2014 UPCEA Federal Policy Brief

As a current member of the advisory council for the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy, I’m passing along this special update below from Bob Hansen, UPCEA CEO, releasing the 2014 UPCEA Federal Policy Brief. I highly recommend all those involved in online learning to read the briefing and stay abreast of the federal policy landscape that is influencing higher education and specifically online education today. ~ Jason Rhode @jasonrhode

UPCEA Federal Policy Brief

The UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy is pleased to announce the 2014 UPCEA Federal Policy Brief. This document is a result of the 2014 UPCEA Online Leadership Roundtable and focuses broadly on online education policy at the federal level. Developed with direct input from membership and the UPCEA Policy Committee, these recommendations provide a framework for the federal government to address the needs of contemporary learners and those who serve them. Topics covered include State Authorization, financial aid, gainful employment, costs of compliance, and the importance of collecting meaningful data that reflect the fundamental demographic shift toward non-traditional-or “contemporary”-students. Click here to view the UPCEA Federal Policy Brief.

We encourage you to read it, and share it with others – including your institution’s internal government affairs staff, and your members of Congress. Our elected representatives must understand the importance of these issues, and the impact that they have on the students we serve. You can find the contact information for your members of Congress here. We encourage you to contact your members and schedule a meeting to discuss these issues if you are in Washington. If you are interested in increased UPCEA advocacy efforts, please fill out this form.

You can learn more about these policy issues during a session at the 2015 Summit for Online Leadership and Strategy, January 20-22, 2015 in San Antonio, Texas.  Learn more about the Summit, hosted in partnership with the American Council on Education (ACE), and register here.

Also, remember to take advantage of the services and expertise offered by UPCEA’s Center for Online Leadership and Strategy. We know that balancing all of the facets of a successful online initiative can be challenging, which is why all members have complimentary access to the Center’s Second Opinion service. Second Opinion is an opportunity to ask questions or discuss pressing issues with the Center’s founding director, Ray Schroeder.

To keep abreast of developments related to State Authorization and state licensing issues, UPCEA’s expert partner, Cooley LLP, offers services to help schools navigate an increasingly dynamic environment.

I’d like to give a very special thanks to Chris Murray and Ken Salomon at Thompson Coburn for their expertise in helping develop the UPCEA Federal Policy Brief. To learn more about Thompson Coburn’s services and products, please click here.

I hope you’ll join us in raising awareness of these important issues!


Bob Hansen


8th Annual Emerging Technologies for Online Learning #ET4Online Symposium – join us! CFP opens 10/1

Look who's speaking at #ET4Online

Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium

April 22-24, 2015, Dallas, TX

Follow @OLCToday for updates!


Sloan-C has been newly rebranded as the Online Learning Consorutium and this April, the Emerging Technologies for Online Learning International Symposium will convene in Dallas, TX for its 8th annual event. This year’s symposium, which is a joint event with MERLOT, is shaping up to be dynamic!

Keynote & Plenaries

Mimi Ito is confirmed as the keynote speaker. Ito (@Mizuko) has contributed ground breaking research about the impact of digital media on today’s youth. Gardner Campbell (@GardnerCampbell) and Bonnie Stewart (@BonStewart) will be presenting the plenary talks at the symposium. Together, these presentations will engage in a mindful exploration of how emerging technologies are reshaping formal and informal learning, as well as impacting the nature of identity for us all.

More Hands-on Experiences!

Also included in this year’s program you’ll find the Technology Test Kitchen, where brief hands-on sessions will be conducted to introduce you to an array of new technologies that hold potential for reshaping and improving the way we teach and our students learn online. The Technology Test Kitchen was introduced at #Blend14 and will also be part of the OLC’s International Conference in Orlando at the end of October. I’m really looking forward to this new program feature!

EdTech Startups Return with a Revamped Launch Pad

The Launch Pad will also be back again this year with a new feature — the Teacher Tank, which will provide our Launch Pad participants with an opportunity to pitch their product to a panel of online educators. Anchored in the context of formative feedback and learning, this event will be fast-paced and high energy! Join us!

Submit Your Great Ideas: CFP Opens 10/1!

If that whets your appetite, mark your calendar for the Call for Proposals which will be open from October 1-December 1 (no extensions will be provided). YOUR participation will make this symposium more diverse and representative of how emerging technologies are reshaping online teaching and learning.

I hope to see you in Dallas!

