OLC Announces Inaugural Class of ‘Emerging Scholars’ for the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership

New program provides current and recently graduated doctoral students a unique opportunity for hands-on research and networking within the digital learning field.

NEWBURYPORT, Mass. (Feb. 13, 2018) — The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) today announced the inaugural class of Emerging Scholars who have been selected to join the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership. The Emerging Scholars program provides current and recently graduated doctoral students the opportunity to contribute to research projects in the OLC Research Center, collaborate with institutions and organizations around the world on research projects and network with peers and mentors in the digital learning field.
“Emerging Scholars is a unique program in the digital learning arena,” said Kathleen Ives, D.M., Online Learning Consortium. “It complements our other graduate student initiative, which provides the opportunity for graduates students to present at OLC conferences. These two programs offer the OLC community the chance to engage with the next generation of digital learning researchers and practitioners, and help them advance their careers.”

The call for Emerging Scholars, which took place last fall, generated applications from around the world. After a rigorous review process, the following four scholars were selected for a two-year term:

  • Elaine Beirne, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland
  • Katherine McAlvage, Marylhurst University, Oregon
  • Mary Rice, University of New Mexico, New Mexico
  • Matthew Romanoski, University of Arizona, Arizona

“These graduate students bring unique professional perspectives and research interests from varied institutions, and we are thrilled to welcome them as Emerging Scholars,” said Jill Buban, Ph.D., senior director, research and innovation, Online Learning Consortium, who instituted the Emerging Scholars program at OLC. “It’s also exciting to launch a program like Emerging Scholars – perhaps the first of its kind in the digital learning space to provide doctoral students an opportunity for hands-on research and networking within the field.”

Meet the OLC Emerging Scholars

Elaine Beirne is a Ph.D. candidate at Dublin City University in Ireland. Her research interests include educational psychology, online learning, second language acquisition, massive open online courses (MOOCs) and computer-assisted language learning. Specifically, her thesis, which is funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, is focused on exploring the antecedents of learner emotions during an Irish language MOOC. The study aims to inform the development of online language learning environments that foster learning enhancing emotions. Beirne has presented her work at conferences such as EuroCALL and the World Conference for Digital Learning.

Katherine McAlvage
As the Instructional Designer in the Center for Learning and Technology (CLT) at Marylhurst University, McAlvage’s primary responsibility is to support effective teaching and learning across the institution. She assists faculty and departments with course design and redesign, curriculum planning, assessment, and accreditation review; she helps program directors to plan for and build new programs; and she assists with the campus-wide assessment initiative for undergraduate education. She has developed and now facilitates a series of trainings and workshops on andragogy across all modalities, on Canvas, and on other teaching tools, and she coordinates the university’s Online Teaching Innovations Cohort, which is an advanced professional development opportunity for online and hybrid course faculty. McAlvage is also the main administrator for Canvas and a number of other academic technology systems. Her current research interests are in high impact practices for adult learners in the online and hybrid environments, best practices for the simultaneous course modality, accessible course design, and undergraduate assessment tools. McAlvage holds an M.A. (2012) and Ph.D. (2017) in English from the University of Oregon with specializations in British Romanticism, embodiment theory, and pedagogy. She has taught writing courses, literature courses, and interdisciplinary inquiry courses for the past eight years, and she co-edited a composition casebook called Minding the Body: A Casebook for Writers (University of Oregon, 2015). To continue to practice the craft of teaching and to share her love of literature and theory with students, she teaches on-ground and online courses for Portland State University and Concordia University.

Mary F. Rice is an Assistant Professor of Literacy at the University of New Mexico. Previously, she worked as a graduate research assistant and a research associate at the Center on Online Learning and Students with Disabilities at the University of Kansas. Rice also engages in research projects with colleagues through the Michigan Virtual Learning Institute. Her current research focuses on supporting K-12 teachers' curriculum making in fully online and blended learning settings. She is also interested in assessment and policy development that supports the viability and vitality of online learning and digital literacies for all students.

Matt Romanoski is a Senior Instructional Designer in the Office of Digital Learning at the University of Arizona. He currently oversees UA Online’s General Education Academy and provides support for online courses in several academic areas. Romanoski is working towards an Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation through Arizona State University, which he is scheduled to complete in the Spring of 2020. He earned his Master’s Degree in Educational Technology from Northern Arizona University and his Bachelor of Education Degree in History from the University of Arizona. Prior to his current role, Romanoski served as an Instructional Designer in the UA’s College of Nursing and as an Outreach Program Coordinator in the UA’s College of Education.

About Online Learning Consortium

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of higher education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including, best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit http://onlinelearningconsortium.org for more information.