The Office of Distance Education West Chester University | Spring 2017

In This Issue

  • Faculty Focus
  • What's New in the Office of Distance Education
  • Upcoming Events and Training Opportunities
  • Online Program Highlights
  • Continuing to Grow
  • The Meaning of "Quality" in an Online Course
  • Technology Focus
  • Join Our Online Community!
  • Support Hours

Faculty Focus

Shannon Mrkich

In the Fall of 2014, I mentioned to a colleague that I was preparing, for the first time, to teach two sections of writing 100% online. He responded, “Oh Shannon, you love the classroom so much, you’re going to miss interacting with your students.” My colleague’s reaction was, I think, not an uncommon one, but the idea that online teaching and rich student-teacher interaction are mutually exclusive couldn’t be further from the truth.

I design all my courses to harness the power of engagement. Writing is a personal and invested process, which makes teaching online a little extra challenging at times. However, I have found a balance between continual engagement and a consistent and straightforward course design that keeps students writing and coming back to see what’s next.

One way I engage my students in my online classes is by letting them get to know me. Each week, they hear my voice and often see my face; they know that I am actively involved in the class. For example, I prepare weekly check-ins and content videos using a variety of interactive applications like Adobe Spark, Powtoon, Prezi, and GoAnimate. For formative feedback, I give audio/visual screen capture comments through Tech Smith’s Jing. Students have told me that they like the variety of the content videos and that they feel like we are in a one-on-one conference when watching personalized feedback.

My online classes are also engaging because I get to know my students, and they get to know one another. I hold frequent synchronous chat sessions and online office hours and quickly turn around e-mails. I also expect student will engage in intra-class “participation.” For each module, students can “participate” by choosing from a variety of topical mini-tasks for extra practice. One of my favorite tools is H5P.org, which allows me to create and embed visually rich interactive quizzes and games. I also encourage peer-to-peer participation through optional topic-specific discussion boards where students direct the content. Students often say that they like knowing they can work through extra practice on key concepts and get feedback from peers

For me, one of the most exciting parts of teaching online is realizing how engagement really is at the heart of good teaching. However, engagement in any class—whether it’s face-to-face or online—is not something that comes automatically. Luckily, with some thought, some planning, and the help of some fantastic technological tools, great teaching in an online class is a reality.

What's New in the Office of Distance Education?

Meet Our New Online Support Specialist

Lauren Campbell

Lauren holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies, with a minor in Web Technology, from West Chester University of Pennsylvania. She was able to learn about Web Design and Social Media through her undergraduate coursework. Prior to working here in the Office of Distance Education, Lauren interned for a Fitness and Nutrition company where she helped manage their online community through social media. Lauren is excited to return to the WCU Community as an Online Support Specialist. She aims to use her experience with social media to foster an active online community. Lauren can be contacted at lcampbell@wcupa.edu or 610-436-3561.

WCU is Now a Participant in SARA!

On December 7th, 2016, West Chester University was approved to participate in the State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement (SARA). SARA is an agreement among member states, districts, and territories which establishes a uniform set of guidelines and regulations with the intention of making it easier for students to take online courses offered by out-of-state institutions. Participating in SARA allows West Chester University to offer online programs to out-of-state students that live in any of the 48 member states and districts. The map below shows WCU's current State Authorization status. All of the green states are members of SARA.

If you have any questions about State Authorization, contact:

Upcoming Events and Training Opportunities

Online/Blended Faculty Development Program

The Online/Blended Faculty Development Program is offered 100% online and provides best practices and technology recommendations for teaching a distance education course. This program is facilitated by an instructional designer and an experienced online faculty mentor. The program is offered 5 times a year, and certifies the CAPC training requirement!

The next session runs from March 20th to April 7th.

NEW! Un-Seminar Luncheons

Starting this semester, we will be hosting a monthly gathering for distance educators to share and learn together. Join us for one of our Un-Seminar Luncheons. You bring the questions, we bring the food, and together we learn! RSVP and submit your questions or discussion topics to pbrander@wcupa.edu. Deadline to RSVP for the February session is Wednesday, February 15th.

  • Tuesday, February 21st, 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • Wednesday, March 22nd, 12pm-1pm
  • Thursday, April 20th, 12:30pm-1:30pm
  • Tuesday, May 23rd, 12pm-1pm

Self-Paced Technology Training

Each month you can participate in a 100% online self-paced workshop that guides you towards becoming an expert user of a different technology tool. These workshops are facilitated by an instructional designer. Our Spring 2017 offerings include:

  • February 1 to 28: Adobe Connect
  • March 1 to 31: D2L Discussion Boards
  • April 1 to 30: Online and Blended Learning with the iPad

Friday Webinars

Distance Education Webinars are offered 100% online, and are held on Friday from 12pm to 12:30pm. All webinars can be accessed here. Be sure to bookmark the link!

Below, is a list of the webinars we are offering in February. Check our Faculty Resources Page for information about Friday Webinars that will be offered in the coming months.

  • February 17th: Interactive Elements in Online Courses
  • February 24th: Strategies for Engaging Synchronous Sessions

Be sure to visit our website for more information about upcoming events!

Online Program Highlights

Online Master's in Early Childhood Education Recognized by BestColleges.com

In a ranking released by BestColleges.com, West Chester University's Online Master's of Early Childhood Education Program ranked #6 in the United States! BestColleges.com states that the ranking was "based on the courses schools offer, available specializations, student outcomes, career support services, and other criteria used to determine academic excellence." You can find the complete ranking here.

Continuing to Grow

This Spring 2017, West Chester University is offering:

189 Online Courses (3960 Student Seats)

64 Blended Courses (2010 Student Seats)

3 ITV Courses (23 Student Seats)

That's a total of 256 courses and 6084 Student Seats!

Look at How We Have Grown!

Technology Focus

Microsoft Office Mix

Microsoft Office Mix is a free add-in for PowerPoint which allows users to record presentations and incorporate interactive features. As of now, only PC users who have Office 2013 or later installed on their device can record presentations, however playback is compatible with any device.

Watch the video below for a getting-started tutorial. The Office Mix add-in can be installed for free from mix.office.com.

Join Our Online Community!


Online Support Hours

The Office of Distance Education offers technical support to online faculty and students during the following hours:

Monday-Thursday: 8am-8pm

Friday: 8am-4:30pm

Sunday: 12pm-8pm

Phone: 610-436-3373

Email: distanceed@wcupa.edu

Contact Us

Business and Public Management Center Room 542 *

50 Sharpless St.

West Chester, PA 19383

Phone: 610-436-2948

E-mail: distanceed@wcupa.edu

*Temporary location due to Wayne Hall renovations.


Created with images by Hans - "crocus flower spring" • West Chester University - "Anderson Hall" • yourbestdigs - "group of spiral notebook planners" • edenpictures - "Eden's Alphabet" • joffi - "leaf tree green" • LoboStudioHamburg - "twitter facebook together" • Karen_O'D - "Time...."