MDE […] has, from inception, bridged the gap between ignorance of distance education and its place in the educational field, to today's understanding of it as a mainstream element of educational delivery, one with its own history, curricula, best practices, methods, technologies, and much more. Crafted carefully from the turn of the century, the MDE has grown and evolved into the exemplary program it is today. Not only is the MDE well designed, it has much support from outside organizations and from the University to continue to grow into the future." (from the final External Reviewer MDE APR 2014 report).
The internship offerings through the MDE have gained significant momentum in the last few months. This program continues to grow with many offerings coming from community colleges and other organizations. These positions are for the most part virtual, and some are paid and others unpaid. These are great opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience, develop relationships with employers, and build their resumes. Completing and internship can make a real difference in getting the job you are looking for! Check out the internship site at MDE internships.
Mde orientation always open
The MDE orientation is now always open, including an open forum for any questions at any time. The orientation includes videos and a wealth of information for students starting in the program. You don't have to join or sign-up to take part in the orientation. Just click and learn at any time: MDE orientation site.
New MDE Peer mentoring model
The MDE Peer-Mentoring Program supports new students (mentees) by connecting them directly to more experienced MDE students or MDE alumni (mentors), who will provide support and advice during a student’s first few and often most taxing semesters.
How does the new MDE peer mentoring program work? Mentors now work as a group. To contact MDE mentors, send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
A major goal of the program is to support new students so they can become successful online adult learners. New MDE students are often facing several challenges, including unfamiliarity with online education or graduate-level work, and balancing work, family, school and other demands. Experienced students and alumni have a wealth of information that can help new students navigate the trials they are facing successfully.
The support given through the peer-mentoring program may include time-management strategies, experience sharing, and how to find UMUC and MDE resources such as the MDE Hub and MDE Orientation.
How can I participate? If you are interested in participating as a mentor or mentee in the MDE Peer-Mentoring Program, please fill out the form here.
New people and new roles...
Betsy Alexander JOINS MDE COMMUNITY
Please join us in welcoming Betsy Alexander to the MDE Community! She will be teaching OMDE 610 with Steve Kerby.
Betsy Alexander, Ed.D. is an instructional designer at UMUC-Stateside. Since 2002, she has worked as a freelance consultant, courseware designer, and content developer. Her professional interests include teaching and learning theory, student engagement, and using new technologies in collaborative learning. Betsy is married with two grown sons and one very lively American Eskimo dog. She enjoys travel, outdoor recreation, films, and musical theatre.
Linda Smith TAKES on MDE Interim Program Chair position
After Stella leaves the program director post, MDE alum and faculty member Linda J. Smith will serve as interim program chair for the MDE, allowing the operations of the program, as well as the TGS redesign project, to continue without any void or discontinuity while a search is conducted for a permanent program chair in the next months.
Linda has worked as an adjunct faculty member for the MDE, teaching several courses, including DETT 607, DEPM 609, and DETT 621. Read more about Linda's background here. The MDE is definitely in good hands with Linda's expertise and experience.
Publications & Presentations
Presentations and publications from the MDE Community can be found in the embedded document below or here.
OLAF ZAWACKI-RICHTER & TERRY ANDERSON PUBLISH ONLINE DISTANCE EDUCATION: TOWARDS A RESEARCH AGENDA
In June 2014, Olaf Zawacki-Richter (MDE faculty) and Terry Anderson (MDE guest speaker) released Online Distance Education: Towards a Research Agenda published by Athabasca University Press. The book is available as a free PDF download from the AU web site here.
A variety of current and former MDE faculty and guest experts contributed to the publication, including: Alan Tait, Sarah Guri-Rosenblit, Greville Rumble, Jane Brindley, Dianne Conrad, and Ormond Simpson. We think you will also recognize a number of other authors from your current course readings! Be sure to take a look and bookmark the page for future reference – or better yet, download the book to your mobile device using the above link.
Interested in reading more about how the book came to be? Fred Saba of Distance-Educator.com has published an exclusive interview with co-author Olaf Zawacki-Richter, which can be found here.
Don Olcott was elected to the European Distance and eLearning Network (EDEN) Network of Academics and Professionals (NAP) Steering Committee in May 2014 for a three year term. Don was inducted in to the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) Hall of Fame in 2014 and was the 2013 recipient of the ICDE Individual Prize of Excellence for his leadership and contributions to global open and distance learning. He will teach DEPM 625 this fall semester in the MDE program.
Jacklyn Thompson was selected for an award in the NUTN (National University Technology Network) 2014 Student Recognition Award competition. "The NUTN Student Recognition Award recognizes students whose use of distance learning has been both exemplary and impactful in providing opportunities for personal or professional advancement." Read more about the NUTN Student Recognition Award here. Jacklyn graduated from the MDE program in 2013 and will serve as TA and writing coach in DEPM 625 and OMDE 670 this fall.
more faculty news
Christine Walti, adjunct faculty member in the MDE program since 2002, teaches OMDE 601 and as of the fall OMDE 608, has moved from Annapolis, MD to live in Appenzell, Switzerland. This move came for family related reasons and for the time being her focus is teaching in the MDE program and consulting in DE and eLearning related topics and projects.
Don Olcott has been working on a number of international consulting projects including Microsoft Worldwide Education (on public and private educational partnerships and on Adaptive Learning Communities), and the African Virtual University (AVU) (helping AVU develop a strategic plan and model to expand its Pan-African capacity building, academic programs, and partnerships)
In September, Paul Blackman will spend six weeks at Acadia University in Nova Scotia as one of the Harrison McCain Fellows for 2014. Paul will be spending time observing and participating in the teaching of French at Acadia in the face to face environment and also with their online school called Acadia online.
Ilene Frank offered an hour-long presentation on OERs for the Hillsborough Community College faculty in-service day in August.
student & alumni news
Kenyetta Robertson completed the MDE program in December 2013 and attended the commencement in May 2014 at the UMUC Adelphi campus. Kenyetta was recently accepted into the internship program at Central Piedmont Community College for the Fall semester, and she continues to further her education by pursuing her Ed.S. in Education Technology at Walden University.
Eric Belt completed the MDE in August 2014 and has taken an internship position at Roane State Community College. Eric is very eager and excited to segue into a new career in distance education.
social media suite & fresh hub
You may have noticed increased activity in the MDE social media suite or the recently updated MDE Hub. These efforts are to encourage more connectivity and networking among the MDE Community, keep you updated to the latest happenings in the MDE, and provide easier access to program resources. Several of these social media channels also offer recent job posts in the DE and eLearning fields. We hope you will join us at any or all of the networks below.
MDE Twitter Feed!
Follow @mdeumuc, retweet @mdeumuc, mention @mdeumuc, and don't forget to add #mdeumuc to your tweet when tweeting something of the interest of the MDE community.