Insights from the Field: The Fun in Course Redesign


Dr. Jill Buban, Sr. Director Research & Innovation, Online Learning Consortium

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended and digital learning.  This week, Dr. Laurie Hillstock, instructor for the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate, joins us to discuss the value of networking, enjoyable course design, and a variety of other topics. 

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC?
Why not OLC?  Are you kidding me?!  With a true focus on quality at its core, OLC is the leading professional organization in online learning.  The faculty and staff are exceptionally kind, positive and supportive.  As an organization, OLC fosters creativity, forward thinking, balance, compassion and teamwork.  This is truly a dynamic organization and one that I strongly encourage others to support.

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate program?
Participants should know that:

  • The program Is designed for seasoned professionals who want to take their course(s) to a new level.
  • They should be prepared to have loads of fun because evaluating and redesigning online courses can make teaching the course easier and more enjoyable.  In this program, we work together to fine tune your existing course(s) and help you take them to the next level.
  • Everyone in the course is a seasoned faculty member.  So, peer feedback is exceptionally important in this course.  

OLC: Define innovation.
Transformation (or change) with a defined purpose.

OLC: What are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?
There are many ways that professionals can stay current as well as continue to grow in the field. I recommend the following three ways:

  • Take Risks and Truly Network.  Attend conferences (OLC has two GREAT ones), webinars and even “boot camps”.  Use these events as opportunities to learn, ask questions and make connections with others.  Afterward, follow up with those that share your professional interests.  Schedule a call or campus visit with your colleagues to learn more from them and they from you.  You may even decide to jointly pursue a research opportunity.
  • Strategically Subscribe.  There is a great deal of information available electronically.  As much as we would like to able to absorb it all, we have to remember that we are human.  Being selective and strategic is really important.  Take a few minutes to identify the topics you want to learn more about. Then, through your network and research, identify the organizations posting that key information and subscribe.  Read (or listen to) the information you subscribe to and when the opportunity presents itself, apply it.  Finally, do not be afraid to unsubscribe as needed.
  • Become an Active Member.  Many people join organizations, however, staying current occurs when you become active within the organization.  Volunteer to serve on committees, assist at events, facilitate workshops, or even present on behalf of the organization.

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?

Recently, I’ve read Leading the e-Learning Transformation of Higher Education: Meeting the challenges of technology and distance education and  What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How successful people become even more successful.

OLC: Laurie, how can our community connect with you?

Benke, M., Chaloux, B., Miller, G., Ragan, L.C., Schroeder, R., Smutz, W., & Swan, K. (2014). Leading the e-Learning Transformation of Higher Education: Meeting the challenges of technology and distance education. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing.
Goldsmith, M. & Reiter, M (2007). What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How successful people become even more successful. New York, New York: Hachette Book Group.

About Dr. Laurie Hillstock

Dr. Laurie G. Hillstock has been a faculty member and administrator in higher education for over 15 years. Most of her experiences have been in the distance learning arena, focusing on strategic planning (i.e., organizational structure, policy, accreditation, and funding models), technology research and integration, faculty and curriculum development, marketing and student success. Dr. Hillstock currently serves as a Senior Program Manager for the Personalized Learning Consortium of APLU. Also, she is a faculty member of the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL), a program sponsored jointly between Penn State and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) where she is actively involved as a content developer, workshop facilitator and mentor. More specifically, she is the developer and facilitator for the Leadership in Online Learning Mastery Series and the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate program. She is also a mentor for the Online Teaching Certificate program. Additionally, she is a member of the OLC Effective Practice Awards Selection Committee. Dr. Hillstock’s research interests include distance learning, faculty development and student success. She serves as a reviewer for the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory & Practice as well as a reviewer for the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. Her most recent article, Characteristics of Retained Distance Learning Students in Non-Proximal Distance Learning Programs, is now available within the Journal of College Student Retention: Research, Theory, and Practice 15(4). Dr. Hillstock holds a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, an M.A. in Human Resource Development from Clemson University and a B.A. in English from Converse College. Laurie grew up in Andalusia, AL and is the last of ten, yes ten, children.

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