November 23, 2023: USDLA NEWS National Distance Learning Week is around the corner: Nov. 6-10

Happy Tuesday, USDLA friends! We are excited to bring you our 16th annual National Distance Learning Week presentations, Nov. 6-10.

We have added three new sessions, including:

  • Monday 3-4pm: Gaining the Competitive Edge with AI-Powered AV Solutions, with presenter Charlie McCarrel
  • Wednesday 1-2pm: Navigating the AI Education Space: Incorporating AI Into the Learning Environment, with presenters Amrit Ahluwalia, Asim Ali, and Frederick T. Wehrle
  • Thursday 1-2pm: Data Justice, Data Rights and AI Ethics, with presenters Kae Novak and Farah Bennani

Scroll down to learn about all of the NDLW sessions and speakers. Click here to register for NDLW 2023.

Click here to register for this week’s Free Friday Webinar — October 27: 1-2pm Reducing and Responding to Microaggressions in Distance Education, with presenter Tish Wade-Gallon:

And there’s more!

We’ll be back in touch on Thursday with our USDLA Brief. —  Valary Oleinik, chairwoman of the USDLA Events Committee and NDLW 2023

Monday, November 6, 3-4pm

Session: Gaining the Competitive Edge with Cutting-Edge AI-Powered AV Solutions

Presenter: Charlie McCarrel, Technical Director

About the session: Discover how Huddly is challenging the conventions of video conferencing to solve distance learning challenges. We will discuss why AV is becoming the big differentiator in education, why schools that rely on cheap webcams are not enough to fulfill the needs of today’s tech-savvy students, and how AI-driven innovations like Huddly Crew transform education.

About the presenter: Charlie joined Huddly in August of 2021 as Technical Director for the Americas. Before coming to Huddly, he worked as Sales Engineer for the Western US at Mersive Technologies and has been a expert in the industry for over 20 years with an audio and acoustics background. His current focus is on video and collaboration technologies in telemedicine. In his spare time, you will find Charlie attempting to cook and spending time with his three kids. He is based in Southern California.

Register here:

Tues., November 7, 1-2 pm EST

Using AI and Hard Data to Teach Soft Skills

Presenter: Scott Provence, MA, MFA

About this session: Ask ten people to express empathy, and you will get ten different answers. How can we expect Artificial Intelligence to teach us about something we can’t even agree on ourselves? Perhaps you’ve struggled in the past to justify the ROI of a soft-skill training program. Or perhaps you’ve had groups push back on virtual role-plays. In this session, you’ll journey from the evidence-based shores of clinical psychology to the new frontier of Large Language Models as we uncover new AI-powered conversation tools. You’ll see real-world examples of how machine learning can help us standardize how we use communication skills for talking to customers and to each other.

About the presenter: Scott Provence, MA, MFA, is a health-tech leader and content developer whose print and web-based curricula serve millions annually. Scott has worked in the public and private sectors, creating federal education programs and leading L&D teams from small startups to Google. He founded Versant Metrics, whose award-winning algorithm empirically measures how well caring gets communicated in a conversation.

Register here:

Tues., Nov. 7, 3-4 pm EST

Uncovering the Potential, Realities, and Future of Generative AI through Research

Presenters: Dr. George Veletsianos, Canada Research Chair in Innovation Learning & Technology, Royal Roads University, and Dr. Cristi Ford, VP of Academic Affairs, D2L

About this session: While much has been said and written about Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) in education, systematic investigations about its use are slow to emerge. The Canadian Digital Learning Research Association recently surveyed 438 administrators and faculty across 126 Canadian institutions to gauge their perspectives on generative AI. This webinar will present findings and provide a space for an expansive discussion. Findings reveal that AI policy development in Canadian higher education is nascent. AI use appears to be inconsistent and primarily experimental, driven by individual faculty yet supported by some institutional initiatives. While respondents believe that AI offers potential and may become a staple in higher education, they note that its value hinges on multiple factors and are concerned about its biases and limitations.

