Reflections on the 2017 QM Connect Conference

by Kristina Wilson and Reba-Anna Lee

Introduction

The 2017 Quality Matters Connect Conference was held between September 24th and 27th in Fort Worth, Texas. Two representatives from the Distance Learning department attended and gave presentations on Quality Matters topics, all the way from 1.9 (“Learners are asked to introduce themselves to the class”) to 8.4 (“The course design facilitates readability”). Read on to learn more about their experiences and lessons learned.

Reba-Anna Lee, Director of Online Program Development

Presenting: As a long time member of the Quality Matters community, I was delighted to attend this year’s conference. I did two presentations, served as a poster judge, and attended several sessions.

My first presentation was a Quality Talk was twenty slides in five minutes in a PechaKucha format. The topic I covered was different types/styles of  Course Introductions for instructors and students.

My second presentation was Re-imagining the 5 W’s: Online Course Quality and Alignment, which was focused on how to make course alignment transparent to the students in a course. This presentation was originally developed with Elizabeth Lemke for dual presenters. It focuses on how to show students the alignment between learning objectives/course content/ course assessments. The presentation included the use of PollEverywhere.com and a small group activity.

Krissy Wilson, Learning Designer

Presenting: I presented at last year’s Quality Matters conference in Portland, Oregon, so I was eager to join the QM community again this year for great discussions on quality and camaraderie between instructional designers, faculty members, and administrators. This time around, I chose a different presentation format. Rather than facilitating an interactive 45-minute presentation, I chose to give a Quality Talk, where the speaker shows 20 slides in 5 minutes. Did you do the math? That’s 15 seconds per slide, fewer than a PechaKucha presentation!

To suit the presentation type, I chose a pretty visual topic: Creating Readable, Accessible Visual Design That Meets Standard 8.4. This standard is about readability, a critical element of accessibility. I began with the value proposition. Why should this be important to you? Attention to readability in course design will make the course easier to navigate for all students, and particularly students with disabilities. It is also quickly implemented on any LMS. Please feel free to download my slides for a closer look at how to accomplish that: with slick, adaptive banners (described with alt-text, of course), organizing with headers to create a hierarchy, choosing colors wisely to promote reading stamina and support students with low vision, respecting white space, providing landmarks, and other strategies. As a final takeaway, I reminded attendees that readability is not strictly related to how text is presented, but how it is composed.

Attending: I attended a few excellent presentations, but I had the privilege of moderating Teaching in the Tower of Babel: Creating World Language/English Language Learning Activities by Jolene Montoya, Curriculum Manager for Idaho Digital Learning; Kim Wray, the Director of Extended Learning at Williston State College; and Greg Rockwood, Course Development Specialist for Idaho Digital Learning.

The presenters used H5P to create interactive slides that they shared with the group early on. After sharing learning objectives and a brief, pre-recorded video, they directed us to spend a few minutes individually exploring digital language learning elements used to teach reading, writing, speaking, and listening. Then, they quizzed us using the collaborative game Kahoot. Next, we broke into small groups to try developing a digital language learning element ourselves. As we finished our quick, rough projects, we shared links on a collaborative Google Doc and gave brief presentations to our peers. Check out the Quizlet I made diagramming terms for Cuban food in English and Spanish.

Although the Quality Matters rubric is not designed for face-to-face interaction, other conference presenters led sessions on just that topic and I could see how Jolene, Kim, and Greg took it to heart. This presentation was well balanced, providing opportunities for learner-to-content, learner-to-instructor, and learner-to-learner interaction. We participated in individual, small-group, and whole-group activities, and used technology to thoughtfully implement the learning objectives. I left more knowledgeable on the topic, but also feeling accomplished, digital takeaway in hand. Bravo!

Conclusion

Did we pique your curiosity? Check out the database of conference presentations for slides and handouts, and mark your calendar for next year’s QM Connect conference in St. Louis from October 31st to November 3rd, 2018!



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