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Five Minutes with ACHE

  • July 06, 2015 3:27 PM | Anonymous

    When she came into the Dean’s office, the student was confrontational right from the start. “I’m not learning a thing in this course. The teacher is not giving me the responses I need.”

    Sound familiar? I suspect many similar incidents are being played out around the world, particularly with adult learners in an online course. There are many possible ways to address this kind of situation, but one of the most important is to be sure that students understand the learning model that your school is providing. This will help get students on your side and increase retention.

    Many, if not most, online schools have adopted some form of what is broadly known in educational theory as “constructivism,” the idea that students construct their own knowledge of the subject matter through a variety of interactions, including diligent self-study of texts and peer-to-peer learning. Constructivism contrasts with the so-called traditional learning formats that put greater emphasis on transferring knowledge from teacher to student.

    Although your school may not have consciously decided that you will follow a constructivist model, it’s likely that you have the basic elements of it already in place in your online courses. For example, in many schools it is decidedly a negative if the instructor provides too much in the way of hints to difficult questions in assignments. The same kind of consideration applies to discussion questions. The best discussion questions do not have definitive answers; they are meant to provide learning opportunities by encouraging interpretation, sharing of prior knowledge, and having students participate in challenging academic argumentation.

    When students start by complaining they are not being given the right responses it may be a sign their expectations are not in line with the learning model you are providing. While I personally believe (as my co-author and I state in our book) that students should be exposed to the theories behind the practice of online education, there are plenty of ways to get students on your side simply by telling them truthfully what kinds of learning opportunities they can make in your online classrooms, particularly through discussions. Some language you might adopt: “Meet students from all over the world. Exchange ideas and perspectives. Learn from your fellow students with backgrounds in healthcare, science, social work, psychology, business, education and more. Develop career-boosting learning partnerships and friendships online. Hone the group project skills you will need for professional success.” I think you will find that students will not be disappointed if you build up these kinds of expectations. In all the classes I have taught students uniformly placed discussions as the most enjoyable and worthwhile aspect of the course (way ahead of the textbook and the instructor).

    In short, students are less likely to complain if they know what kinds of learning methods and challenges they will face. You can get them on your side by clearly explaining what you have to offer – and that may not be your subject matter expertise so much as their opportunities to build their own knowledge.

    - Anthony Birch, Ph.D.


  • June 29, 2015 1:26 PM | Anonymous

    Regis GilmanDear ACHE Colleagues,

    Good morning from the beautiful Eastern Illinois University campus in Charleston, Illinois. As the month of June ends and July approaches, I wanted to reach out to the membership with some critical updates about the results of the ACHE 2015 Elections and the 2015 Conference in St. Louis, Missouri.

    Firstly, I wanted to express my deepest appreciation for all of the candidates who ran for ACHE national leadership positions. Although only one candidate for Vice President and three Board of Directors could be selected, all of the leaders on the ballot showed great enthusiasm to continue their dedicated support for the association.

    It is with great pleasure that I announce the newly elected Vice President and Members-at-Large for ACHE:

    Vice President:

    Bill Boozang, Associate Vice President and Dean, Online & Continuing Education at Newbury College


    Tim McElroy, Dean of the Muskogee Campus at Northeastern State University

    Amy Johnson, Director, Quality Enhancement Plan at East Tennessee State University

    Patti Spaniola, Continuing Education Program Director and Meeting Planner at University of West Florida

    We welcome the new members of the Board and Vice Presidency and we are honored to be guided by the visionary leadership, devotion, and origination that they offer to the association.

    In addition, the ACHE Conference Planning Committee has been hard at work setting the intricate foundation for the 2015 Annual Conference and Meeting which is taking place at the luxurious and unique Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri on November 9-11th.

    Recently, the concurrent sessions, workshops, and roundtables have been announced and I am proud that we have such an excellent and informative conference in store for you. The conference offers an array of professional development presentations that span the gamut of continuing higher education topics: credit and non-credit programming, competency-based education, online learning, adult student programming, continuing education marketing, technological disruption, higher education partnerships, degree completion, and much more. I encourage you to take several minutes of your day today to review the conference schedule and determine which sessions apply directly to you. By discovering these appealing professional development opportunities, I hope that you will make plans to join the new leadership of the association at the annual conference.

    View the schedule here. 

    Thank you for all that you do in our field, and I hope that you have a great 4th of July weekend.

