Creating and Maintaining a Quality Online Learning Environment

Concurrent Session 2
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

This session will focus on the efforts to create and maintain a quality online learning environment in response to institution wide changes and the current needs of higher education. Shelley Kurland will share lessons learned through the process of creating and maintaining quality centralized distance education offerings through strategic planning, collaboration, leadership growth and fostering relationships.


Shelley Kurland is the Dean of Virtual Campus at the County College of Morris in Randolph, New Jersey. She has been an educator since 1999 and involved in distance education since 2003. Shelley’s areas of expertise and interests are in distance education, active learning, faculty learning, and the use of digital technologies with pedagogical considerations. She uses the question, 'Is this the best for the student?' as the compass for her professional work. Shelley's scholarly activities involve active contributions through professional presentations in the areas of teaching and learning in all delivery methods. As part of her action research dissertation study, Rethinking Teaching in STEM Education in a Community College: Role of Instructional Consultation and Digital Technologies, Shelley discussed educators’ tendency to introduce or to implement technology without aligning it to a theoretical framework, which may lead to the 'using technology for the sake of using technology mindset'. She developed and introduced the Learning-Teaching-Technology Cycle. Each of the elements – learning, teaching, and technology – is critical, connected, and inform each other as an educator designs and implements an activity and/or lesson. Shelley holds a B.S. in Exercise Science and Sports Studies from Rutgers University, a Master of Arts in Teaching with a concentration in Teacher of the Handicapped and a Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Teacher Education/Teacher Development. Both postgraduate degrees are obtained from Montclair State University. She also serves as a member of the Instructional Technology Council (ITC) Advocacy Committee and a member of the New Jersey Community College Consortium’s Distance Education Affinity Group. She is part of OLC's IELOL Class of 2018. Shelley was also the recipient of NJEDge Distinguished Service Award for Educational Technology in 2018.

Extended Abstract

This session will reflect on the efforts to build a Virtual Campus in the midst of institution-wide changes, as well as suggested processes for institutionalizing these changes. Shelley Kurland will share the lessons learned from the process of “centralizing” distance education efforts and offerings through strategic planning, collaboration, leadership growth and fostering relationships. She will also discuss the institutional response to these changes and the importance of strategic planning and institutional leadership to ensure culture change and quality in online course delivery. Dr. Kurland will provide specific challenges and successes while encountering decades-long practices and culture regarding distance education at the institution. The initial transition included an institution wide-change that resulted in the establishment of a new academic division.  Strategic planning, staying agile and relationship building were all important in the success of the initial transition and continue to be important as these changes are institutionalized across the college. This presentation will discuss the challenges of establishing the Virtual Campus and provide insight into best practices to ensure the success of the new Virtual Campus.