BGSU online, blended learning gets state attention

BOWLING GREEN, O.—When Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley, Ohio Board of Regents (OBOR) vice chancellor for academic affairs and systems integration, held a distance-learning summit in Columbus in early May, she heard a buzz from other state participants that made her want to visit Bowling Green State University.

“Innovation, collaboration, sustainability” kept emerging as themes when other campuses spoke of BGSU, Gellman-Danley said.

As a result of the summit and ensuing conversations with Dr. Bruce Edwards, associate vice provost for academic technology, who represented BGSU at the meeting, Gellman-Danley and two of her staff, Stephanie Davidson, associate vice chancellor for program development and approval, and Thomas Bordenkircher, associate vice chancellor for academic quality and assurance, visited BGSU July 22.

Hosted by the Office of Academic Technology and the Center for Online and Blended Learning (COBL), Gellman-Danley spoke to various campus leaders about how distance learning can contribute to the University System of Ohio’s strategic plan by providing access to a quality education for students who cannot easily travel to a campus to attend classes due to job or life circumstances.

“BGSU gets it when it comes to serving nontraditional students and meeting their needs, which is evidenced by the programs and student support services available, such as the Adult Learner Services office and the Center for Online and Blended Learning,” said Gellman-Danley.

During their daylong visit, the OBOR contingent met with BGSU President Carol Cartwright and a number of campus personnel to discuss the expansion of distance education initiatives and the innovative use of technologies in teaching and learning.

Gellman-Danley stressed the new opportunities available through the growth of online courses and programs. She also emphasized Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s expectation that campuses will utilize technologies to respond to the needs of students and meet state goals for higher graduation rates and affordability.

Connie Molnar, COBL director, said, “We were honored by Dr. Gellman-Danley’s visit and her interest in BGSU’s distance education initiatives. It confirms that we are on the right track in providing more opportunities for students to achieve their educational goals through the growth of online courses and programs.”

Gellman-Danley has appointed Edwards and Molnar to the Ohio Strategic Planning Committee, which the vice chancellor refers to as “the BIG Idea Group.” She formed the committee to develop a sustainable plan for Ohio to become a national leader in the use of technology to support and improve education.

Edwards said the planning committee is charged with issuing a report and a set of recommendations to the chancellor by the end of this year.

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(Posted July 27, 2009 )