About the presenters: 

Dr. George Veletsianos (Γιώργος Βελετσιάνος) is a professor in the School of Education and Technology at Royal Roads University, where he holds the Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology. His research agenda focuses on designing, developing, and evaluating online and blended learning environments, studying learning experiences and participation in emerging online environments, and learning futures. Learn more:

Dr. Cristi Ford is a Vice President of Academic Affairs at D2L. She has over 20 years of experience in higher education, secondary education, project management, program evaluation, training, and student services. She is a tireless advocate for quality online education and has helped institutions build capacity to launch and expand online programming through effective faculty development, instructional design, and pedagogical practices.

Register here:

Thursday, Nov. 9: 3pm Eastern/2pm Central

AI: The Impact on Higher Education

Presenter: Dr. Robbie Melton

About the Presentation: Dr. Robbie Melton will highlight and showcase how artificial intelligence will impact various areas of higher education.

She will:

  • Demonstrate AI’s power to advance research through modeling and data analytics while discussing chatbots and their benefits for student support.
  • Share innovations in AI music and the arts that are transforming creative fields.
  • Emphasize the need to develop these technologies with diversity and cultural perspectives in mind while outlining AI’s vast potential.
  • Stress that to realize AI’s benefits, its applications must be inclusive and accommodate varied cultural learning needs and styles.
  • Address the importance of promoting diversity among AI researchers and developers to help guard against unconscious bias.
  • Describe the transformations AI may bring, from improving teaching to pioneering new research frontiers.
  • Highlight the fact that responsible, people-centered development is key to ensuring AI transforms in higher education for the betterment of students and society.

About Dr. Robbie Melton: As Interim Provost/VP of Academic Affairs and VP of Technology Innovations for the SMART Global Technology Innovation Center and tenured professor at Tennessee State University, Dr. Melton serves as a global researcher and international consultant for Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Education and Emerging IOE (“The Internet of Everything”) Smart Mobile Technology of mobile devices, smart phone-tablets, wearables, smart gadgets and tools, and mixed reality of VR and AR. She formerly served as the Associate Vice Chancellor for Emerging Technologies for the Tennessee Board of Regents and the primary developer and chief administrator for the system-wide Regents Online Degree Programs. Her tributes include The 2023 Top 50 Women Leaders in Education, the 2019 USDLA Hall of Fame, the 2018 Distinguished Women of Legend, the 2017 OLC Leadership, the 2016 WCET Lifetime Achievement, the 2014 Top 30 Technologists, the 2013 Apple Distinguished Educator, 2012 Top Fifty Technology Innovator; and 2012 WOW EdTechnology Awards.

Register here:


Register today:

Reducing and Responding to Microaggressions in Distance Education

October 27: 1-2pm

Presenter: Tish Wade-Gallon

About the Webinar: Remote learning has undoubtedly positively impacted educational equality and inclusion. As our classrooms have become more diverse, discrimination may not be as blatant (or even intentional) as it once was. In the 21st century, conscious and unconscious biases are commonly displayed as microaggressions.

What you’ll learn: Microaggressions are covert derogatory offenses directed at a marginalized group member. Over time, being on the receiving end of microaggressions can negatively impact students and/or faculty’s mental health. This interactive workshop will provide a safe space to discuss the various types of microaggressions in distance education. Practical strategies and interventions aimed at decreasing such occurrences will be shared.

Dr. Tish Wade-Gallon has over 20 years of experience in distance learning and curriculum development. Her industry experience includes higher education, human services, and executive coaching. Dr. Tish is known to collaborate with people and programs to align their strengths with larger goals and initiatives. Her work focuses on supporting the professional development of facilitators, educators, and health-focused leaders. These experiences benefit Dr. Tish in her current roles at TLC Life Plans and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, where she leads efforts such as the Health Communicators Early Career Initiative, Formal Mentorship Program, and Pathway Achievement Series. Her passion for empowering others has led her to facilitate workshops nationwide. She has been an honored recipient of the Excellence in Education Award and the Rouche Award by The League of Innovation for these efforts. Her long-standing involvement with the University of Michigan’s Atlanta Alumni Association and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Incorporated will not surpass these accolades. Dr. Tish holds degrees in Psychology, Organizational Management, and Education. She continued her commitment to learning by recently becoming a DiSC-certified facilitator and completing a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Certificate from the Muma College of Business.

Register for the Oct. 27 webinar: