The Sessions We Won’t Miss at the PANACEA 2021 Annual Conference

by Daniel Murphy and Kristina Wilson

Next week, the Distance Learning team will attend the Pan-American Continuing Education Association (PANACEA) 2021 Annual Conference. While we are excited for the keynote speakers, poster gallery, and network meetings, we were particularly thrilled to see these often-neglected distance learning topics on the list of concurrent sessions. 

Starting off our list of must-sees is this gamification session. It sounds like the team at Meles College has really thought about immersive learning strategies as they share takeaways from their innovative approach to engagement.

Digital BADGErs: Incentivizing Student Participation in Remote Learning through Gamification

To incentivize student participation in remote learning, Meles College implemented the Digital BADGEers Program in Spring 2020. Participants in this program play the role of a badger (the beloved school mascot) in a virtual environment where they can engage in various activities such as burrowing, hunting small rodents, or scent marking. Each participant’s avatar, known as a BADGatar, may be personalized — including its gender, allowing the student to become a boar or a sow. Through active participation in remote classes, students gain digital badges to level up in the game environment from cub to juvenile to adult. An analysis of participation rates and student feedback will be presented.

Canvas who? The next presentation we’re really enthusiastic about reimagines the learning management system (LMS) entirely through the lens of active learning and peer-to-peer communication. How did Ringdove College transition successfully away from a more traditional digital platform to one that supports creative exchange?

Columba Livia Domestica as an Alternative Distance Learning Platform

Ringdove College sought to decrease the school’s IT support and infrastructure expenditures by maintaining a flock of Columba Livia Domestica, commonly known as “messenger pigeons.” With the CLD platform, USB drives containing digital course materials are carried by pigeons from the roost on campus to students’ homes. Students can submit papers and assessments using the same avian platform. Some limitations of this technology; all discussions must be asynchronous and instructor feedback is not always timely. However, student and faculty survey results suggest that the latency in the system provides time for deeper reflection and more thoughtful responses. 

Finally, the session we are the most curious about is this state-of-the-art holistic approach to direct learning from the thought leaders at River City State University. This emerging teaching and learning approach could very well be the next approach to ungrading.

The “Think Method”: An Alternative Pedagogical Approach for Accelerated Learning with Minimal Instructional Time or Resources

The Coronavirus pandemic has stretched faculty and administrative resources to their limits. In response, the leadership of River City State University sought a new way to serve their students through an alternative pedagogical approach known as the “Think Method” or TM. Originally developed in the early 20th Century specifically for music education, RCSU has now applied TM to a wide variety of curricula. With TM, there is no consideration of seat time, contact hours, or learning resources. Instead, students are encouraged to simply envision themselves performing the course learning outcomes. While accreditors were initially skeptical of TM, affective gains by individual students have caused them to reconsider this pedagogical approach.

We hope you will join us at the conference next week! (April Fool’s!)


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