Conversations on Collaborate: A Summary of Regional Discussions Held Across the Country

Concurrent Session 8
Streamed Session OLC Session

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Brief Abstract

This panel brings together Collaborate Conference host institutions and OLC staff members and to talk about their experience hosting a regional Collaborate Conference.  The panel will provide insights into the logistics of hosting a Collaborate Conference and will describe the outcomes of each conference to date.  This will include a discussion of regional differences and responses to the changes occurring in higher education.


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.
Leslie Kennedy, Ed.D., Director, Affordable Learning Solutions (AL$) at the CSU Office of the Chancellor provides strategic planning and project and vendor management in support of AL$ initiatives and leads a number of campus and system-wide collaborations. Previously, Leslie served as the director of instructional technology support services at CSULB, engagement and user community relations manager for WebCT, and was tenured faculty at Fullerton College. She has an MA in Linguistics and a second Masters in Online Learning and Teaching. Her doctorate is in educational leadership in higher education with a focus on supporting mainstream faculty adoption of instructional technologies. Her work and education background includes a unique combination of relevant vendor experience, project management of diverse academic technology projects and teams, and first-hand experience as a faculty member which enables her to provide vision and guidance to AL$.
Gerard L. Hanley Ph.D. is the Executive Director of MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching, and SkillsCommons ( for the California State University, the Director for the Center for Usability for Design and Accessibility and Professor of Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. At MERLOT and SkillsCommons, he directs the development and sustainability of the international consortium and technology strategy to provide open educational services to improve teaching and learning and continues to development the US Department of Labor's open repository of educational resources for workforce development. Gerry's previous positions include Assistance Vice Chancellor for Academic Technology Services at the CSU Office of the Chancellor, the Director of Faculty Development and Director of Strategy Planning at CSU, Long Beach.
Dr. Linda S. Futch is the Interim Direction, Instructional Design, for the Center for Distributed Learning at the University of Central Florida. Her duties cover instructional design, technical support for online courses, and management of the course management system. Linda has been instrumental in guiding faculty development for online courses and developing systems to support faculty and students. She has developed curriculum and delivered instruction in business, high school, community college, and higher education. For her doctoral dissertation, Linda studied blended learning at a large metropolitan university and is currently studying the design of successful blended courses.
Dr. Karen Pedersen has a long history serving in various administrative positions in both public and private higher education institutions and is currently in the role of Dean for Global Campus at Kansas State University. Previously she worked as the Chief Knowledge Officer for the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) where she served as a thought leader and fostered initiatives related to learning innovation, quality enhancement, leadership development, and institutional transformation. She has expertise leading award-winning online and off-campus units, working with faculty institution-wide, expanding partnerships, engaging cross-institutional academic operations, and pursuing integrated marketing solutions to realize significant enrollment growth and retention outcomes. Other experiences include serving on the launch team for a competency-based education initiative, leading a system-wide enrollment management transformation, and building academic collaborations in Singapore, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Brazil. Prior to starting her administrative career, Pedersen served as a faculty member at the University of Nebraska. She holds bachelor of science and master of science degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a doctor of philosophy degree from Oklahoma State University.
Frank is the Director of Education at the American Hospital Association Health Forum. A former teacher and corporate trainer, he earned his B.A. in teaching from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where he studied language acquisition theory. He earned his M.S. in computing technology in education from Nova-Southeastern University. He previously directed distance education programming at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and the School of Continuing Studies at Northwestern University.

Extended Abstract

This panel brings together the institutional hosts of a number of recent OLC Collaborate Conferences to compare notes on their experiences and to summarize the discussions occurring within their region.  OLC initiated its traveling Collaborate Conference series as a way to promote regional discussions around the issues facing higher education.  Originating in Kansas City, the heart of BBQ country, and moving on to other great cities, OLC’s Collaborate series has now gone coast-to-coast to engage educators in regional discussions.     

Collaborate Conferences are participatory and take a unique approach to promoting regional discussions.  Organized around short topical keynote talks, each keynote is followed with themed breakout sessions that are facilitated to allow attendees to engage in focused discussions.   Conference scribes capture the essence of the discussions.   At the end of the day, conferences attendees and keynote speakers come together for a final discussion around the questions raised in the days breakout sessions and captured by the scribes.  This unique approach has highlighted regional similarities and differences and captured a variety of innovative approaches to managing the issues and change occurring in higher education across the country. 

If you want to gain a better understanding of regional differences to higher education issues or are interested in hosting a regional Collaborate Conference,  this panel discussion will provide insights into the diverse views of higher education across the country.