One Boulder at a Time: A Rotating Exploration of Digital Solutions to Teaching/Learning Challenges

Workshop Session 1

Brief Abstract

In a table-rotating, unconference-style format, workshop participants partner with session co-facilitators to share, discuss, and collect technologies, tools, and approaches found useful in their work as educational developers.  Each table-group will begin with a guided example and then generate/collect ideas to include in a collaborative online document.


Dr. Bonnie Mullinix is currently Core faculty in the PhD Education Program at Walden University. She has worked in Education for nearly 40 years and in Higher Education for over half of that time working as faculty and particularly with faculty and curriculum development efforts. She is also Sr. Associate with the TLT Group, an affiliation that has been in place since 2008. Bonnie holds a doctorate and masters in Education from the Center for International Education, University of Massachusetts, Amherst with a focus on Adult and International Education and her Bachelors from University of California, Santa Cruz in an individualized major in Transdsiciplinary Studies. Since 1986 Dr. Mullinix has presented more than 60 professional papers at national and international conferences and designed, produced, edited and/or published over 50 articles, chapters, books, monographs, manuals and training guides since 1981. She has been active in multiple professional organizations presenting, reviewing, chairing and/or holding multiple officer positions (Professional and Organizational Development(POD) Network in Higher Education, American Educational Research Association - AERA SIGS: Chair, Faculty Training, Evaluation and Development, Co-secretary/ treasurer/ webmaster, Adult Education and Adult Literacy, and Research Focus on Africa and the Caribbean; Society for Research in Adult Development (SRAD), and the Comparative and International Education Society).
Phil Edwards is an Instructional Consultant at the Center for Faculty Excellence at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is also an Instructor with online MSIS Program from the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. At the CFE, he manages the Graduate Student Fellowships Program and the Course Design Institutes Program. He holds an MS in information science from the University of Michigan and a BS in chemistry with a minor in mathematics from the University at Buffalo.
Dr. David S. McCurry has worked in the United States and internationally for more than 35 years in the fields of information and communications technology in education, distance learning, media in education, extension communications, curriculum and materials development, teacher education, and faculty development. He worked for 18 years in African educational development as a Peace Corps volunteer leader, U.S. Information Agency/Fulbright lecturer, and senior consultant and interim chief of party for USAID and the Institute for International Research (now AIR). He spent eight years as a professor of education in the United States, achieving tenure and associate professor rank while directing Master of Education programs and electronic portfolio assessment in addition to regular teaching, research and advising duties. Dr. McCurry worked for Converse College as the director of distance education and is now the director of distance education at the University of South Carolina Upstate.
Michael Lampe is an Instructional Design Specialist and Adjunct Faculty member at the University of South Carolina Upstate. His teaching and research interests have focused around online teaching, active learning, gaming in the classroom, and augmented reality. He is finishing his dissertation regarding active learning experiences and needs when implementing active learning initiatives in higher education at the University of South Carolina College of Education's Educational Technology Program.
Dr. David S. Williams provides support to faculty, staff, and students on matters pertaining to online, blended and web-enhanced courses for all colleges and departments at the University of South Alabama. He also provides assessment support for ILC program activities and assists faculty in designing evaluation of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and course improvement projects. David received his PhD in Instructional Design and Development at USA with research focusing on program evaluation theory. He received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his Bachelor of Arts in social science from the University of Mobile. He has over 12 years experience in teaching, course design, and coordination of K-12 and higher education programs.

Extended Abstract

Any effort to address problems and challenges encountered and change well-established behaviors in higher education settings can feel like one is moving boulders, rolling each one, bit by bit and in strategic directions to create new pathways. Keeping in mind that the directions chosen should consider how to create sustainable processes, integrate innovative, evidence-based practices and uses of technology.

Conceptual framework: Prochaska and Velicer’s (1997) five stages of [health] behavior change (precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance) and targeted interventions help people adopt positive habits. Educational developers' integration of technology follows a similar pathway and the challenges associated with online learning environments (Neilson & Goodson, 2018) require a creative problem-solving and innovative use of technologies grounded in evidence-supported practices.  Blending a table-rotation unconference format (Hale & Bessette, 2016) with opportunities for personal reflection encourages attendees to both quickly engage with a range of topics/practices while also considering changes to their own practices. These frameworks come together in this session as co-facilitators with experience problem-solving and addressing challenges with technological solutions collectively offer a range of technological, administrative, and educational experiences spanning a variety of higher education institutional contexts.

Expected outcomes:  By the end of this session, attendees will:

  1. Consider topics related to learning, technology and educational development;

  2. Select and explore at least 3-4 topics via table-rotation;

  3. Gather and reflect on insights from discussions with colleagues and consider feasibility, adaptations and application to their own institutional settings.

