Access & Innovation, Spring 2012

Access &
A Publication of the Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
“Through distance learning, we bring
experts to students and build a world
community of learners studying
important subjects in their own time
and in their own villages and cities.”
Spring 2012
— Richard Hezel
Access &
3 Message From the Director
3 Meet Lujean Baab: Expansion for Our Future
4 E mpowering Students and Faculty
Through Interactive Learning Opportunities
6 Shaping a Global Community of Leaders
7 Enriching the Hokie Spa Experience
8 ‘Now is the Time for VTOnline‘
2 The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
Message From the Director
In 1998, Virginia Tech responded to the need for extending its education
beyond the confines of the classroom and as a strategic initiative, the
Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning (IDDL) was created.
Thirteen years later, distance learning at Virginia Tech has surpassed the
early adoption stage, and continues to evolve to meet the academic
needs of a wide spectrum of students who were once classified as
nontraditional but are now becoming the norm.
Today our faculty create courses that provide high quality
teaching and learning at a distance.
Classes are designed with a foundation in sound pedagogy that push the
envelope of what is possible. Research is being conducted in order
to contribute to innovation in the field of distance learning as well as
the course disciplines. Perhaps most important of all, the distance learning
community knowledge at Virginia Tech
is growing due to the desire for
faculty to learn and share alongside
one another.
I hope that you join with us in
celebrating the distance learning
efforts of our faculty and agree
with our message that
‘Now is the Time for VTOnline.’
Meet Lujean Baab:
Expansion for
Our Future
Lujean Baab has been appointed assistant director of design,
development, and support for IDDL. In this role, she will collaborate
with academic departments and programs offering distance degree and
certificate programs, and with other university-wide departments and
organizations to establish course quality improvement initiatives.
Looking Ahead
“Working with IDDL’s instructional design, development, and support team
at Virginia Tech and living in the Blacksburg area allows me to do what I
love best both personally and professionally,” notes Baab. “I look forward
to working with the faculty as we expand the high-quality online course
and program offerings.”
Baab has served in a faculty role within the distance learning field for nearly
15 years, having developed and managed online learning programs at
both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Her areas of research include
factors affecting the online student’s sense of classroom and integration of
group project-based learning in online courses. Most recently, Baab served
as assistant professor of instructional technology at DeSales University in
Center Valley, Pa., where she provided strategic leadership and operational
management as director of the master of education programs.
To partner with Lujean and the design, development, and support unit,
contact her at: [email protected]
Visit VT eLearning Faculty on Facebook and Twitter
Peter Macedo
The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning 3
Empowering Students and Faculty Through
Interactive Learning
Virginia Tech Instructor Matthew Komelski is no stranger to
IDDL’s professional development opportunities.
Branching Out
Komelski’s desire to seek out innovative forms of pedagogy led him to
attend an IDDL-sponsored brown bag lunch series designed to encourage
discussion of the best practices and strategies used to foster a successful
online environment for eLearning faculty. Through the brown bag series,
Komelski, an instructor in the Department of Human Development,
discovered IDDL’s master online instructor certificate program and
immediately enrolled to become adept at designing and facilitating
courses online. “I wanted to branch out in new and innovative ways to
ensure that my place in the workforce would remain dynamic.”
Master Online Instructor Certificate Program
Ico Bukvic, left, and Matthew Komelski are creating a special
study in integrative health practices designed to engage
and support students’ health and well-being.
4 The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
The master online instructor certificate program brings together faculty of
different disciplines, tenure, and interests. “The participants are interested
in expanding the limits to whom they can reach with their knowledge
since distance education knows no bounds,” cites Komelski. The frequent
brainstorming sessions provide participants the chance to receive advice
and critiques of faculty members with experience in facilitating an online
course. The certificate program also emphasizes the benefit of integrating
new tools and teaching strategies into online courses to promote effective
learning among students in the online environment.
