Friday, April 29, 2016

HEeD ThinkTank - Washington, DC April 7-8

 Welcome to Washington, DC! 

This was me with the Library of Congress; I couldn't resist, being an English major and all :)

Me at the Library of Congress
So, at the beginning of April, I traveled to Washington, DC to attend Higher Education eDesign Association's first ever ThinkTank conference. This conference was more of an unconference style, in that rather than having presentations, the whole thing was based around discussion and collaboration with leaders. For the months leading up to the conference, I had been working with the professional development committee to plan it, so it was really cool to see it roll out. The picture below is of the professional development committee, Tyler Weldon from Auburn University, myself, and Shawndra Bowers from Auburn University.

The Professional Development committee at HEeD ThinkTank 2016
We took tons and tons of notes via Padlet on this site:, where you can go and read comments from universities all over the country, but I'm going to highlight some of it for you.

Interesting Things I Learned About Other Schools

Give a man a fish, and he'll eat for a day. But teach a man to fish, and he'll eat his whole life. (or something to that effect)

Probably the most interesting thing I learned about a lot of the other schools at the conference is that most of them build courses for their faculty. As instructional designers, their job is to collect the content from faculty and then put it in their course for them so that they can control how the courses look and the standards they meet. Comparing that to the way we do things at KSU, I have to say that I feel fortunate to work at a school that teaches our faculty to do it themselves because not only does it make you more self-sustaining which allows me to help more faculty at once, but it also keeps the control and creativity of the course in your own hands.

Talking Team Structure and Process

Because I know we all love QM :)

I also found that a lot of the other schools at the conference were struggling with how to motivate faculty to have their course built completely before it is delivered. I know that there are many face-to-face classes that will gather their notes for the next class only a few days before, and that can usually work for them. But it doesn't necessarily work in an asynchronous online environment. Things can get messy real quick like that. It made me really appreciate QM because it ends up being not only a quality standard for us to meet, but it is also an accountability tool. Our faculty have to build their courses out 100% before delivery because it has to first pass QM. 

While several of the schools at the conference were QM-subscribing institutions, I also learned about some of the quality standard systems that other schools use. For example Wilmington has a 5-point review model of which the courses must meet at least four of them.

Cool Tools and Sites that Came Up

Softchalk (of course, since I was there)
VoiceThread (believe it or not, I wasn't the one to bring this one up)

The HEeD Collaborative

At the end of the conference, president Camille Funk announced that HEeD will be joining with UPCEA as their instructional design group, and that HEeD Association will now be known as HEeD Collaborative. She later emailed the following information to explain what that means for our organization:

Membership to the HEeD Collaborative will be extended to all instructional design teams that currently have an UPCEA institutional membership. We will be launching an effort in the coming month to register these new teams and expand our membership.  
For those institutions not currently part of UPCEA, they will be extended a complimentary membership until July 2017 after which they will have the opportunity to continue membership with either 1) an UPCEA institutional membership, or 2) a HEeD Collaborative individual yearly membership. We hope this meets all the needs of our current members. 
One of the great benefits in merging with UPCEA is that they currently serve the administrative leaders for online education and a partnership would serve as a informative gateway between the two parties. It could also foster career progression for our group.  
We will also have a host of new resources, with the ability to customize and build unique instances just for our needs. Many of our goals for networking, professional development, research and publication, and certification will be realized much sooner than we originally had anticipated.

Overall, I was really pleased with the conference, and I look forward to seeing what happens with the new UPCEA merge and I look forward to starting to plan next years conference as well as launching a series of webinars, certification, and research opportunities.

HEeD ThinkTank 2016 Attendees