Penn State hosting webinars for National Distance Learning Week

psu national distance learning week 2018

Online learning experts from Penn State will share their best practices during a series of free webinars the University is hosting to mark National Distance Learning Week, Nov. 5-9.

The webinars will address topics in instructional design, faculty development and student affairs for those who work in online higher education. They will be presented by faculty and staff who work with Penn State World Campus, the University’s online campus; the College of Engineering and the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences at University Park; Penn State Behrend; and others.

World Campus is also hosting demonstrations of video technology in online learning. The event is co-sponsored by Whitlock and will be held Thursday, Nov. 8, at the Outreach Building at Penn State’s Innovation Park.

“We are excited to work with our colleagues from across the University to host this year’s National Distance Learning Week,” said Rick Shearer, director of research with Penn State World Campus. “We look forward to sharing our expertise with the hope of improving the ways students learn from a distance.”

National Distance Learning Week is sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association and aimed at advancing the best practices in the digital and distance learning community.

For more than 125 years, Penn State has been offering education at a distance to learners from across Pennsylvania and the United States. In the 1890s, farmers completed correspondence courses through the mail, and over the years, the University’s distance education enterprise evolved to delivering courses through the radio, television, satellite and now the internet.

“Distance learning has long been an important avenue through which we can offer broad access to a Penn State education,” said Jessica Resig, director of the Center for eLearning Initiatives at Penn State Behrend, and one of the experts who will host a webinar. “By exploring recent advances in digital tools and the resulting shifts in pedagogy, we are developing innovative learning experiences to meet the diverse needs of our online learners.”


CTC to recognize National Distance Learning Week

Central Texas College will observe National Distance Learning Week, November 5-8, with a variety of online activities to engage students and potential online users. During the week, the public is invited to log on to the CTC Distance Education webpage,, to learn how distance education can help achieve educational goals, become familiar with the services available to the CTC distant learner and participate in a series of online activities designed educate the general public on the future of learning.

Throughout the week, CTC’s Distance Education and Education Technology department will offer virtual events for students and the public including online daily quizzes and trivia challenges for prizes. Resources regarding distance education and CTC online services such as Blackboard, BioSig-ID, SafeAssign and Blackboard Collaborate will also be available as well as links to various online webinars.

Earlier this year, CTC was ranked among the best online colleges on the Top Colleges List 2018-19 assessed by CTC was rated as the 13th best online college among all two-year and four-year schools in Texas and the eighth best community college in the country. collected data on more than 2,500 accredited colleges and universities from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics and ranked them based on a variety of factors including affordability, student services and the availability of online programs.

In addition, CTC was just ranked 10th among the best online and non-traditional schools for military veterans on the Best for Vets: College 2019 list compiled by Military Times. This past year, CTC was ranked among the best online colleges in the country by and And in the past 10 years, CTC was ranked fifth in the nation among colleges and universities with the most students enrolled in degree-granting online programs.

CTC first began offering credit-granting online-only and distance education courses in 1997 with approximately 500 enrollments. Since then, distance education enrollments have totaled nearly 215,000. Currently, CTC has more than 5,400 online students in Texas and more than 50,000 worldwide.

A handful of online degree-granting programs were initially offered in 2000. Today, CTC offers more than 450 online courses and 55 degree programs which can be completed solely online. CTC distant learners can take advantage of the affordable tuition, frequent class start dates, three-, eight-, 12- and 16-week course schedules and 24/7 technical support.




SCS receives USDA grant for distance learning

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U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson (NC-08) announced this week that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), through its Rural Development mission area, has awarded Stanly County Schools a distance learning grant of $447,280.

“Regardless of where you live, all Americans deserve access to 21st Century opportunities and technology,” said Hudson. “This grant will help bridge the gap between students in Stanly County and critical STEM education and job-training programs.”

“We are simply ecstatic about the great news on receiving this grant. It will help provide a platform to ensure equal access to resources within Stanly and across the world. This will help our teachers and students become part of global education communities, creating even greater access to resources,” added Jeff James, superintendent of Stanly County Schools.