    Regis M. Gilman
    ACHE President, 2015

  • June 22, 2015 10:39 AM | Anonymous

    As the summer solstice shines down on the Northern Hemisphere, gears turn at ACHE. Recently, the schedule for the 2015 Annual Conference and Meeting was released, detailing an excellent series of presentations ranging from workshops to concurrent and round table discussions. 

    While reviewing the schedule, several presentations caught my interest. Firstly, I noticed a concurrent session titled "Improving the Recruitment and Success of Underrepresented Populations and Veterans through Continuing Education." The description reads: 

    "The dramatic shifts in regional demographics and workforce employee demands have highlighted the need for colleges and universities to better utilize their strategic enrollment management (SEM) techniques with their continuing education programs. By providing a series of best practice initiatives, the round table presenters will highlight successful recruitment and program completion techniques for targeted student populations. The roundtable will provide specific SEM planning tactics for serving underrepresented, working adult, and veteran students."

    This presentation is promising. It includes some of the core concepts in ACHE: non-traditional students, enrollment, and strategic recruitment initiatives. I would very much like to attend this session. What's more, the presenters of the session are from St. Louis University which is located roughly four miles away from the St. Louis Union Station Hotel, our conference site. It is exciting to consider that continuing education professionals from the surrounding region will be attending the conference. This will undoubtedly enrich the learning and networking atmosphere. 

    Another presentation that I found interesting is titled "Conversations with Editor of JCHE." JCHE stands for the Journal of Continuing Higher Education. The description is as follows: 

    "The Journal of Continuing Higher Education (JCHE) is a refereed journal published three times a year featuring major articles and shorter columns of professional interest. The journal is sponsored by the Association of Continuing Higher Education. This session is with the Editor to discuss how to publish and what to publish. Participants are encouraged to bring any ideas they would like to consider for publication or give feedback to the Editor about the possible content."

    This session is extremely interesting to me because I currently serve as the Managing Editor of a peer reviewed education journal. I  would love to hear more about JCHE's editorial leadership and how they oversee the editorial process. The digital version of the Journal of Continuing Higher Education can be accessed by ACHE members  here:

    I encourage the reader of this blog to view the entire conference schedule and find interesting and relevant sessions and presentations. The schedule can be found here:


    Stan Khrapak
    Operations Associate
    Association for Continuing Higher Education

  • June 15, 2015 2:30 PM | Anonymous
    ACHE’s exciting Summer Webinar Series is back and we are happy to announce that our next webinar will take place on June 17th at 2:00 pm CT.

    The webinar is titled ‘From Inputs to Outputs: Education to Employment.’

    Webinar description:

    This session explores how discussions about educational outcomes have become increasingly focused on career outcomes, with resulting new responsibilities for colleges and universities to foster work readiness and employability. En route, we’ll seek to identify the role of collaboration between institutions of higher learning and employers in realizing these sorts of outcomes, and consider diverse opportunities for partnership that can enhance outcomes for students, employers, and institutions. Supporting this analysis will be a summary of a small number of cases of institutions employing work readiness approaches in non-traditional student contexts.


    ACHE Member Registration – Free
    Non-Member Registration – $30

    Click Here to Register 

    Presenter Biography:  

     Peter Stokes
     Managing Director, Huron Consulting Group

    Peter works with college and university leaders to assist them in setting strategy to support institutional differentiation, growth, expansion, and improved performance. He has worked with hundreds of institutions across the U.S. and globally to support their efforts to reach new audiences and achieve compelling student outcomes by focusing on work readiness and employability, competency-based education models, online learning, adaptive learning, geographic expansion, internationalization, and non-traditional student markets.

    In order to prepare for this webinar, I felt that it would be a great idea to reflect on one of last year’s excellent summer webinars. Last June, Leah Ben-Ami from Northeastern University and Amie Ader-Beeler from Southern New Hampshire University presented a compelling webinar for ACHE. It was titled ‘Making Your Mark in Continuing Education.’ Their presentation was insightful, informative, and was well organized.

    89 continuing education professionals from across the United States and Canada registered for the webinar, and Leah and Amie did a wonderful job, as did the Technitian for the webinar, Tim Harper at Northeastern University.

    To view a full recording of ACHE’s last June Webinar, follow this link:

    We hope you register for the first installation of this year’s Summer Webinar Series – remember to register now because only about thirty registrations are left as of 6/15/2015.

