Session 5

Not-So-Distant Education: Sparking Connections with Online Students at the Program Level
Presented by Karen Kellison, Michele Estes, and Rich Ingram

The Educational Technology Master’s program at JMU has just completed its first year of offering a completely online, distance program. Enrollments in fall 2011 tripled over the previous two semesters combined. The faculty involved in this program has extensive experience in developing and implementing online courses, but have come to understand that a successful online program does not happen by default when you combine a group of courses offered at a distance. At a program level, what makes a successful and quality distance education experience? How do we encourage student involvement and self-directed learning in the program, encourage ‘water-cooler’ discussions, ensure opportunities to benefit from speakers and expertise in and around the university? In this session, the Educational Technology faculty and distant graduate students will engage participants in the discussion of sparking and feeding connections between and among faculty and students in a distance education program. The use of social media, online office hours, interactive class sessions, peer review, video conferencing, video ‘sparks’, key program assessments, online collaboration with authentic clients, and online access to on-campus events will be discussed and demonstrated.

Dr. Kellison has a combined 24 years experience in K12 teaching and administration and higher education.   She earned a doctorate in Educational Psychology with an emphasis in Instructional Technology from University of Virginia and is licensed as a Division Superintendent in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  Her higher education experience includes teaching educational technology and leadership courses for Virginia Commonwealth University, University of Richmond, and is entering her fourth year with James Madison University.  Dr. Kellison is Director of the Educational Technology master’s program at James Madison University.  Her interests are in the application of technology to improve access and learning for all including:  mobile technologies for learning; games, simulations, and virtual worlds; and online design and implementation.


Dr. Michele Estes has worked in the field of instructional design and technology for the past 18 years in corporate, state and higher education organizations.  At the IBM U. S. Education Media Center she coded electronic, educational texts for publication and worked in corporate television.  After earning her Master of Education degree in Instructional Technology, she engaged in statewide, higher education initiatives involving faculty technology training, faculty professional development and design of the pilot eCore online curriculum for adult learners.  At the University of Georgia, she was an Instructional Design Consultant for faculty and later, the Coordinator for Multimedia Design and Development for numerous, faculty-initiated research and grant projects across campus.  Dr. Estes earned her PhD in Instructional Technology at the University of Georgia and moved to James Madison University where her scholarly interests relate to the design, development and diffusion of technology innovations for underrepresented and under-served populations.  Dr. Estes is a founder of the Class of 2013 peer mentoring program for underrepresented students in Harrisonburg.  She teaches a variety of technology courses in the Learning, Technology and Leadership Education department in the College of Education.  For more information, visit


Dr. Ingram joined the Ed Tech faculty as a full-time member in January of 2011. He has served as the Coordinator for Technology and Special Projects for the College of Education and as the Director of the JMU/Microsoft Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2005-2009). In 2007, the NETS-T Certification program he designed and implemented in collaboration with the Shenandoah Valley Technology Consortium (SVTC) was awarded ISTE’s Seal of Alignment. From 2008-2010, he served as the Technology Advisor for the development of a series of rich-media websites in partnership with the JMU Institute for Innovation in Health and Human Services (IIHHS) and the Virginia Department of Health. His research interests include e-books and e-readers, the creation of original digital content for education by teachers and students, and using artificial intelligence for knowledge discovery and optimization. Dr. Ingram’s areas of specialization include performance certification, media creation, machine induction, video production using mobile devices, and rich-media web design and development. Dr. Ingram holds a PhD in Instructional Systems Design from Indiana University (Bloomington).

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