Komelski incorporates numerous tools and teaching strategies from the
certificate course to engage his students in the traditional classroom as
well. This mixed teaching style allows Komelski to optimize his classroom
lecture time, “I use Scholar’s [online] testing platform to offer tests and
quizzes in my face-to-face classes to save me time, labor, and paper
allowing me to focus more on my students.”
By attending IDDL’s professional development workshops and teaching
several online courses, Komelski now serves as a distance learning
resource to colleagues and teaching assistants in the Department of
Human Development. “Thanks to the knowledge and teaching strategies
I have acquired through the certificate program and the brown bag lunch
series, I feel confident mentoring our new teaching assistants on how to
become effective teachers in online environments.”
From Classroom to Online Course
In addition to teaching five courses, Komelski and Ico Bukvic, assistant
professor in the Department of Music, are developing an online special
study to teach healthy lifestyle practices to students. Bukvic, who also serves
as the co-creator of the online interface and lead software programmer,
received funding through IDDL’s research fellowship to help with the initial
development of the course prototype.
The online special study implements a custom interface that can allow
the delivery and assessment of a wide range of programming, such as
“I wanted to branch out in new and
innovative ways to ensure that my place
in the workforce would remain dynamic.”
—Matthew Komelski
meditation, yoga, and Tai Chi. This is a highly innovative endeavor; among
the first of its kind due to the interactive components.
This special study in integrative health practices is designed to engage
and support students’ health, well-being, and resilience across the lifespan
by increasing their knowledge and understanding of mindfulness and its
effect on relationships, exercise, and healthy dietary practices. Currently,
the special study is being offered in a face-to-face environment, but based
on students’ high ratings and positive feedback, Komelski was eager to
make the course more accessible to students unable to attend classes on
the Virginia Tech campus. “The feedback on the traditional course has been
outstanding; over the past two semesters students have evaluated the
course with a 3.9 [out of 4.0] rating.”
“This flexible structure will give students the chance to choose how much
time they devote to each activity [yoga, meditation, or Tai chi]; therefore,
continuing to engage students in the practice of health, well-being, and
resilience,” explains Komelski. “The course is expected to launch with great
success during the 2013 summer sessions.”
—Amy Shaffron
Learn more about this fellowship
The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning 5
Shaping a Global
Community of Leaders
While Virginia Tech’s main campus is located in the small town of
Blacksburg, the university’s impact can be felt worldwide.
Egyptian faculty delegates are engaging with Virginia Tech
staff and faculty completing the six-month Education Staff
Capacity Enrichment Program.
As evidence of the university’s global impact, seven distinguished
professors from various universities in Egypt are at the Blacksburg
campus completing the Education Staff Capacity Enrichment Program
(ESCEP), which is funded by the United States Agency for International
Development (USAID).
design and technology and director of the Center for Instructional
Technology Solutions in Industry and Education, who is overseeing
their stay in Blacksburg.
An Immersive Experience
During their six-month course, the participants will work with Virginia Tech
professors, become acquainted with various teaching methods, and
share perceptions of their learning experience. In addition, they
will attend conferences and workshops held by Virginia Tech’s IDDL,
Faculty Development Institute, and the University Organization and
Professional Development.
The professors hope to gain new teaching practices to implement in their
home country and disseminate the information to students and other
faculty. “I have learned many skills during my time at Virginia Tech and will
transfer them to my home institution when I return to Egypt,” notes Zakaria
Sorial, assistant professor in industrial technology at Egypt’s University
of Mansoura.
Virginia Tech liaisons include Randa Abdelmagid, project coordinator
for the delegation’s visit, and John Burton, professor for instructional
6 The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning
“The program is designed to provide the visiting faculty with a
comprehensive faculty development program, immerse them in Virginia
Tech’s community and education system, and to expose the group to the
larger U.S. educational system,” says Abdelmagid.