Jason Rhode
Jason Rhode, @jrhode
#ET4Online Assistant Conference Chair, 2015

Proud of my cousin, Jared Abbrederis, drafted by Green Bay Packers

Jared Abbrederis My family was so excited to learn that my 2nd cousin, Jared Abbrederis, a former walk-on wide receiver who just finished his career with the Wisconsin Badgers, was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.

For anyone wondering the family connection, my mom’s maiden name is Abbrederis and Jared’s grandpa Abbrederis and my grandpa Abbrederis are brothers, making my mom and Jared’s dad 1st cousins, and Jared and me 2nd cousins.

Not only is our family excited, but so is my entire hometown, Wautoma, WI where Jared also grew up and his family currently lives. The entire community is sharing it’s pride.

Jared has defied the odds time and time again during his high school and collegiate athletic career. In high school, despite suffering a devastating leg injury, he went on to win multiple state championships as a track star, breaking state records in the 110m high hurdles and 300m intermediate hurdles, as well as lead his high school football team and track teams to state championships as a senior.

Jared with state championship trophiesJared holding high school track and football championship trophies

He went on to be a walk-on at the University of Wisconsin, where through his hard work and dedication he become one of the all-time greatest wide receivers at UW, finishing his career tied for the school record for receptions (202) and ranked No. 2 all-time at Wisconsin in receiving yards (3,140) and touchdown receptions (23).


Being from Wisconsin, our family has always been huge Badgers fans, but all the more with Jared playing on the team. While he’s certainly well-known throughout WI, my girls may be among his biggest fans!

meeting JaredMy daughters, ages 2 and 5, meeting Jared at Badgers Family Fun Day in 2013

The entire Abbrederis family certainly couldn’t be prouder of Jared!

Abby FamilySome of the Abbrederis family with Jared following big win

Playing for the Packers would be a dream come true for Jared…and he’s now one step closer to that dream become reality! Leading up to the draft, he and his family talked about the opportunity to possibly playing for the Packers. Here are a couple of videos of Jared leading up to the draft in which he was asked about the possibility of playing for the Packers:

It’s been fun following all the conversations and media about Jared since the draft. Here are a few tweets and links to articles immediately following his draft announcement by the Packers:

As you might suspect, I couldn’t be prouder of the outstanding young man the Jared has become and I’ll be continuing to follow Jared’s career as he launches his NFL career as a Packer, where he’ll be wearing #84. As I come across further news about Jared, I plan to share it to the Jared Abbrederis Fan Club on Facebook so feel free to follow along Jared’s journey there. You can also follow him on Twitter @abbrecadabra.

Jared Abbrederis bio

Excited to be Receiving Blackboard Exemplary Course Catalyst Award at BbWorld 2014

Blackboard Catalyst Award WinnerI was excited to learn that my Blackboard course, ETT 510: Instructional Media and Technology, which I designed and taught online during Fall 2013, has been reviewed by the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program and received the distinction of being named an Exemplary Course. Below is the email notice I received from Lauren Krznaric at Blackboard:

On behalf of Blackboard and the Exemplary Course Program Directors, I am pleased to inform you that your course, Instructional Media and Technology, has been recognized as a 2014 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course. Congratulations on this achievement! You join a select group of educators and course designers from around the world whose courses have earned the Exemplary Course designation.

One of my reviewers, Leah Chuchran, shared these kind comments on Twitter:

Below is a sampling of some of the great feedback I received from reviewers of my course, including:

This is a really well-designed course. I kept trying to find a ‘weak link’ in the course navigation but just couldn’t do it! This is good, right? It’s not an easy feat to design a course that is clear to navigate, robust in content and not feeling like I am lost somewhere trying to find something. The units make sense and the links within keep everything organized. The downloadable syllabus and the schedule were also easily accessed – so important! Exemplary work.

It is evident that Dr. Rhode has a passion for higher ed/online education AND design/development skills. It’s also evident that he enjoys the facilitation side and teaching both theory and practice and engaging with learners. The audience for this course really is awesome and ripe for a well-developed course – what more could one ask for? The embedded YouTube videos and especially the channel are an excellent addition to the course. Aggregated content in this fashion is so valuable for the learners. I really enjoy the fact that the synchronous sessions are scheduled and the students are expected to attend in this online class. I think that really is important and should be integrated as much as possible in the online environment.

The learning activities truly embody the student-content, student-student and student-instructor theory and practice. The learners were offered an opportunity to gain many new skills, even if there was a “stretch” involved. I love how the learners were surveyed about their technical skills so you could gauge your audience. The journal activity seems to be a key component and allow you to “take the temperature”. In addition, I really enjoyed both the ID model presentation as well as the tech-integrated ID plan assignments. Especially the models/templates that were provided – I can imagine how much time this saved both parties in the process.

