Minnesota Learning Commons Best of the Summit Webinars

The Minnesota Learning Commons offers free monthly webinars. The webinars on this page are hand selected, highly rated presentations from the past year's Minnesota eLearning Summit. 

Beyond Captioning: Tips and Tricks for Accessible Course Design

Thursday, March 1, 2018

In a world where the landscape and demographics served in education are continually changing, so too must our development of courses that are accessible and accommodating to learners of all demographics, including race, ethnicity, culture, socioeconomic status, disability, ability, and much, much more. With a framework surrounding Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and Curriculum, this session will provide tips and tricks for helping develop and deliver online and blended curriculum that proactively allows for equal access for all learners.

UDL and Instruction is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn.


Jenessa Gerling and Karen LaPlant, Hennepin Technical College. Jenessa Gerling has been Communication faculty at Hennepin Technical College for 14 years and serves as the D2L Brightspace trainer. Additionally, she is co-chair of the eLearning Committee, participates as a Quality Matters (QM) Peer and Master Reviewer, and is very interested in innovative ways to increase retention and student success, recently helping MinnState develop a Captioning Toolkit.

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Webinar Details

WebEx link for the webinar

Date: Thursday, March 1, 2018
Time: 2:00 p.m., Central Standard Time (Chicago, GMT -06:00) 
Session number: 809 208 744
Session password: MNLC@2018

Teleconference Information

To receive a callback, provide your phone number when you join the training session, or call the number below and enter the access code. 
US Toll:+1 206-596-0378 
Access code: 809 208 744

Creating Academic Technology Competencies and a Faculty Development Curriculum

(April 2018)

Faculty today need a range of academic technology, pedagogical and course design skills to be effective teachers in today’s digital learning environment. What are the key skills they need and what professional development resources should be provided to help them acquire these skills? Developing a competency list can help colleges and universities answer these questions and begin preparing an effective faculty development curriculum. How do you select a list of competencies that are research based, relevant, and support student centered learning? This workshop provides an overview of academic technology, teaching, and course design competencies developed for faculty at the University of Minnesota. The competency list draws from research in the learning sciences and current national standards. During the workshop, participants will discuss, analyze and determine which competencies best meet the needs of their own faculty and educational environment. Participants will then examine a proposed curriculum to help them design or enhance their own faculty development initiatives. This workshop will benefit faculty, academic technology specialists, and administrators who want to facilitate enriched teaching and learning in today’s digital learning environment.


Nima Salehi, Christine Petersen, Peg Sherven, Sara Hurley, and Christiane Reilly, University of MinnesotaBiography. Nima Salehi is an instructional designer and assessment specialist at the University of Minnesota. She assists faculty with the development of blended and online instruction and quality course reviews. She teaches an online course on Technology Enhanced Language Learning at Hamline University. She has an MA in Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages (ESL) from the University of Minnesota.

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A to Z: Techniques to Leverage Learning

(May 2018)

Explore an A to Z collection of Add Ons, Websites, and Extensions that will increase student engagement, improve teacher productivity and leverage learning. There's something for everyone and every device! Be sure to stop in to see the updated version- all new techniques recently added!


Dihanna Fedder is the District Integrationist at Pine City Public Schools, a Google Certified Trainer, a TIES Exceptional Teacher, a Kahoot Ambassador and a Nearpod PioNear. She's presented at TIES, MASSP, ITEM, and Google Summits around the nation. Dihanna loves helping others to learn how to use technology! She's worked with iPads and Chromebooks in her district.