During their visit, participants in the program will experience the United
States culture outside the classroom. They will take trips to Richmond
and Washington, D.C., tour museums, and sightsee to experience the U.S.
culture beyond the classroom.
As for their work inside the classroom, the participants are routinely
matched up with Virginia Tech faculty members who share their areas
of expertise. “The main benefit is learning how another institution does
things and discussing among themselves what they have seen, what
would work in Egypt, and how things compare,” cites Burton.
—Charlie Feaster
Enriching the Hokie Spa Experience
By definition, Hokie Spa is “a tool for students, faculty, and staff to
view academic, financial, and other pertinent information about their
relationship with Virginia Tech.”
The definition further states that “students can also find grades for
previous semesters, class schedules, financial aid reports, and much more.”
Championing the Cause
It is the broader ‘much more’ category that Barry Simmons, director of
University Scholarships and Financial Aid, is eager to illuminate for
students and parents. Simmons has long championed the value and
benefit of narrated tutorials to illustrate the range of resources and
services offered by Hokie Spa.
Team Takes Shape
During the fall 2011 semester, a Hokie Spa planning team was formed,
uniting several units across campus that feed content to Hokie Spa,
including University Bursar, University Studies/University Academic
Advising Center, and University Scholarships and Financial Aid.
An IDDL team facilitated the initial meetings and developed a process
for the creation and recording of the content for narrated video tutorials.
Moving Forward
“The goal of this project is to develop resources to help students and
parents understand the functionality available to them in Hokie Spa,”
says project manager Noah Schoenholtz, a graduate assistant in University
Scholarships and Financial Aid.
IDDL supported this initiative by gathering baseline data from both
students and parents during a focus group session held at Family Day
2011. The data revealed that video tutorials explaining Hokie Spa and
its uses would be beneficial to all users of the system.
Team members worked together to prioritize the most important topics,
starting with an ‘Introduction to Hokie Spa’ for students to debut during
the 2012 freshman orientation. To create greater authenticity, Virginia Tech
students Josh Thompson and Maggie Jaronski will serve as the narrators.
The team has plans to build an online library of video tutorials that
students and parents can access from the Virginia Tech website and
within Hokie Spa.
Noah Schoenholtz, near, and Josh Thompson, in the recording
studio for the Hokie Spa tutorial.
—Jenise Jacques
The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning 7
‘Now is the Time for VTOnline’
Bus Campaign Hits the Open Road
IDDL recently rolled out the largest element of its most comprehensive awareness campaign
with the message, “Now is the Time for VTOnline” in the form of a complete bus wrap on the
newest member of the Blacksburg Transit hybrid fleet.
“This three-year campaign aspires to effectively measure its reach through the use of quick
response (QR) codes, dynamic content, and ties to social media, including the Virginia Tech Online
Facebook page,” noted Peter Macedo, director of IDDL at the bus wrap unveiling
ceremony. This is the first bus wrap in the Blacksburg
Transit fleet to incorporate QR codes as
part of its design.
Access & Innovation
Spring 2012
Volume III, Number II
Peter Macedo
Tracey Allen
Editor and Lead Writer
Jenise Jacques
Graphic Designer
Peter Means
Editorial Board
Charlie Feaster
Amy Shaffron
Tammie Smith
Angie Starr
Daron Williams
Cover quote provided by Richard Hezel, president
and CEO of Hezel Associates and board member
of United States Distance Learning Association.
Access & Innovation is published two times a year
(fall and spring). Reader comments and requests to
reproduce any material in the newsletter should be
directed to [email protected] Information on
IDDL is available at
Virginia Tech does not discriminate against
employees, students, or applicants for admission or
employment on the basis of race, gender, disability,
age, veteran status, national origin, religion, sexual
orientation, or political affiliation. Anyone having
questions concerning discrimination should
contact the Office for Equity and Access.
Virginia Tech Online
© 2012 Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Photography provided by University Relations
Printed by Virginia Tech Printing Services
8 The Institute for Distance and Distributed Learning