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This week I wanted to take a look at the United States Distance Learning Association and their upcoming 5th Annual Conference that is scheduled for May 1st-4th in St. Louis, Missouri. I have found that their goals are similarly aligned with my own: we both seek to provide leadership for the advocating of distance learning, and see the potential behind well designed online courses and the flexibility they provide, as opportunities for improving the way students and professionals are learning in the 21st century. In a time of mobile technology, social networking, and a world that beckons us to embark on a lifelong journey of learning, distance learning is what bridges the gap between all of these concepts and helps facilitate the evolution of learning.

What I like about the USDLA is their ability to keep moving forward and provide instruction for proven techniques for effectively implementing new technologies within a learning environment. For this conference the USDLA is bringing together some of the best educators across the country to teach you exactly how to do this and provide the initiative and support necessary for making it happen. This association understands that quality is of the utmost importance in distance learning programs, and they will not leave you ill-equipped to handle the challenges that you may face when implementing your own initiatives. Some of the sessions I am looking forward to include: Future of Work, Distance Education and Society – Technological Transformations, Social Networking for Professional Development, and Raise Online Retention Using Wikis and Blogs as Interactive Tools. I’m interested to see what best practices will be discussed, and how they see the future of learning being shaped by new technologies and pressures from the changing workforce.

I, too, will have the pleasure of being able to present at this conference. My session, Micro-Collaboration: Team Sharing with Instructors to Build Highly Interactive Activities, is taking place Monday, May 2nd at 4:30PM. I encourage you to join me and participate in the conference if you are available. Hope to see you there!

To get more information on the conference, please visit the 2011 USDLA 5th Annual Conference website.