eLearning Team attends ETOM Fall Conference

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The Educational Technology Organization of Michigan Fall Conference brings together faculty, instructional designers, instructional technologists, #edtechies, and administrators from around the state, every year to collaborate and come together around advancing online and hybrid teaching and learning.

This year, GVSU eLearning staff Eric Kunnen, Vince St. Germain, and Hunter Bridwell along with professors Lissa Brunan and Kerry Mohney attended the conference. Kerry Mohney presented at the conference on the topic: “Effective Online Supplementation to Clinical Education and Health Internships”.

This year’s keynote was entitled: “Developing Social Presence in Online Classes” by Karen Swan. Karen is the Stukel Professor of Educational Research and a Research Associate in the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service (COLRS) at the University of Illinois Springfield. For the past 20 years, she has been teaching online, researching online learning, and writing extensively about her experiences. She received the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) award for Outstanding Individual Achievement, National University Technology Network (NUTN) Distinguished Service Award, and the Burks Oakley II Distinguished Online Teaching Award for her work in this area. She is also an OLC Fellow and a member of the International Adult and Continuing Education Hall of Fame.

Some of the highlights from Karen Swan’s talk included the following:

online communication is an excellent medium for social interaction

  • Quality Matters is helpful in the “design” of the course. Whereas,  COI is social constructivist measures “during” the course.
  • Social presence is a mediating variable between teaching and cognitive presence. – “Community of Inquiry”
  • Verbal immediacy behaviors can lesson the psychological distance in online classes.
    • Use ice breakers and initial courses activities to encourage trust
    • Model the use of verbal social presence indicators
    • Encourage students to engage and share their course experiences.
  • Student learning is related to quantity and quality of postings in online discussions.
    • Use discussions as a requirement in grading
    • Use rubrics
    • Require students to respond to other students
    • Stress unique nature of discussions in student orientations
  • Learning occurs socially within communities of practice.
  • Course design can increase social presence. You need a place for students to interact.
    • Include multiple opportunities for discussion
    • Timely feedback in assignments and tests
  • Instructors develop social presence through their interactions with students in a variety of activities.
    • Assessment feedback.
    • Audio feedback.
    • Reference student activities in feedback.
    • Journals
  • The quality and quantity of instructor interactions with students is linked to student learning.
    • Announcements
    • Clear expectations
    • Provide timely and supportive feedback
    • Establish communication expectations as far as instructor response time for email, etc.
  • Instructor social presence and social presence of peers are unique.
    • Instructor social presence related to perceived learning
    • Student social presence is related to student satisfaction
  • Social presence develops over time.
    • Model use and sustain over time throughout the course
  • Students will do what you expect them to do. If you treat them like prisoners they will not perform. Trust your students. Incorporate social elements in a variety of technology mediums from synchronous to asynchronous – from email to announcements to text in a variety of methods – text, audio, photo, videos.

More notes from this session are available on Eric Kunnen’s EdTech with Eric blog.


Additional sessions offered at the conference included the following:

  • New Rules for Accessibility: What You Need to Know
    Ronda Edwards, Michigan Colleges Online and Shane Lovellette, TechSmith
  • Student Success with LMS: A Collaboration Between Faculty and Instructional Technology Support
    Heather Mayernik and Tom Bradley, Macomb Community College
  • Engaging Distance Learning Students from Day One
    Jason Kane, Schoolcraft College
  • Effective Online Supplementation to Clinical Education and Health Internships
    Kerry Mohney, GVSU 
  • Using Google Keep for Note Taking
    Jon Hoerauf, Mid Michigan Community College
  • Do Mandatory Distance Learning Orientations Work?
    Garry Brand, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Putting the Pieces Together- the Professional Development Puzzle
    Stacy Whiddon, Schoolcraft College
  • Using Peer Reviews for Greater Student Success
    Nancy McGee, Macomb Community College
  • Designing for Success: Fostering self-regulated learning skills through online course design
    Bill Knapp, Grand Rapids Community College
  • Round-table Discussion Group
    Margaret Bourcier, Mott Community College


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