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Past Webinar Topics

Universal design (UD) posits seven core principles to consider in design. Many are familiar with UD strategies, but inclusive classrooms go even further in recognizing the agencies of students with a wide variety of needs and backgrounds. The importance of inclusivity work is backed by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, who in 2005 charged higher education institutions to work toward "inclusive excellence" by promoting a positive campus climate, establishing diversity as a core component in achieving desired student learning outcomes, linking diversity with quality, and rethinking and modifying pedagogy to reflect and support goals for inclusion and excellence (Williams, Berger, & McClendon, 2005). In addition, research conducted at higher education institutions have demonstrated that the extent to which students felt their institution had a nondiscriminatory environment positively impacted students' openness to diversity and taking on challenges (Pascarella et al., 1996). In this session, presenters will define and make a case for the importance of inclusivity in the online classroom. Presenters will provide several examples of how the Rothenberger Institute currently practices inclusivity in their high enrollment online courses throughout course development and facilitation, as well as discuss other inclusive practices that instructors, instructional designers, and teaching or graduate assistants can implement. Presenters will discuss current identity-related and sensitive language and why it matters. Presenters will also discuss areas of opportunity to increase inclusivity, including course content, syllabus statements, media production, citations and sources, exam questions, survey design, grading rubrics, grading processes, course policies, and interactions with students. Finally, responses from course evaluations from students who reported directly benefiting from inclusive practices will also be shared.


Sarah Keene, M.S.Ed., M.Phil.Ed. is the instructor of Success Over Stress and Sleep, Eat & Exercise at the Rothenberger Institute. In this role, she works with 15-20 undergraduate teaching assistants each term to deliver these online courses to over 2500 students per academic year. Sarah has also earned the Basic Equity and Diversity Certificate from the U of M's Office of Equality and Diversity.

Presented February, 1 2018.

Online and blended learning offers great advantages, as well as some challenges, for English Language Learners (ELLs). For instance, online asynchronous discussion boards can give ELLs necessary time to prepare responses, however their literacy skills may not be as strong as their verbal fluency. Another example is the use of videos - the ability to play a video more than once is an advantage over face-to-face lecture. However, not being able to see the lips of the lecturer and take in their nonverbal cues makes comprehension more difficult. Whether you are teaching international students, deaf students, students who are fully bilingual, or even students who grew up speaking a different dialect of English (such as Liberian or Nigerian English), the advantages in online and blended learning can be exploited, and challenges mitigated, through intentional course design. In this session, I'll identify the challenges for ELLs, and provide ways to support your ELL students through instructional design. I'll also share ways to maximize the advantages that online and blended learning offer to ELLs. In addition, I'll identify aspects of Universal Design for Learning that specifically support ELLs.


Nancy McGinley Myers is an instructional designer at the University of St. Thomas. She holds a Masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Minnesota teaching license in ESL and Spanish. Before becoming an instructional designer, she taught Spanish as a foreign language and English Language Learner classes for over a decade from middle school through college.

Presented on January 4, 2018

Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Public Schools has strategically focused on using an inside-out examination approach to redefine their district and provide an underlying systemic framework that drives their decision making - including their technology decisions. We will examine how Burnsville-Eagan-Savage educators are leveraging technology to shift instructional practices to collaborative, student-centered learning environments and how focusing on their values, beliefs & assumptions has fundamentally changed the culture in their buildings and classrooms. Our Cultural Proficiency Continuum is a tool used to identify and discuss policies, decisions, practices, and norms that are Culturally Destructive to our community and provides guidance on how we can shift to Culturally Competent practices that honor and support the learners in their schools. Leave with a heightened understanding of how a system's culture supports or sabotages educational technology efforts; along with tools to drive organizational decision making.


Stacie Stanley, EdD, currently serves as a district office administrator in ISD 191 where she oversees Curriculum, Instruction & Student Support Services including the district's Teaching & Learning efforts, English Learner Program, Parent and Community Outreach, Targeted Services and district-wide Cultural Proficiency efforts.

Rachel Gorton is the Instructional Technology Coordinator for Burnsville-Eagan-Savage Public Schools, a beautifully diverse district of 9,000 students. Rachel is a strong advocate for using technology as a catalyst for educational change and innovation. By building relationships and consensus among stakeholders, Rachel describes her goal as “leveraging technology to drive change,” focusing on equity and expanding opportunities for all students. In 2015 she was awarded the District 191 Community of Excellence Award winner for Leadership in Action and was the 2016 TIES Minnesota Technology Leader award recipient. Prior to serving as Instructional Technology Coordinator, Rachel served as a classroom teacher, technology integrationist, and curriculum coordinator. She was also a project manager for an international business and lived in Japan.

