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Carolina Hosts Second Meeting of Distance Learning Advisory Board
by Shannon McGurk, Director of Distance Learning
Setting Student Expectations for Distance Learning

In August 2017, Carolina held the second annual meeting of its Distance Learning Advisory Board (DLAB). The board met for two days at the Proximity Hotel in Greensboro, North Carolina. Board members included distance learning professionals from various colleges and universities, as well as accrediting organizations..

Top five topics in higher education distance learning

In 2016, the first meeting identified several best practices and ideas for Carolina Distance Learning® (CDL) to become the leader among online science course lab kit providers. Attendees discussed key topics such as completion rates, student engagement, assessment and learning outcome alignment, data analytics, and instructor choice. These trends remain important throughout the higher education distance learning space, and we continue to address them as we develop and improve our labs.

The second annual DLAB meeting began with a tour of the Carolina facilities, including our live biology and mounted slides departments and our distribution center. During the meeting, the board discussed these top five topics in higher education distance learning, all of which CDL will include in future development and improvement plans:

  1. Real-world connections for relevance, citizen science, and inquiry-based activities
  2. Competency-based education and badging
  3. ADA compliance
  4. Student costs
  5. Technology and mobile access
Online education is as effective as traditional education

Presenters Dr. Jennifer McCall (from the University of North Carolina Wilmington) and Louis McIntyre (from Rockingham County Community College) shared data from their experiences with CDL science lab kits. Addressing concerns from some in the academic community that lab science cannot be taught online, Dr. McCall ran a study using our biology kit to determine the effectiveness of online learning in the UNCW RN to BSN program. She found that online education is as effective as traditional education.

Online courses and OpenStax™ books save students money

To reduce rising costs for college students, Louis McIntyre worked with CDL to design a course in chemistry using our chemistry kit and an OpenStax™ chemistry text, saving students as much as $300 on course materials. Mr. McIntyre piloted the course in the fall of 2017 with the goal of making the course a part of the NCCCS Virtual Learning Community (VLC), a collaborative effort of the North Carolina Community College System for developing online course content and providing support services for the benefit and success of distance learning students, educators, and administrators.

We look forward to our third annual meeting in the summer of 2018. Please contact Shannon McGurk, Director of Distance Learning, with any questions.

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