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Designing a Successful Distance Education Program

#sxsw #distanted

What creates a successful and rewarding interactive elearning or distance education program? By exploring case studies, this panel examines several distinct approaches in answering this question based on the specific needs and demands of the students involved. Educators and students from non-profit institutions as diverse as an art and design college, a seminary, and other established universities discuss their experiences and success in designing distance and distributive learning programs based on their student learning objectives.



Aaron Pompei Dir of Multimedia Strategy & Dev Savannah College of Art and Design

Aaron Pompei has developed innovative approaches to the delivery of distance learning programs globally and in our community. He has demonstrated a capacity to rapidly adjust to the evolving nature of the field.

Pompei has moved up through Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) from eLearning Analyst, Media Designer, Senior Media Designer, to Director of Multimedia Strategy and Development. In these roles he has worked with faculty, staff, and the community over the years in many capacities. His experience in live course support as well as in course development has given him an excellent perspective of the needs of online students and how SCAD can give them a fully-rounded academic experience. These needs directly impacted his direction as a media designer where he was able to create meaningful interactions for students. This access allows online education to reach beyond existing pedagogy. He is fostering a constructive learning environment full of ideas.

Through his work on the Virtual Lecture Hall, a compilation of video from events and lectures, he has connected our community to a global education environment. With this, students, faculty and educators have access to be engaged and participate regardless of their location. This resources gives all SCAD students, faculty and staff 24/7 access to connecting with high caliber guests the university attracts, enabling them to learn from leaders and visionaries. This connection of educators allows education to evolve to something new.

The Virtual Lecture Hall has been a great platform to many community outreach endeavors. Pompei recently implemented live streaming to the Virtual Lecture Hall to increase the delivery opportunities, access options, and audiences. This project now extends the impact of guest lecturers brought to Savannah to a greater audience beyond the boundaries of the hosting location. He has successfully implement this during many of the department hosted guest lectures, conferences, and speaker series over the last year. The service has also given the project the ability to extend its reach to mobile devices, our international audience, and improve overall production process to include aspects of communication through social media, reduced post-production overhead, and an improved streaming experience for students. This capability has been able to translate to many platforms of education. For example, he had significant impact in the community with COINs2010. Pompei was responsible for spearheading live streaming and open social media touch points for attendees at a distance and the public to interact with the conference. This effort was a success as speakers and attendees interacted directly with public and remote conference members through out the two-day conference synchronously through live video and chat.

In collaboration with a highly talented group of Design Management graduate students he is taking on individual aspects of this project allowing it to grow further in features, service and content through student feedback and collaboration. Intentionally assembling this team of graduate students was an opportunity to extend the collaborative, evaluation and design thinking skills they are learning in their degree program to a real world project, which will impact them as well as their peers. Each team member has a specific area of responsibility with overlapping areas of interest leading many times to organic collaboration and bubbling up insights for decision making as a team. His mentoring in the community has had profound impact for students and their careers.

Pompei has developed a new template that all our fully online courses utilize. The template leverages technology to allow accessibility and functionality. The template has been a benchmark for pushing our courses to the 21st century. As mobile increases, accessibility demands become increasingly important. The impact on education brings new opportunities for learning. The template will foster this.

SCAD e-Learning’s courses and degree programs have set the standard for art and design distance education services and course development, and the college has received numerous awards in recognition of SCAD e-Learning. Pompei has been instrumental to accomplishing these goals as a higher education institution for art and design.

Henry Leitner Sr Lecturer on Computer Science Assoc Dean for Information Tech & CTO for the Division of Continuing Education Harvard University

Henry Leitner is the associate dean of information technology and chief technology officer for the Division of Continuing Education (DCE), Harvard University and Senior Lecturer on Computer Science, Harvard University. In this role he provides vision and leadership in the development and implementation of technology-based initiatives that serve both the administrative and academic areas, including online teaching and learning.