Presented December 7, 2017

This presentation will focus on effective practices and processes for supporting faculty in the development, design, and delivery of eLearning programs. Particularly acknowledging the unique needs of faculty as they develop online learning initiatives, the presenters will focus on team management skills for faculty, instructional designers, and other support staff, and will suggest methods for establishing timelines and deadlines, delegating tasks, addressing funding constraints, and navigating busy schedules. Drawing upon actual eLearning project management experiences from graduate education and outreach projects in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, the presenters will review tools that can assist in tracking the activities and milestones for a successful delivery of online courses and talk about the selection of tools in alignment with project purpose and scope. Presenters will advocate for early integration of a project manager's expertise and project management tools and will share examples of how project management can support successful project execution.


Mary Katherine O'Brien is a researcher for education and outreach in the College of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Minnesota. At present, she is the lead designer and support for ProgRESSVet, an on-line capacity-building education program for veterinary service professionals in Latin America.

Kelly Vallandingham has been with the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine for nine years working in the areas of project management, education consulting, online education development and review, undergraduate course development, course delivery, faculty technology support, technology advising, event coordination and management, employee retention and training, marketing and community relations. Kelly currently supports various VPM faculty members and eLearning initiatives through the expertise she developed in IT project management, software training, and higher education teaching. She has previously worked in IT as a Manager of Support Services for a large technology company and as the Director of Operations at a woman-owned computer training company that delivered training for multiple federal government contracts. Kelly began her career as an attorney in the state of North Carolina.

Presented November 2, 2017

If you can't find a book that suits your needs, write one! Educators in K-12 and higher education are doing just that. This presentation will cover the process used to write three textbooks in a school district in the pilot year 2016. The process that was developed and refined in the pilot year is now being used in schools to develop additional books. In addition, attendees will be introduced to a guide developed for authors, project managers, librarians and others in order to help them write and publish their own open textbooks.


Melissa Falldin is an Instructional Designer in the U of M, College of Education and Human Development, Digital Innovation and Education team. She has an MS in Instructional Design and Technology and has extensive experience in teaching and educational technology. Throughout her career, Melissa has specialized in leveraging innovative technologies to enhance learning and learner success.

Presented October 5, 2017

You've heard that people don't read on the web—they scan instead. The wisdom is that we must write for scannability: we must organize the information in the inverted pyramid style, chunk the content using headings, and bullet-list wherever we can. Those techniques work fine for corporate websites, maybe, but what to do with that serious academic content on your course website or eLearning module? What to do when you've got a ton of content you really really need your learners to read? This interactive presentation reviews all the basics of writing for the web and shows how to apply those techniques in real-life instructional problems. We'll also discuss alternative content treatments and a method that can help you decide what treatment is best. Participants also will come away with a handy cheat sheet to use in your own instructional design work. By the end of this presentation, you'll have a handful of techniques to help you drive those eyeballs from the beginning of your content to the end.


Ann Fandrey is an academic technologist, supporting teaching and learning for instructors in the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Minnesota. Her areas of expertise include graphic and information design, course website usability, online course design, accessible digital communication, visual communication and digital and visual literacies.

Presented September 7, 2017

Does it ever feel like your project management experience gets thrown out the door when working in higher education? As instructional designers, project managers, and/or academic technologists, we have to be flexible in keeping projects on-track; we also have to be sensitive and realize that asking instructors to consider changing how they traditionally teach can present them an overwhelming prospect. On paper, project management, change management, and instructional design may look like fairly straightforward processes: project management manages the tasks necessary to complete a project. Change management guides the people as they prepare for change, manage change, and reinforce change. Instructional design manages the design and development of an educational experience. In real life, however, these processes are never quite so straightforward. Additionally, we work in the higher ed environment which offers us unique challenges and opportunities for managing the tasks and people in our projects. By integrating traditional change management, project management, and instructional design models, we can adapt strategies to our academic environment. We will focus on concrete strategies to support both the tasks and the people.


