OLC Research Summit: Online STEM Education

Workshop Session 1
OLC Session

Brief Abstract

The 2019 OLC Digital Learning Research Summit builds on the 2018’s inaugural Summit’s goal of providing insights into future areas of research.  This year’s Summit brings together leaders in STEM education to discuss research opportunities, current trends and practices, and pathways for building a STEM learning network to promote research and share practices in online STEM education. Online science education, having lagged other online disciplines, is entering a period of significant growth.  New technologies and online strategies make it possible to deliver an astounding array of learning opportunities for all students. We invite anyone with experience or interest in online STEM education to join us as we build the framework for a national survey on online STEM education. 

This event takes place at our OLC Accelerate Conference in Orlando on Wednesday, November 20, 2019, 9:00am - 12:00pm and is included in your OLC Accelerate 2019 conference registration.


Lynette provides leadership for the OLC Research Center for Digital Learning and Leadership. Prior, she was the Director, Learning Enhancement for the Center for Learning Experimentation, Application, and Research at the University of North Texas. Lynette’s experience spans the educational pipeline from K-12 to public universities and community colleges, and in addition to her digital learning and leadership roles, she has served in a number of positions in Academic Affairs, Enrollment Management, and Educational Partnerships. She has worked extensively with public, private, corporate, and philanthropic organizations, was involved in two State of Texas Star-Award winning initiatives, and led the statewide Texas Reverse Transfer Initiative, resulting in more than 7,000 degrees awarded within the first year of the program and policy mandate. Lynette also teaches Quantitative Methods and Research Methods courses for the University of North Texas, and has a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration, an M.S. in Educational Psychology, and a B.A. in Psychology. In her spare time, Lynette practices yoga, reads everything from YA to historical non-fiction, and is involved in her community in Denton, TX.
Over 20 years in adult education and curriculum development. Online learning is my modality and I partner with e-learning developers to implement best practices in instructional design and educational pedagogy for teaching and learning.
Devon A. Cancilla, Ph.D., is the Chief Knowledge Officer with the Online Learning Consortium. Prior to this, Devon was the Vice Provost for Academic Innovation at UMKC. Devon also served as Dean and then Associate Provost for Learning at American Sentinel University, a fully online institution. He was an Associate Professor of Environmental Science and Director of Scientific Technical Services (SciTech) at Western Washington University (WWU) where he led the development of the Integrated Laboratory Network (ILN), an online laboratory initiative funded by the National Science Foundation. Devon has received both the Sloan-C (now OLC) Outstanding Achievement Award for Online Education and an Effective Practice Award for his research into the development and use of online laboratories. He attended the University of Iowa, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and UCLA, where he received his doctorate in Environmental Health Science. Devon’s current research interests relate to the use of analytics in the design and development of online courses. Devon lives in Bellingham, Washington.
Dr. Vanmali has been a science educator for more than 15 years, teaching classes as small as ten students and as large as 500. In all settings, her goal is to help students master content in a meaningful way that enables them to retain and use the information. To that end, she creates and seeks out innovative approaches to teaching that both engage and inspire student learning. Dr. Vanmali has held positions in the School of Life Sciences and the Provost's Office at Arizona State University, where she worked on curriculum, course development and reform, faculty professional development, and building interdisciplinary online science courses. At the University of Texas-Austin, she served as the Executive Director of the Texas Institute for Discovery Education in Science (TIDES), where she worked with faculty and colleagues on faculty development, freshmen research initiatives, curriculum development, and other science education initiatives. Currently, she is the Program Director for Sciences at Grand Canyon University, focused on curriculum building and reform, faculty development, and other science learning-related efforts, including online science learning.
Shannon is the Director of Distance Learning for Carolina Biological Supply Company. She is responsible for all facets of development, product selection and product marketing for all college level science online courses and products. With Master’s degrees in both Biology and Education, Shannon joined Carolina in 2015 with more than 15 years of higher education experience, 10 of which were spent in the online learning community as both an administrator and instructor. Her experience includes curriculum development, instructional design, and compliance and accreditation. She and her team have helped hundreds of colleges and universities adapt their science courses to the online learning environment.

Extended Abstract


9:00am – 9:10am – Co-chairs Welcome: Shannon McGurk, Bina Vanmali, Devon Cancilla

9:10am – 10:00am –  Success Stories: Perspectives in Moving STEM Online
Panel discussion: The “hows and whys” of moving STEM education online.  This panel of faculty, administrators and instructional design professionals will discuss the research and reasons of moving traditional courses and programs to the online modality. 


  • Mary Mawn, Associate Dean and Associate Professor – Science, Mathematics, and Technology, SUNY Empire State College
  • Amy Kahn, Dean of Instruction, Colorado Community Colleges Online    
  • Peggy Moore, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Director of E-Learning
  • Michelle Scanavino, Instructor of Biological Sciences, Moberly Area Community College
  • Devon Cancilla, Online Learning Consortium – Panel Moderator

10:00am – 10:15am – Networking break

10:15am – 10:25am – Setting the stage for a National STEM Survey: The state of online STEM Education in North America

Devon Cancilla, Online Learning Consortium

This session will provide the background related to the development of a national survey to better understand the state of online STEM education.  What are the data gaps? What do we need to understand to better promote, practice and teach science online? What are the current and future trends in online STEM education.

10:25am – 10:50am – A Research-based Approach to Developing a National Survey moving STEM education online 

Jeff Seaman, Babson Survey Research Group

Experts in the field of research design will provide guiding principles on the strategies necessary to build, deploy and analyze a national survey that generates reliable and useful data.

10:50am – 11:00am – Transition to Break out group work: Bina Vanmali, Shannon McGurk

11:00am – 11:40am – Breakouts: Identifying the Data gaps in online STEM education

Participants will help identify data gaps in our understanding of online STEM education and help formulate the design of a national STEM survey.  The goal of the survey is to better understand issues associated with teaching STEM disciplines online. Why have institutions been slow to adopt online science programs?   What support do faculty need? Are there infrastructure issues that slow adoption? Are there discipline specific approaches?  

11:40am – 12:00pm – Sharing of Ideas/Wrap Up and Next Steps