Letter From the Editor

Trends I'm Following this Month

Professional Development – Is it time to refresh your skills?

Summer is upon us and it’s a good time in the academic year to pursue professional development activities. No matter your field of study or employment, continued training and education will almost certainly be required.

You may have the opportunity to attend a workshop, take an extra class, or attend a conference. But there are also low- and no-cost ways to pursue professional development on your own. What are the latest books in your area of study? Is there an online community with an active forum sponsored by an organization in your field? Look for web-based and local learning opportunities, as well as those offered by your college or university, and create your own professional development program.

This month I am completing a Canvas Certification Course with the University of South Florida. My hope here is to learn more about this learning management system and ways to improve the learning environment I provide for students. This course puts me in the role of an online student, which is helpful not only for new faculty, but also for those of us who have been teaching for a while. In July I’ll be completing training as a Certified Career Coach, so I’m also getting ready for that.

What can you do? Whether you are an educator or a student, identify at least one way you can further develop a current skill or begin learning something new over the next few months.

Online Education in the News

As the presidential candidates on both sides continue their campaigns, higher education is one of the issues we should all be following closely. As Boston.com points out, the various platforms range from free tuition for all to the possibility of drastic changes to the Department of Education. Topics of debate include tuition rates, student loan payback plans and interest rates, and availability of federal aid. While the election is still five months away, it’s wise to start following the education plans, if you aren’t already. The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators provides a closer look at the Democratic candidates’ higher education proposals, noting that the Republican candidate has not released a formal plan.

Conference Updates

In June I’m attending the National Career Development Association Annual Conference (June 29 – July 2). With a theme of “Fostering Well-Being Through Meaningful Work,” career counselors and coaches from the US and international locations will come together at this event to share their work and explore professional development opportunities. Follow #NCDAChicago.

New Media Consortium Summer Conference (June 14-16): The NMC is a community of colleges, universities, museums, and research centers the encourages innovative and creative approaches to learning around the globe. Keynote sessions will focus on games and digital play, and managing tech related chaos and disruption. Follow #NMC16.

MoodleMoot US (June 21-23): Does your school use the Moodle learning management system? If so, this event is dedicated to making the most of this open source platform. Educators in K-12 and higher education, as well as corporate trainers, will share their Moodle expertise, ideas, and examples. Follow #MootUS16.

Here are some of the ideas I explored last month by following the Association of Talent Development’s conference hashtag:

#ATD2016: Association for Talent Development (ATD) Conference

  • Leadership (and so many other work-related skills) take practice. – @stipton We aren’t going to be expert teachers, students, leaders, managers, artists, etc. overnight. And it’s not going to happen after taking a few courses. We have to keep at it and keep learning, and allow ourselves to be novices and apprentices.
  • Innovation and learning require a certain degree of failure. – @atd This reminder is always appropriate in education, and the classroom (online and on campus) offers probably the best environment for testing new ideas, practicing skills, and applying new techniques, not all of which will work as expected the first time
  • You can learn anything, if you identify helpful resources and try. Make the most of things like YouTube, open access tutorials, library services and more to explore a new interest or augment materials in a class you are already taking.

Don't Miss!

Watch for these upcoming events and deadlines.

FAFSA Deadline (June 30)

The Federal Financial Aid form has a deadline of June 30th, but your school may have related deadlines that occur before this deadline. Check with your academic advisor and financial aid office to make sure you are on track with your application and understand what is required of the process.

Academic Calendar Deadlines

Fall Registration

It may not seem like it now, but the fall semester is right around the corner. If you are an online student, it’s likely your courses will roll through spring, summer, and fall with little break. Fall term course schedules are now be available for start dates in August and September, so get registered now before the spaces fill up – even online courses have enrollment caps. Check with your academic advisor as the summer begins!

More from Melissa Venable

ELearn Magazine

  • Can Snapchat Bridge the Communication Chasm in Online Courses? With Jon Ernstberger, LaGrange College
  • Managing the Flow of Information in Social Networks: How Do You Do it? With Amy Hilbelink, Laureate Online Education
  • Editorial Advisory Board, Higher Education Column

The Career Network Newsletter

Bimonthly columnist - Social Media and Your Career

Career Convergence Web Magazine

Tech Tips column, Coordinator and Contributor

Educational Technology and Change Journal

Contributing Author

Where can you find Melissa

Presentations (conferences)

  • National Career Development Association, Annual Conference, 2016
  • Online Learning Consortium, 2016

Online courses she’s teaching

  • Saint Leo University - School of Education and Social Services
    • EDU 577 Project Management for Instructional Design
    • EDU 544 Graphics and Design Concepts in eLearning
  • University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee - College of Education
    • EDF 6284 Problems in Instructional Design for Computers

Links to past presentations

  • National Career Development Association - Annual Conference
    • Taking the Next Step with Twitter: Tips for Live Chat Participation and Moderation
    • Map Your Social Media Strategy: Beyond the Big 3, with Debra Osborn, Florida State University
  • The Online Learning Consortium - Annual Conference/Accelerate
    • Snapchat: Bridging the Communication Chasm in Online Courses, with Jon Ernstberger, LaGrange College
    • Other Duties as Assigned: Defining the Role of Instructional Designer in Higher Education, with Amy Hilbelink, Laureate Online Education
  • TCC - Technology, Colleges, and Communities - Online Conference
    • Help Wanted: Instructional Design Jobs in Higher Ed
    • Conference Engagement Through Social Media and Digital Badges: Why is Social So Special?
  • Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education Virtual Conference
    • Help Wanted: Instructional Design Jobs in Higher Ed
    • Can Existing Quality Guidelines Inform Faculty Participation in Online Course Design? With Amy Hilbelink, Laureate Online Education

About Melissa Venable

Melissa Venable

I entered the field of instructional technology in 2004 as a doctoral student with a background in academic advising and career counseling. My professional goals included finding better ways to provide online students with the support required for success in their courses and after graduation. Since that time I’ve worked as an instructional designer and project manager developing new online courses and assisting faculty members with the creation of online versions of their on-campus courses. As an adjunct instructor in the field I am continuously engaged in the latest topics and learn a great deal from my students in the process.

Through the Center for Online Education I am privileged to serve in the role of education editor. This venue allows me to curate the best possible resources for current and prospective online students in the areas I am most committed to improving - online education and career development. Our focus is not only on highlighting the advantages of online learning, but also providing you with the data you’ll need to make the most of the opportunities available and plot a successful course toward your goals.

If you are new to online education and college decisions, our Inside Online Learning resources are designed to help you understand how it all works from admissions and funding to technology and participation. Use this section of the site to assess your readiness for online education and set realistic expectations about what it will take to graduate.