Sara Schoen is an Instructional Designer at the University of Minnesota. She works with faculty and staff to develop, design, and transfer course content to online environments in ways that will be most effective for student learning. She is also interested in supporting the professional development of online instructors so that they can support their online students. Sara holds a master's degree in Multicultural College Teaching and Learning with a focus on supporting online learning. She also likes tea, playing sports, and reading.

Annette McNamara is an Instructional Designer for the University of Minnesota's Academic Technology Support Services (ATSS). As an instructional designer, she enjoys collaborating on the integration of academic technology into the design and development of effective, efficient teaching and learning experiences. Her professional interests include learning that is authentic and related to real life, making connections to create lifelong learning networks, the narrative arc of learning design, and using technology for increased efficiency in teaching and learning. She holds a master's degree in education: her research focused on the benefits and challenges of parental involvement in a secondary charter school.

Presented May 4, 2017 
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation

The MN Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum is a grassroots initiative of over 200 districts developing courses for all core content areas.

In 2013, Minnesota’s new Social Studies standards were approved. Districts needed all new curriculum for a 6th grade MN Studies course; a few of them opted to develop one themselves and the MN Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum was born. There is a sustainable model in place that will allow us to move beyond the initial scope of this project and start developing electives and forming additional partnerships.

The MPCC is a model for districts and other organizations to collaborate on the creation and adoption of OER as well as professional development and teacher support.


Jon Fila is a Curriculum Coordinator; Innovation Coach; Teacher & Moodle Strategist at Intermediate District 287. He presents around the country on the topics of digital delivery, using Open Educational Resources and Curriculum Development. He is also a content writer and curator for the MN Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum.

This program was presented on April 6, 2017

The goals of this presentation are to share the whats, whys, hows, and successes of online discussion self-grading. The presenters have successfully implemented discussion self-grading. We will provide a step-by-step how-to for execution of online discussion self-grading through employment of a well-crafted rubric in conjunction with the learning management system quizzing tool. We will discuss how we have shared our discoveries and successes of this innovation with others who have in turn gone on to implement it with positive results. Finally, we will share empirical findings from a first-of-its-kind study on learner perceptions supportive of this innovation as further support. Study findings indicate 1) the rubric and self-grading quiz are clear, fair, and easy to apply, 2) learners are honest and use reflection in critical self-assessment of discussion performance, and 3) the rubric and process motivate and assist learners in improving their discussion performance.


Dr. Nancyruth Leibold is an experienced educator with a passion for online teaching/learning in higher education.  She has a special focus on online teaching strategies and instructional technology.  Dr. Leibold teaches in the Department of Nursing at Southwest Minnesota State University

Dr. Laura Schwarz is an associate professor at MSU, Mankato.  She has been a Registered Nurse for over 25 years and has taught in higher education for over 20 years. Dr. Schwarz is passionate about teaching online and use of innovative technology, and has conducted research in these areas.

Presented March 2, 2017 
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation

In this session, educational innovators will share experiences from a Flipped Faculty Institute. Participants in this highly interactive session will identify activities to support active learning inside the classroom, explore tools and multimodal resources to facilitate engagement outside the classroom, and discuss how this model of faculty development could be implemented at your institution. Hamline’s collaborative model of instructional support will highlight the benefits and considerations of sharing expertise and resources. You will hear from a librarian, an academic technologist, an instructional consultant, and a faculty member about how this model leveraged limited resources and can enhance innovation in teaching and learning.


Caroline Hilk serves as the director and faculty development coordinator in the Center for Teaching and Learning at Hamline University in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In this capacity, she consults with faculty on innovative instructional approaches, learning outcomes assessment, and online course design, and oversees university-wide faculty development programming. Dr. Hilk has taught many online and face-to-face courses, including educational and cognitive psychology, human relations, and a first-year seminar on creativity and innovation. She received her BA from Saint Olaf College and her MA and PhD from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Her research interests include effective approaches to team-based learning, development of social presence in online learning environments, and rubric-based measurement of student learning outcomes.

Kate Borowske is the Instructional Design and Marketing Librarian for the Hamline University library, where she works with faculty and students to explore sources that inform and inspire their research and creative work.