This Rural Development investment will be used to help Stanly County Schools build a distance learning program to enhance educational opportunities at 19 school and two hub sites within Stanly County.

Interactive distance learning technology will be used to provide Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) curricula and STEM-focused professional development courses benefiting 8,338 students and faculty.

As a leader on the Energy and Commerce Committee, Hudson authored part of Congress’s “Principles for Broadband Infrastructure,” which has received national support.


Life Is Complicated: Distance Learning Helps

Three months after a terrorist attack in Afghanistan left Jeremy Haynes a paraplegic, he met with a psychologist from the Department of Veterans Affairs. “He asked me what I wanted to do with my life,” said Mr. Haynes, a retired Army major. “I said I wanted to go back to school. He said, ‘Let’s be realistic. You’re not going to be operating mentally like you did before.’”

On Aug. 5, 2014, a gunman had sprayed bullets from an assault rifle into a military delegation visiting an Afghan military academy. Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene was killed; Mr. Haynes was struck with four bullets and was among nine Americans injured.

Mr. Haynes, now 34, said the psychologist’s assessment of his mental acuity was based on his poor performance on a cognitive test he had taken during his rehabilitation. “I thought to myself, `That number doesn’t define who I am,’” he said. “`I’m going to show you.’”

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Today, he is studying for his doctorate in business administration at Walden University, which specializes in online education. “I knew I didn’t want to go back to school in the traditional sense,” said Mr. Haynes, who uses a wheelchair. “I didn’t want to be a distraction in the classroom. I didn’t want people to have to hold the door open for me, or worry about parking.”

He had prior experience with distance learning. Although Mr. Haynes, a native of Albany, Ga. who now lives in Fort Belvoir, Va., had pursued his bachelor’s degree in a traditional classroom-based program — at Fort Valley State University in Georgia — he had later earned his master’s in business administration online from Florida Institute of Technology in 2013, while in the Army. He also earned a certification in program management while deployed as a member of the 82nd Airborne Division.

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“I could log on any time, in the middle of Iraq,” he said. For the convenience, the flexibility — and now because, “it puts a vale over my disability,” Mr. Haynes says he prefers taking classes through the screen of his laptop.

Of course, the idea of adults taking classes remotely is not new. “When I started, they called them ‘correspondence courses,’” said George Haber, an adjunct professor at Vaughn College of Aeronautics and Technology in Queens. “And that’s what it really was. Students would send in their work handwritten, you would write them back.”

In the 1990s, he recalls, the first forms of online classes emerged, although the systems were still slow. Today, such popular online platforms such as Blackboard or Moodle allow for much improved discourse. “In the true online class there’s a lot of interactivity,” said Mr. Haber, who teaches classes in technical writing and communications.


STHCS gets $265,000 grant for distance learning tech

Southern Tier Health Care System will receive more than a quarter million dollars in a second round of federal funding for distance-learning technology.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program tapped STHCS for the $265,179 grant.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to receive this second round of federal funding,” Donna Kahm, STHCS president and CEO, said Friday after learning of the grant. “Distance is one of the biggest barriers to health care and health education for professionals in this vast, rural coverage area.”

Kahm said with each additional satellite site STHCS reduces distance in providing services, “allowing for trainees from a broad spectrum of health-care disciplines to access information vital to serving the residents of our counties, enhancing the quality of rural health care and advancing their own careers.”

Funding will support the purchase, installation and technical services of distance-learning equipment and software at three additional satellite training sites across STHCS’ coverage area of Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua counties. A key principle behind the grant is building capacity to combat the opioid epidemic.

The three additional sites are:

• Cattaraugus Indian Reservation Volunteer Fire Department in Irving.

• West Valley Volunteer Hose Co. in West Valley.

• Jones Memorial Hospital in Wellsville.

It also will allow the installation of additional video-recording equipment at STHCS’ main Training Center in Olean.

The grant covers state-of-the-art videoconferencing equipment and software allowing instructors and trainees to virtually connect in multiple locations seamlessly.

An initial round of funding totaling $132,899 was awarded in 2017. It covered equipment installations and support at the following end-user sites in the three counties: