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GCC to Host Massachusetts Colleges Online Conference June 2

GREENFIELD — How can colleges support student success in online courses? That is just one topic to be discussed at Greenfield Community College on June 2 when more than 220 educators from Massachusetts public community colleges and universities gather for the 11th annual Conference on eLearning.

“Sharing Best Practices,” the theme of the conference sponsored by Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO), sums up the work those faculty, administrators, and technologists will do during a day packed with presentations and hands-on training. Carlos Santiago, state commissioner of Higher Education, will present the keynote address.

Featured at the conference will be the Courses of Distinction Award Showcase, sessions describing online and hybrid courses recognized by the MCO institutions as representing the best uses of online instructional technology to enhance student success. Hybrid courses combine online instruction with classroom time. GCC Social Sciences faculty member Linda McCarthy and Medical Office Management instructor Jeanne Dodge will receive Courses of Distinction Awards for courses they teach at GCC: McCarthy for her fully online course “Principles of Sociology” and Dodge for her hybrid course “Medical Terminology.”

The conference sessions will address increasing access to higher educational opportunities through online and blended learning and managing the dramatic growth of online and blended programs in Massachusetts public higher education. Conference attendees will also discuss reaching students in new pedagogical ways, meeting the technical demands of online education delivery, and the administrative and student-services challenges related to online education.

“This conference will pull together the best practices from campuses across the state,” said Lynn Zayac, director of the Center for Instructional Technology at Westfield State University and chair of the MCO conference committee, adding that attendees will learn from each other and return to their campuses with strategies they can use to improve online learning at their institutions.

“This is a crucial time to have thoughtful discussions about online higher education,” said GCC President Bob Pura. “Done well, online education is an important tool for both access and excellence. Measuring the impact of online education is not as easy as some want to suggest, yet it is critical that we do that. Focusing on best practices and challenging ourselves to do it better is at the core of this conference.”

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