Session Activities:

Introduction (10-15 minutes) - Co-facilitators introduce the session, outcomes, and table-rotation process. Co-facilitators introduce themselves and offer an overview of their table area of focus.

Table-rotation (60 minutes) - Attendees select starting tables (even starting distribution is encouraged). Lead and co-facilitators ensure timely table rotation: 13-15 minutes/table for 4 rotations (2 min rotation/startup).

Table co-facilitators share a case drawn from their own educational development practice; cases include problems, challenges/tensions, technologies considered/adopted, unanticipated barriers encountered, and outcomes. The 8 minute overview is followed by a 5 minute discussion with focus on takeaways.

Report-out - Insights & Next Steps (15 minutes) - Lead co-facilitator invites table-leads to report out on key insights generated at table discussions and recorded on the online takeaway Google document (link provided).  Final comments from participants regarding favorite application ideas close the session.

Table Topics:

Accessibility & Technology - Making online courses accessible creates challenges for the average online instructor (Scott, Temple & Marshall, 2015) as syllabi and learning modules must be designed to provide accessible learning experiences ( The participants will examine the Universal Design for Learning principles and explore ways to effectively support faculty in accessible course design.

Social Media Outreach - Major social media platforms persist as venues for conversation, current awareness, and resource sharing among educational developers and faculty (Edwards et al., 2016; & Holt, Murphy & Edwards, 2014). Participants at this table reflect on their investments in social media--whether considering creating, modifying, or expanding personal, professional, and/or institutional presences.

Supporting Inclusiveness and Media Literacy - The current social/political climate of the U.S. has had an undeniable effect on Higher Education (Bauman, 2018). Participants will discuss how to be inclusive in the classroom while navigating political tensions and how to help students develop critical media consciousness in an era of “fake news” (sample resources provided).

Continuity of Learning - Unpredictable events (weather, illness, family,...), disrupt teaching/learning schedules and prompt faculty to make up lost time by condensing/dropping content/assignments or adding online requirements. Participants discuss strategies for helping faculty prepare for unexpected disruptions and ensure the continuity of learning for students in both face-to-face and technology-enhanced learning environments.

Open Topic - The opportunity will be created for an open table to allow discussion of emergent technologies, issues and interests not addressed elsewhere.

Materials Provided in Workshop: Each Table will have a Table Topic Handout that provides an overview of the problems, challenges, processes and practices that participants can reference and take with them.  A Google Document summarizing the ideas generated and key takeaways will be created and shared. A summary handout will provide a brief overview of the session and a link to the Google Document developed during the session and available for reference following the session.

Participants: Individuals engaged with all aspects of educational development will find this session to have relevance to their work, inclusive of: Teaching/Learning, curriculum design, faculty development, organizational and communications support.  The open nature of the workshop design allows for areas of shared interest and experiences of all participants to be explored and shared.

Materials Required: Projection capability (laptop provided by presenters), wifi/internet access, round tables for ease of grouping and rotation (preferably at least 4-5)



Bauman, D. (February 16, 2018). After 2016 election, campus hate crimes seemed to jump. Here’s what the data Tell us. Chronicle of Higher Education 64(25). Retrieved:

Edwards, P. M., Vargas Ramos, G., Mullinix, B., Wheeler, B., Levy, A., Zhadko, O., Bruenjes, L., and Chaudhury, S. Raj. (2016, November). Building a social media presence for Centers and educational developers. Workshop presented at the 41st Annual Conference of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education, Louisville, KY.

Fidaldo, P., & Thormann, J. (2017). Reaching students in online courses using alternative formats. International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 18(2). doi:10.19173/irrodl.v18i2.2601

Hale, E., & Bessette, L. S. (2016). New frontiers: Exploring the power and possibilities of the unconference as a transformative approach to faculty development. Journal of Faculty Development, 30(2), 9-15.

Holt, S., Murphy, M., & Edwards,  P. M. (2014, November). Reassessing goals for Center social media: Leveraging offline relationships. Poster presented at the 39th Annual Conference of the Professional and Organizational Development (POD) Network in Higher Education, Dallas, TX.

National Center On Universal Design for Learning. Retrieved from

Neilson, L. B., & Goodson, L. A. (2018). Online teaching at its best: Merging instructional design with teaching and learning research. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Prochaska, J. O., & Velicer, W. F. (1997). The transtheoretical model of health behavior change. American Journal of Health Promotion, 12(1), 38-48. 38-48.doi:10.4278/0890-1171-12.1.38

Scott, L., Temple, P., & Marshall, D. (2015). UDL in online college coursework: Insights of infusion and educator preparedness. Online Learning, 19(5). doi:10.24059/olj.v19i5.623