SMU eNews

SMU Staff and Faculty Present "Creating the Virtual Classroom" at EDUCAUSE Conference

On February 12, Samuel Merritt University (SMU) Assistant Professor Patricia Brennan, Director of Information Technology Blair Simmons, Instructional Designer Ellie Hoffman, and Manager of Information Technology Services Marcus Walton presented at the EDUCAUSE conference.

Their online presentation, “Creating the Virtual Classroom,” addressed the challenge that online course instructors face in reducing the "distance" and creating a truly interactive learning environment.

SMU's staff and faculty participation in this presentation demonstrated how divisions of SMU work together to explore and expand the University's educational repertoire. It also demonstrated that SMU is boldly breaking through the challenges by exploring new techniques to deliver instruction.

“The SMU presentation complimented the conference's theme: Strategic Impact: Partnerships and Value in a Changing World,” said EDUCAUSE’s Susan Henderson. “It captured the essence of the conference by offering a model for collaboration in developing an innovative and effective model for synchronous learning that results in the creation of a social presence. The importance of social presence can not be underestimated when offering distance courses.”

When asked to share their experience in preparing and presenting at this conference, SMU faculty and staff responded with the following:

“Over the years, my involvement with the EDUCAUSE community has provided vast learning opportunities related to emerging technologies in higher education. I was very pleased to be able to give back to the community by sharing SMU’s experiences with synchronous learning.” — Blair Simmons

“The experience working with my colleagues at SMU from Information Technology and Academic Instructional Innovation, both in designing and executing the actual online synchronous sessions for the DNP program as well as leading up to and participating in the EDUCAUSE conference, was outstanding.  The expertise and collaborative effort present among this team reinforces the desire to continue to cross departments in an effort to provide the best learning experiences for our students, while utilizing the most relevant technologies available.” — Patricia Brennan

“Presenting at the Western Regional online conference allowed me to have a better appreciation for the University’s commitment to improve distance learning and collaboration through innovative solutions. A truly rewarding experience to be a part of.”— Marcus Walton

“Our synchronous learning endeavor is a distinct example of this intersection of academic rigor, educational innovation, and pursuit of emerging technologies that lies at the heart of higher education instructional design. I think the success of this experiment and our collective continued efforts to improve and expand synchronous learning at Samuel Merritt University reflects our frustration with existing technologies, our determination to improve the process, and our mutual respect for each other’s areas of expertise. In other words, we have created a strong team that actively pursues innovative education for our students.” — Ellie Hoffman

Click here to learn more about the EDUCAUSE conference.

The session recording can be found here.

Assistant Professor Patricia Brennan
Assistant Professor Patricia Brennan
Blair Simmons, Director of Information Technology
Director of Information Technology Blair Simmons
Marcus Walton, Manager of Information Technology
Manager of Information Technology Marcus Walton
Instructional Designer Ellie Hoffman
Instructional Designer Ellie Hoffman