    ACHE thanks Peter Stokes for his participation in our 2015 Summer Webinar Series. Visit the Huron Consulting website at


    Stan Khrapak
    Operations Associate
    ACHE Home Office

  • June 08, 2015 10:49 AM | Anonymous

    Event Name: ACHE South Regional Conference 

    Institutional Representative: Patti Spaniola

    ACHE: What event did you attend and how was it unique?
    Patti: The ACHE South Region Conference was held in New  Orleans, LA which was the location of the inaugural ACHE South Conference nearly 57 years ago. 

    ACHE: What were some of the highlights of the event? 
    The conference had 3 informative keynote speakers. Dr. King Alexander, President of LSU, stressed the importance of investing in our next generation. He suggested that we, as continuing educators, involve ourselves in our communities to get people engaged and educated. Reaching out to students as young as kindergarteners to show students what higher learning institutions can do for them. Let me know that an education costs and how that is translated to future potential and financial worth. Dr. Bill Watson, Associate Professor of Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University discussed the idea of unbundling education. If we focus on skills and competencies, students can use what they are learning as they progress towards a degree rather than waiting for completion to find employment. Allowing students to combine classes from different degrees to form a specialized educational experience would benefit the student and employers. In addition, he discussed the value of badges that would help students build certifiable skills while learning that are easily understood by employers. Ms. Melinda Stallings, an expert in Industrial and Organizational Psychology gave an engaging presentation based on her book, The Power of Positive Conflict Resolution. Her book was hot off the presses arriving from the publisher the evening before her talk. Everyone in the audience received an autographed copy. 

    There were 22 concurrent sessions throughout the conference ranging in topics from badge implementation to improving student support by understanding how students learn to opportunities for adult learning in many capacities. 

    ACHE South welcomed six educational sponsors who added a wonderful dimension of cutting edge information and support for continuing education programs from registration systems to workforce course programs to proctoring services. They each spoke to the group and all expressed how they considered ACHE South to be family. 

    Passing the Gavel 

    ACHE: What did you take away from the event? 
    Jam packed with education, networking, and fun exploring New Orleans, many attendees thought the conference was educational, inviting, and had the quality of a national event. The time flew by visiting with friends, discussing new ideas, and exploring New Orleans. 2016’s conference in Charleston, South Carolina can’t come soon enough.

    Lori Eggleston Thorp Mini Grant Award

  • June 01, 2015 11:39 AM | Anonymous


    Institutional Representative:
     Amy Barsha, Executive Director

    ACHE: Tell us something unique about your institution’s history or the history of your department.

    AB: 2014 was a transformational year at Governors State University. Building on more than 40 years of academic excellence, GSU became a full-service university. Starting with the fall 2014 semester, GSU transformed from an upper division university that served transfer undergraduates and graduate students to a comprehensive public university that serves all levels, from beginning undergraduate to doctoral degrees. With the arrival of freshmen came many other exciting changes: new housing on campus, new programs of study, a new athletics program and the opening of the renovated science wing in E and F buildings, just to name a few.

    ACHE: Are there any recognitions or awards that your university would like to share?

    AB: * Designation as Military Friendly Institution

    * ACE gave the 2014 Donna Shavlik Award to Governors State University (IL) President Elaine P. Maimon​, a longtime leader in strengthening higher education through inclusion and diversity. More information on link below.

    * April 14 marked a significant milestone in the history of GSU Athletics, as the university was accepted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).

    ACHE: Are there any programs that your unit is working on that you would like to share?

    The Knowledge Exchange (TKE) at Governors State University (GSU) is a continuing education program at the School of Extended Learning. Designed for the retired and semi-retired, this lifelong learning program meets on Fridays during 8-week long fall, winter and spring sessions offering full length courses as well as workshops and Lunch and Learn presentations.
    Courses are non-credit and peer led by a team of dedicated volunteers made up of community members, GSU faculty and alumni. A volunteer Advisory Committee made up of Exchange leaders and students assists in overseeing the curriculum and sustaining quality programming. Topics vary according to course content and include: History, Science, Law, Liberal Arts, Current Events, Music, Philosophy and Special Expertise with lively discussions not only in the classroom but during the lunch period which serves as a great time to enjoy lunch with other Exchange students, continue classroom discussions and share other classroom experiences.
    Participants of The Knowledge Exchange enjoy a relaxed and friendly environment on the GSU campus and have formed a community of shared learning, social interaction and the free exchange of opinions and ideas.

    Visit TKE at

    ACHE: What are some goals that your unit wants to reach in the future? (New expanded Markets or Programs ect…?)