Gina Erickson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Criminal Justice and Forensic Science at Hamline University. She teaches quantitative methods, criminological theory, and advises student internships in the capstone course. Gina teaches traditional and hybrid courses and enjoys experimenting with new technologies and teaching tools in class and online. Her teaching goals surround critical thinking and application, and helping students transform from learners to practitioners by using data and knowledge to create a more just society. Gina holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Minnesota, an MA from the University of Iowa, and a BA from Luther College.

Nicole Nelson is an Academic Technology Consultant at Hamline University. She works primarily with faculty to explore ways of utilizing technology in all classroom environments. She also promotes the advancement of learning through the use of emerging technologies. While her focus is on training, her goal is to help faculty and staff understand the “why” of using technology as well as the “how”. Nicole holds a BFA in Art/Graphic Design from Minnesota State Mankato and a MEd. in Technology Education from the University of Minnesota. Prior to working at Hamline, Nicole developed curriculum, conducted technology workshops and taught higher-ed residential, hybrid, and online courses.

Presented February 2, 2017 
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation

In an age of constant distraction, how do we rein in student focus? Neuroscience offers insights into what it takes to create an optimal learning environment. It all starts with learner engagement. In this session we’ll explore the neurobiological underpinnings of attention and address five key strategies you can immediately apply in your eLearning course design.


Tracy King. As Chief Learning Strategist & Founder of InspirEd, Tracy leverages her more than 16 years in the education industry for organizations interested in increasing their relevance and revenue with meaningful live, online, and mobile adult learning programs. Tracy specializes in the intersection of learning science and technology. She's a thought leader in education strategy and learning design. In addition, Tracy offers training to instructional design teams, university faculty, and at conferences to promote leading-edge practices developing learning experiences that make a measurable difference.

Presented on January 5, 2017
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation


The problem with most digital accessibility training lies in the approach: it tends to be presented as a list of instructions for properly formatting headers, images, and other document features rather than as a strategy for including disabled students in the classroom. This subtle difference between the traditional process-centered training framework and the more human-centered one that is the focus of this presentation can make all the difference in trainees' ability to retain and transfer their learning. What’s more, framing digital accessibility with what I call “scaffolded empathy”—a series of increasingly focused opportunities for considering the perspective of the disabled—has the potential to permanently diversify instructors' images of the students for whom they design their courses.


Cynthia Sarver, MET, PhD, is an Instructional Designer and Accessibility Specialist in the University of St. Thomas's Center for Faculty Development. Before UST, she worked as an instructional designer at Syracuse University and a teacher educator at SUNY Cortland, where she spent nearly a decade instructing pre- and in-service teachers in the use of educational technology, project-based learning, and related learning theory. She is deeply committed to supporting all students by promoting inclusive and quality constructivist pedagogy that often involves technology.

Presented on November 3, 2016
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation

As instructional designers and academic technologists, we devote our time to working with faculty and content experts to meticulously design and develop online courses. The student voice, however, is all but absent in this process. We make broad assumptions about who our students are and how they will interact with the environments we design. We create these courses for them, and if they aren’t using them the way we expect, they aren’t doing it wrong: we are. After undergoing usability testing of multiple online course designs, the Office of E-Learning Services, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, gained a better understanding of how students think and operate in our online courses. As a result of this testing, we have implemented numerous changes to our design process, the most important of which is a commitment to building relationships with our students.


Ellyn Buchanan, PhD, is the Learning Technologist with the Office of E-Learning Services, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota. Her interests include design and aesthetics in online education and technology integration. She created and currently manages the Student Advisory Board for Online Learning in the School of Public Health.

Sara Hurley, MFA, PhD, is the director of the Office of E-Learning Services at the University of Minnesota School of Public Health. She is a relentless advocate for putting student experience first and using technology to create better learning experiences.

Audra Kerlin is a multimedia project coordinator with the Office of E-Learning Services at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health. She supervises undergraduate student workers and manages the production of multimedia projects. Her background is in Library and Information Science and she is passionate about digital literacy and user experience design.

Presented on October 6, 2016
Minnesota eLearning Summit presentation