I think that learner support was one of the main foci for this course, from the course design to the variety of content to support learning to the learning activities in which students were given opportunities to perform and shine.

The course design is exemplary. It’s easy to navigate and it just makes sense. It provides the learners with all of the necessary information to be successful and to jump right in and feel like they can begin learning the subject at hand, not how to get to the content and activities.

The learning activities are awesome. Assessment of each of the activities is thorough and clear with the rubrics. Each of the activities is appropriate for the audience.

Student engagement is obvious throughout, including in the discussions and the group projects. The feedback on the various assignments were also important in creating engagement.

I truly hope it is nominated as one of the Bb Exemplary Courses for 2013. It truly is one of the most well-designed courses I’ve seen.

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards will formally be presented at the Blackboard Catalyst Awards Luncheon on Thursday, July 17th at Blackboard’s annual worldwide user conference, BbWorld. As an exemplary course winner, I’ll be preparing a poster presentation for BbWorld, a screencast course tour, and also may be giving another information session at BbWorld (if proposal is accepted) with tips for exemplary course design in Blackboard.

Thank you to all my NIU ETRA Technology Specialist cohort students in the course this past fall and for your valuable feedback that guided the course design and delivery. I’ve previously shared my tips learned through the experience with other faculty and am currently in the process of designing a new course, ETT 511: Advanced Instructional Media and Design following the same principles of quality course design.

I was also thrilled to hear that the NIU MOOC that my colleagues Stephanie Richter and Tracy Miller helped develop has also received the Exemplary Course Award, also to be recognized at BbWorld!

For faculty who have never considered participating in the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, I encourage you to do so! More details are available at blackboard.com/ecp

Instructional Design Coordinator Position Opening

NIU is seeking an Instructional Design Coordinator to join the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center to offer training programs and high-level individual and group consultations on instructional design and course transformation suitable for both classroom and distributed learning.

POSITION: 12-month full-time, supportive professional staff position


  1. Keep current with emerging pedagogies and instructional best practices.
  2. Offer high-level individual and group consultations on instructional design and course transformation suitable for both classroom and distributed learning.
  3. Develop and deliver training programs on instructional tools and techniques including distributed learning quality assurance for faculty, teaching staff and teaching assistants.
  4. Design and develop quick guides, informational materials, and tutorials on emerging teaching and learning techniques for the Center.
  5. Contribute to the planning and assessment activities of the Center.
  6. Design, implement, and maintain online quality assurance metrics for the Center.
  7. Maintain and further develop online and social media communications for the Center.
  8. Collaborate with Center staff on various programs, resources and services offered by the Center.
  9. Represent the Center in teaching and learning-related committees internal and external to the institution.
  10. Work closely with the Director and Center staff on various activities related to the mission of the Center as assigned.


  • Master’s degree in instructional technology, computer science or related fields is required.
  • At least 1-year experience with learning management systems and online pedagogies suitable for a higher education environment is required.
  • Knowledge of instructional design principles, pedagogical techniques, and use of instructional technologies suitable for a range of teaching and learning modalities is required.
  • At least 1-year experience in the design, development and delivery of tutorials on instructional best practices suitable for a higher education audience is required.
  • Ability to prepare and disseminate informational materials through the web and social media is required.
  • Excellent communication skills, planning and organizational abilities, problem-solving skills, and ability to work collaboratively and collegially in a team environment are required.
  • Experience using Windows, Mac, office productivity tools, online teaching tools, and social media tools for teaching purposes is required.
  • Knowledge of online course quality assurance standards and review process is required.
  • Experience designing and maintaining web communications is required.


  • Doctoral degree or experience teaching in a higher education environment is preferred.


Send a letter of application, resume, and names and contact information for three recent professional references related to the position by May 25, 2014 to facdev@niu.edu

The position will remain open until filled. This is a campus search, but applications received from outside the campus will also be considered. Contact (815) 753-0595 or facdev@niu.edu for more information.

In compliance with the Illinois Campus Security Act, before an offer of employment is made, the university will conduct a pre-employment background investigation, which includes a criminal background check.

In accordance with applicable statutes and regulations, NIU is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, ancestry, sex, religion, age, physical and mental disability, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, political affiliation, or any other factor unrelated to professional qualifications, and will comply with all applicable federal and state statutes, regulations and orders pertaining to nondiscrimination, equal opportunity and affirmative action. NIU recognizes Dual Career issues.