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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

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April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

How to Achieve Excellence in Online Teaching and Learning on Residential Campuses of Research Universities

Julie Schell (The University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Cassandre Alvarado (The University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Jeffrey Mayo (The University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Holly Custard (The University of Texas at Austin, USA)
Session Information
October 14, 2015 - 12:45pm
Institutional Strategies & Innovations
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Featured Session
Southern Hemisphere II
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 2
Virtual Session

How can major research universities encourage and support excellence in online learning for residential students? In this session, a diverse group of four individuals representing leadership, faculty, and students at a major research university will respond to this question, providing clear and replicable examples of bright spots in online teaching and learning on their campuses.

Extended Abstract

Online learning in higher education confronts a range of criticisms, in particular, that it is of lower quality than brick and mortar classroom experiences. And at research universities, teaching, whether online or face-to-face, continues to have a questionable reputation. The sprawling residential campuses of our research universities still suffer from persistent characterizations as disinterested in teaching and as sites wherein too much dedication to undergraduate pedagogy can sink a career. To support such critique, constituents from all sectors of higher education point to tenure and promotion policies and institutional investments that separate pedagogy and scholarship and place a premium on the latter. Critics elevate the undervaluing of teaching at research universities as a primary reason for STEM pipeline issues. Constituted by faculty and students of the highest-caliber and state-of-the-art infrastructure that supports discovery and dissemination of life-changing innovations, research universities do represent hotbeds of excellence. As online teaching and learning rapidly becomes a mainstay on residential campuses worldwide research universities need to define a roadmap for excellence beyond the laboratory. How can major research universities encourage and support excellence in online learning for residential students? In this session, a diverse group of four individuals representing leadership, faculty, and students at a major research university will respond to this question, providing clear and replicable examples of bright spots in online teaching and learning on their campuses.

Lead Presenter
Julie Schell

Julie Schell is Director of OnRamps and Strategic Initiatives at The University of Texas at Austin’s (UT-Austin) Office of Strategy and Policy where she leads signature, dual-enrollment curricular innovations that extend the reach of the University. She is also a Clinical Assistant Professor at UT-Austin’s top ranked College of Education, where she teaches a new graduate course, Technology and Innovation in Higher Education. With UT, she currently holds an appointment as an associate in the Mazur Group at the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard University, where she generates and tests ideas for scaling innovative teaching methods. She completed a three-year postdoctoral fellowship under Eric Mazur at Harvard University. She has over 15 years of experience in higher education, has written and presented widely on Peer Instruction, and has held positions at the nation’s top research universities including Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Harvard and most recently The University of Texas at Austin.

Dr. Schell is an expert in educational innovation and a recipient of a Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology award in 2013. She was awarded the Dissertation of the Year from the American Educational Research Association, Postsecondary Education Division in 2010. She holds a doctorate in Higher and Postsecondary Education from Teachers College, Columbia University and an M.S. in Counseling and Educational Psychology, with an emphasis in instructional technology, from the University of Nevada, Reno.

Cassandra Giguere

Dr. Cassandre Giguere Alvarado is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Administration at The University of Texas at Austin, and also serves in the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost, directing initiatives in student success and enrollment management.

Dr. Alvarado's teaching, research and professional practice focuses on college readiness and student retention and success. She currently directs Student Success Initiatives for The University of Texas at Austin, focusing on improvements in retention and graduation rates. Under her leadership, UT-Austin has reached record retention and graduation rates. She also directs the PACE (Path to Admission through Co-Enrollment) Program, an innovative co-enrollment program with Austin Community College. She is the College Readiness Special Advisor to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and frequently works with national organizations on issues of readiness and retention. Her current research focuses on understanding college readiness, including the development and testing of readiness assignments designed to introduce students to the content knowledge and cross-disciplinary skills needed for success.

A 20 year veteran of university administration, Dr. Alvarado’s signature program at The University of Texas at Austin was the creation of the First-year Interest Groups (FIGS), a learning community initiative she began in 1998. The initiative focuses on bringing together the many facets of university life in one nexus for each student in an effort to maximize their success. The university now offers a learning community to all incoming first year students. Additionally, Dr. Alvarado led the University’s major Quality Enhancement Plan initiative, providing the blueprint and assessment of the University’s first major curriculum reform in the last 30 years.

Dr. Alvarado holds a bachelor of journalism, master of education and doctor of philosophy degree from The University of Texas at Austin.

Jeff Mayo

Jeff Mayo, Ph.D. As a Senior Program Coordinator in the School of Undergraduate Studies at The University of Texas at Austin, Jeff develops programs to support first-year students during their academic transition to campus. His research interests include the engagement of online learners in and out of formal learning environments. Jeff’s dissertation, "On-campus and online: The lived experiences of students enrolled in the online courses of a major research university," examined the engagement of students in online courses offered by a campus-based university.

Holly Custard As Head of Academics, Holly Custard, Ph.D., collaborates with partnering institutions to design, develop, and evaluate programs and services that support institutional and faculty goals, and student learning outcomes. She is interested in identifying and creating new approaches to teaching and learning that foster contextualized, meaningful, and engaging experiences to guide learners in realizing their personal education and career goals. For the past twenty years, she has researched, taught, and worked in educational media and technology, and online learning in the K-12 and higher education sectors. Holly came to Pearson Online Learning Services from the University of Texas at Austin’s Center for Teaching and Learning where she led the design and development of online resources including MOOCs, hybrid, and online courses in collaboration with faculty and academic units across campus to foster increased educational opportunity and outcomes.