Town Hall: Institutional Strategies & Innovations

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

Please join the Strand Chairs as they bring together “the community” of experts and participants to hold an interactive discussion on the main trends and hot topics that are taking root in this strand.


Doug Geier is the Director of eLearning and Instructional Design at Golden Gate University where he oversees LMS support, instructional design, help desk and proctored testing services. He also leads initiatives with GGU's Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence relating to academic technology, faculty development and pedagogical challenges. He was a 2012 participant in the Online Learning Consortium’s Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning and is an active member of the OLC community. Doug also serves on the Substantive Change peer review committee with the WASC Senior College and University Commission. In previous roles, Doug has held positions in educational software publishing and online learning as a producer, content developer, and instructional designer. GGU is a private, non-profit university located in San Francisco, California that offers undergraduate and graduate programs in business and management, taxation, and law. Many programs are offered both in-person and entirely online.
Dr. Shanta Goswami Varma has over 20 years of experience in National and International Higher education in academic administration. Areas of expertise include: online teaching and learning, program development and implementation, marketing and outreach, faculty development (online learning), regulatory and accreditation requirements, curriculum and instruction, partnership building and recruitment and retention. Her research interests include e-learning, faculty development in online learning, gender roles, cultural disparity, leadership roles in higher education, and women in online learning. Dr. Varma currently serves as the Special Assistant to the Chancellor for Collaborative Partnership and Distance Education Initiatives at Auburn University at Montgomery (AUM). She also holds a concurrent appointment as an Associate Professor in the department of Curriculum, Instruction and Technology in the College of Education. Prior to AUM, she has held both administrative and academic positions at the Center for Distance Learning at Empire State College, University of Texas at Brownsville, and at The University of Houston - Clear Lake (UHCL).
Dr. Sophia Stone is a Senior Consultant with Duke University in Learning Innovation. She leads a range of initiatives to advance teaching excellence, consulting with faculty in programs and schools across the university, including the Global Health Institute, the Duke School of Medicine, Psychology & Neuroscience, and the Duke School of Nursing. She is currently leading a new digital education initiative in partnership with the Duke Graduate School to prepare the next generation of academic innovators, the Bass Digital Education Fellows Program, and teaches a graduate course for PhD students as part of this program: GS762: Digital Pedagogy and Learning Design. She co- leads the Duke Online Learning Collaborative Special Interest Group, and is an active member of Duke AHEAD (Academy for Health Professions Education and Academic Development). Sophia values global collaborations and managed the development of Duke’s first international online course with a partner medical school in Moshi, Tanzania. Prior to joining Learning Innovation, Sophia was a Teaching Associate Professor and co-director of the Graduate Certificate Program in Online Learning at NC State University, College of Education, and a Research Associate with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation, where she managed online professional development programs for educators. Sophia has prior experience in online program management at Duke TIP and in academic librarianship with the NC State Libraries. She holds a B.A. from McGill University, an M.S.L.S. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and an M.Ed and Ed.D from North Carolina State University.
Gary Chinn is Assistant Dean & Director of the Office of Digital Learning at Penn State University. He has served as eLearning Initiative Project Manager at the Leonhard Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering. He previously served as instructional designer for Penn State's Blended Learning Initiative, Baruch College at the City University of New York, and Teachers College at Columbia University. During his time with the eLearning Institute, Gary oversaw the design and development of Penn State's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), titled 'Introduction to Art: Concepts and Techniques.' He is currently pursuing online projects in collaboration with the School of Visual Arts and the School of Music. Gary holds a B.S. in radio-television-film from the University of Texas at Austin and an M.S. in instructional systems technology from Indiana University at Bloomington. His professional association memberships include Educause, the Sloan Consortium, the eLearning Guild, and the American Society for Training and Development.