He created and directs the Master of Liberal Arts in information technology program at Harvard Extension School, a graduate program of study in which adult learners are exposed to modern software engineering methodologies, theoretical and formal areas of computer science, advanced topics in cryptography, nanoscale science, digital media arts and sciences and enterprise computing.

As senior lecturer on computer science, for more than two decades Leitner has taught large introductory computer science courses and other advanced courses for Harvard Extension and Summer Schools, as well as Harvard College. In 1999, he received the Petra T. Shattuck Excellence in Teaching Award, and in 2006 he was honored for 25 years of teaching at Harvard Extension School.

He co-founded Articulate Systems, Inc., a company that pioneered the use of voice recognition technology on the Apple Macintosh computer. He helped to found the Indian Computer Academy, a nonprofit institute based in Bangalore, India, and currently oversees the distance education program at DCE. He received his master's degree and his doctorate from Harvard University, and his undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.

Julie Lytle M3, Theological Education Media Consultant Episcopal Divinity School

Julie Anne Lytle, PhD, is President of M3, a consulting firm dedicated to helping educators appropriately integrate digital media. A leader in efforts to blend on-campus and on-line interaction in theological education, she combines academic training in journalism/advertising, theology, and education with professional use of every form of media and pastoral experience in parishes, dioceses, national and university settings.

As a digital evangelist, Julie is currently a theological education media consultant to Virginia Theological Seminary as they explore digital ways to expand their summer MA programs. Over the past six years, she led the development of the Episcopal Divinity School's innovated Distributive Learning Masters option and the creation of EDSConnect, its lifelong formation and education division.

Her other innovations include Interpreters Carelink, a videoconference-based hospital emergency room interpreter service for the deaf, hard of hearing, and non-native English speakers at Beth Isreal Deaconness Medical Center, in Boston and CTNC, a parish-based, satellite distribution network for faith based programming in the 1980s.

Finding that leaders often make media decisions without due process, Julie seeks to guide communities as they define a message, choose methods, and then select media to reach their intended audiences and goals. Her research includes an ecological approach to study the impact of the digital convergence on individual and communal formation, the interactive methods that are emerging for lifelong faith formation, and the transformative potential of social media.

Michael Chaney Professor Savannah College of Art & Design

Michael Jackson Chaney’s films and time based media installations have been exhibited internationally. His short films have been included in numerous domestic and international film festivals including The International Film Festival Rotterdam, the Edinburgh International Film Festival, The Savannah Film Festival, The Black Maria Film Festival, and The Palm Springs International Festival of Short Films.

Born and raised in Mississippi, Michael Jackson Chaney holds a B.F.A. from Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California and an M.F.A. from Tufts University/The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is currently pursuing a Master of Divinity degree at the Episcopal Divinity School in Cambridge, MA. He is a professor of Film and Television and Sound Design at the Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah, Georgia, USA with an interest in emerging distribution platforms for independent media.

Prior to teaching he worked as a television producer in New York City for clients such as Hearst Publications, the Seagram Company, and the New York Times. He has been a consultant and special events programmers for the Savannah Film Festival since it’s inception in 1998.

Steve Carson External Rel Dir Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Steve Carson is External Relations Director for MIT OpenCourseWare ( His responsibilities include sustainability initiatives; strategic partnerships with other organizations; MIT OpenCourseWare's support of opencourseware projects at other institutions; special projects in priority areas; and project evaluation.

Steve also served as the first president of the OpenCourseWare Consortium from 2008 to 2011, where he oversaw the incorporation of the organization as an independent non-proft, secured funding to support its operation and helped grow membership to include more than 250 universities globally. He currently serves on the organization's board of directors.

Prior to joining the MIT OpenCourseWare team, Steve served as Associate Director of Emerson College's Division of Continuing Education in Boston, where - in addition to managing core academic activities of the division - he developed and taught Emerson's first asynchronous, Web-based distance learning course. Steve earned his MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, and taught creative and expository writing there for five years.

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