    AB: Fully functional testing center for students and community members

    Use technology as a tool in GSU’s overall efforts to create a virtual public square that serves our regional community

    Act as an economic catalyst in the region

    To learn more about ACHE’s excellent institutional members, visit

  • May 31, 2015 11:29 AM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)

    Each year, eligible ACHE members in good standing vote to select new leadership for the association. Each eligible member will receive a link to their ballot by email on June 1, and voting will be open June 1 to June 15.

    Our outstanding slate of candidates for Vice President and Directors at Large is as follows. Click on each candidate's name below to read more about them

    Candidates for Vice President

    Candidates for Directors at Large (three positions open)
    Questions? Contact Ynez Henningsen at the ACHE Home Office at 405-325-3599 or

  • May 15, 2015 3:50 PM | ACHE Home Office (Administrator)
    Regis GilmanDear ACHE Colleagues,

    I’m back on campus now, and while still spinning about from my whirlwind travels, I am honored to be sharing the amazing stories of the experiences and conversations I had at our Spring Regional Meetings with my campus colleagues. The networking, the content of sessions, and the pride in what we do and how we are making a difference in our communities is so very evident throughout ACHE. South Boston, Virginia; Franklin, Massachusetts; and New Orleans, Louisiana will always hold fond ACHE memories for me!

    As we gather with our students for their Spring commencement ceremonies, whether in person or virtually, we hear of changed lives. We see examples of students who - despite huge obstacles - stood the course to achieve their academic goals. We see examples of the miracle of a University library actually showing up inside one’s computer! We see examples of graduates who began the journey because another person nudged them, and now they realize what it means for themselves. We see examples of children standing tall, congratulating all of the graduates at a reception for the hard work, the long hours, and for being a role model to everyone around them. So, again, know that you are making a difference, a huge difference for generations to come, in your communities and around the world through the outstanding work that you do.

    Nominations for the ACHE Board of Directors and for the Vice President of the Association have closed and the Executive Committee has approved an outstanding slate representative of the strong servant leadership of ACHE. More information along with the slate of candidates will follow in the next couple of weeks and voting will open on June 1, with a link to your ballot coming to your email inbox. Visit the candidate profile page here for information on the future leadership of ACHE. You’ll be impressed!

    And finally, ‘Mark your Calendars to Meet me in St. Louis’! The 2015 Conference Planning committee has been hard at work and if you've not seen it, please visit our conference website at It’s not too early to register for the conference and make your hotel reservation, and both are open. Our exhibitor partners have already begun to register, as have members from around the country.

    I look forward to our next conversation…

    Regis M. Gilman signature

    Regis M. Gilman
    ACHE President, 2015 

  • May 11, 2015 1:00 PM | Anonymous

    Advances in technology unequivocally change the ways that adult and non-traditional learners access higher education services. As mobile devices with internet access become more accessible, older students are regularly seen working on school projects on trains, planes, and in coffee shops. Although the ability to access a syllabus, turn in a paper, or comment on a discussion board is helpful, I believe that these online services prove inadequate in today’s rapidly changing world of distance education technology. The new age of mobile application technology can allow students to not only access the right data, but also the right people. Mobile technologies can allow adult students to speak face-to-face with counselors, student service officers, and even special program coordinators.  

    According to the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, nearly two-thirds of American cell phone users now use their phone to go online. Accordingly, 57% of all American adults are mobile internet users (Duggan & Smith, 2013). What’s more, a range of tablets and smart watches are expanding the ability of adults to access the internet – and learn remotely.

    Despite these findings, Ranieri and Pachler argue, “
    …to date relatively little systematic research has been done on mobile learning in the context of adult education and lifelong learning” (Ranieri & Pachler, 2014, p. 62).

    Because the majority of American adults now have the ability to access the internet through their mobile devices, it is imperative for higher education institutions to actively research and utilize people-centered mobile learning applications specifically tailored for non-traditional learners.

    Greater investment in mobile learning applications for non-traditional students can strengthen the relationships between online learners and higher education institutions. For instance, innovative mobile applications that compliment enrollment, counseling, and academic services can improve communication pathways between distance learners, their instructors, and the institutional administrative staff.

    For example, in my experience as an adult graduate student, I often wished to speak to my academic counselor. However, the only way to officially communicate with this counselor was to schedule a face-to-face interview. Often, our schedules did not align. It would have been convenient to have the option to schedule a video conference through a streamlined, school-sponsored application on my mobile device.

    As mobile technologies become more universal, higher learning institutions must stay relevant and connect with their adult and non-traditional audiences through next generation mobile learning applications. Moreover, institutions should consider research in mobile learning technologies, their efficacies, and utilities to be top priorities.  

