Town Hall: Professional Development and Support

Concurrent Session 1
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.


I have been intrigued by distance learning since 2003 and it appeals to my sense of creativity. I am an alumna of the inaugural class of the Institute of Emerging Leaders in Online Learning (IELOL), interested in OER, pedagogy and assessment.
Dr. Melisa Ziegler attended Gonzaga University to complete her Bachelor's in Business Administration, with concentrations in Human Resources, Entrepreneurial Leadership, and Law and Public Policy. She worked in executive recruiting for a short time before starting her professional career in higher education at Seattle University. Melisa worked for SU for three years in Career Services while at the same time earning her Master of Arts in Adult Education and Training. Feeling called to continue her studies and preparing for a long-term career in higher education, Melisa left SU to attend Penn State University full-time in the Adult Education and Educational Psychology programs. Dr. Ziegler is currently the Coordinator of Organizational Learning and an Adjunct Professor in Psychology at Tacoma Community College, responsible for staff and faculty professional development and organizational learning projects.
A popular speaker and facilitator, Dr. Kelvin Thompson regularly addresses groups throughout the US on topics related to online/blended learning and educational technology while he serves as the Executive Director of the University of Central Florida's (UCF) Center for Distributed Learning ( with a faculty appointment as a graduate faculty scholar in UCF's College of Education & Human Performance. Dr. Thompson has collaborated on the design of hundreds of online and blended courses over the past twenty years and is active in the online education community. Kelvin developed the BlendKit Course open courseware ( as part of UCF's Blended Learning Toolkit, and he also co-hosts TOPcast: The Teaching Online Podcast available on iTunes and at His personal research interests center around how interaction affects learner engagement, and information on his Online Course Criticism qualitative evaluation model for facilitating the scholarship of teaching and learning in online and blended environments is available online ( Kelvin Thompson holds an EdD in curriculum and instruction and an MA in instructional systems technology from UCF and a Bachelor of Music Education degree from The Florida State University. Curriculum vitae is available online at
Dr. Ann H. Taylor has worked in the field of distance education since 1991, focusing on learning design and faculty development. As the Assistant Dean for Distance Learning and Director of the John A. Dutton e-Education Institute at Penn State University, Ann is responsible for guiding the College of Earth and Mineral Science's strategic vision and planning for online learning. She works with faculty, administrators, stakeholders, and Institute staff to plan and implement online programs that are tailored to the needs of adult professionals worldwide. She serves on University committees focused on strategic planning, policies, and procedures related to the Penn State's distance learning initiatives and has been an active member of the University Faculty Senate since 2007, where she currently serves as its elected Secretary. Ann regularly works with University colleagues to create resources for faculty who teach online and face-to-face, and she shares her work as a frequent public speaker and author.

Extended Abstract