Leadership Network Symposium - Centering Equity in Digital Learning Leadership: Findings and Perspectives from the Field

Brief Abstract

Digital leaders guiding digital learning initiatives across their institutions are being called to evaluate and reflect on how they are positioning diversity, equity, and inclusion at the heart of their work and advocacy. Focusing on the critical role of digital learning leaders in advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion, this generative and supportive panel will offer perspectives on impactful and empowering practices that digital learning leaders can engage in as a way to ensure that all learners are given the opportunity to thrive in the teaching and learning environments established for their individual success.

This session is available only to registered attendees of the Leadership Network Symposium.  

Track: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Melody Buckner is the Director of Digital Learning and Online Education for the Office of Digital Learning, and the Interim Dean of UA South. In her role as director, she oversees the design, development and maintenance of over 700 courses within almost 80 fully-online programs the UA Online campus. She began at the UA almost a decade ago as an Instructional Designer, charged with helping faculty create online courses that reach out and engage students in an online UA experience. Before coming to the University, she served as an Instructional Designer in Professional Development and as an adjunct faculty for Pima Community College. Her educational background includes, a Bachelor of Science from the College of Architecture at Arizona State University and a Masters in Educational Technology at Northern Arizona University. She is earned her Ph.D. in Teaching, Learning and Sociocultural Studies at the University of Arizona in 2015. Her informal education consists of living in over 40 different places including several countries overseas.
Ruanda Garth-McCullough, PhD., is the Director of Program Development at Achieving the Dream (ATD). Dr. Garth-McCullough leads equity-minded teaching and learning service development and the Every Learner Everywhere digital learning initiative at ATD. Her expertise in culturally responsive teaching guides her faculty-focused professional learning and coaching work in the equity and social justice space. For over 25 years, she has worked with colleges and public schools to support educators to apply the principles and methods of culturally responsive teaching, center student learning, and assess and revise curriculum across disciplines. Ruanda approaches her work from an inclusive, culturally affirming and asset-based perspective that supports educators to create opportunities in their practice in ways that invite and integrate their students’ cultural knowledge and experiences as a cognitive tool in service of their achievement and success. Her workshops and coaching lead teams of educators to investigate equity for each element of their practice from policies, materials, and instruction to assessments. Previously, Dr. Garth-McCullough was a faculty member in the School of Education at Loyola University of Chicago for 12 years. At Loyola she taught graduate level courses including Multicultural Education, Teaching and Learning in Urban Communities, Sociological Analysis of Urban Education, Classroom Assessment, Curriculum Development and Implementation, and Qualitative Methodology. Dr. Garth McCullough was also a founding partner at Specialized Urban Community Collaborative for Educational and Economic Development, (SUCCEED) Consulting, Inc. At SUCCEED she led a team for 20 years to conduct short term and longitudinal program evaluations for organizations, schools, and colleges’ curricular initiatives. Ruanda Garth-McCullough, Ph.D., earned her doctorate and master’s degree in Administrative Institutional Policy Studies/Urban Education from the University of Chicago. Her research focused on the effects of culturally-bound prior knowledge on African American students’ reading comprehension. She received her BA in Psychology and African American Studies from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut.
Terry Di Paolo is Vice Provost of eLearning for Dallas College. He has served as an academic administrator in multiple roles leading major strategic projects associated with college transformation, academic technology and quality in online learning and teaching. Terry moved to Texas in 2012 having spent over a decade as an academic at the United Kingdom’s Open University. With an interest in ways in which technologies and systems enhance the student experience, Terry’s career has straddled both academic affairs and student success. He is a specialist in online learning and teaching and draws on his experience as a social scientist to innovate in the higher education space through a socio-cultural lens.

Extended Abstract