    Duggan, M., Smith, A. (2013). Cell Internet Use. Retrieved from:

    Ranieri, M., Pachler, N., (2014). Inventing and re-inventing identity: Exploring the potential of mobile learning in adult education. Prospects, 2014, Vol.44(1), p. 61-79

  • April 22, 2015 12:46 PM | Anonymous

    The Association for Continuing Education held five distinct regional meetings this year: Great Plains, MidAtlantic, West, and New England. These meetings provided excellent professional development opportunities for continuing education professionals. Fortunately, I was able to attend the ACHE Great Plains meeting in Des Moines, Iowa and I had the privilege of collaborating with a diverse group of colleagues. The following reflection will detail my experiences in Des Moines.

    An animated group of continuing education professionals from Oklahoma, Kansas, Iowa, and Missouri met in Des Moines, Iowa on March 5th and 6th to participate in the ACHE 2015 Great Plains Regional Conference. The theme for the conference was “Continuing Education: Unique Approaches in Unique Settings.” The conference was hosted by Upper Iowa University, a pleasant campus near the heart of Des Moines.

    Though the wintery weather made travel difficult, individuals were glad to arrive to the conference after long layovers and flight cancellations. Luckily, both keynote speakers and the vast majority of registrants were able arrive to Des Moines on time.

    The conference began on Thursday, March 5th with breakfast and an introduction from Dr. Nina Barbee, Chair of the Great Plains Region. Additionally, Dr. Kurt Wood, Provost of Upper Iowa University, warmly welcomed the conference attendees.

    After the introductions, Mr. Ron Crouch, Director of Research and Statistics of the Kentucky Education Workforce Development Cabinet gave the first keynote address. Mr. Crouch emphasized the ways that continuing education is influenced by the dynamics of demographic and economic trends. Dr. Crouch presented an array of data as well as some excellent online resources for professionals to use when conducting research for program development.

    Following the opening keynote, the first and second concurrent sessions commenced. Presenters gave engaging presentations on topics that emphasized the cost evaluation of marketing for workforce programs, adult learner programming design and implementation, and continuing education community partnerships. The conference registrants expressed that they enjoyed the informative sessions and followed each presentation with meaningful discussions about the subject matter.

    Upon completion of the concurrent sessions, the conference audience met in the luxurious Sheraton West hotel for reception and dinner. The evening event was exquisite and provided an atmosphere which was conducive for networking, merriment, and conversation.

    Dinner ReceptionOn Friday, March 6th the group met again at Upper Iowa University for breakfast. Following the meal, Dr. James Pappas, Vice President for University Outreach and Dean of the College of Liberal Studies gave the second keynote address. Dr. Pappas detailed the history of continuing education and provided valuable insights into the future of the field.

    Pappas Keynote

    After Dr. Pappas’ speech, the third concurrent session commenced. Presenters gave presentations on fostering growth for outreach sites and gave examples of how to successfully partner with businesses in order to increase enrollment.

    Following the last concurrent session, the ACHE Great Plains Award Ceremony began. Dr. Robin Plumb, Assistant Professor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University and Chair of the Great Plains Award Committee presented the award winners with commemorative plaques to celebrate the success of the excellent programs. The winners were as follows:

    Exceptional Program Award – Noncredit
    Northeastern State University Community Music Academy
    Dr. Eloy Chavez, Dean, College of Extended Learning, Northeastern State University

    Chavez Award

    Exceptional Program Award – Credit
    Collaboration for Change
    Dr. Marthann Schulte, Associate Professor of Education and Coordinator of Online Faculty Evaluation, Park University

    Exceptional Program Award – Conferences
    National Symposium on Student Retention
    Sandra Whalen, Program Administrator II, Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, University of Oklahoma

    The conference concluded with the Annual Regional Business meeting. Great Plains members planned for the future and settled budgetary and logistical information.

    Overall, the meeting was a tremendous success and we want to thank all of the attendees for sharing this rewarding experience. We also want to extend gratitude to our generous sponsors: Sustainable Business Education, MBS Direct, and AVISO.

    I hope that by sharing my experience, you will be inspired to attend an ACHE Regional Meeting in your area of the country in 2016.  If you are in the West Region, be sure to sign up for the ACHE West Regional Coffee Breaks coming up in May and June!


    Stan Khrapak
    Operations Associate
    Association for Continuing Higher Education
    Norman, Oklahoma

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