As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, we have been carefully monitoring the situation as well as the response of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and our member institutions. While no formal travel bans within the United States are currently in place, some organizations are recommending the cancellation or rescheduling of group meetings. Additionally, many institutions are banning non-essential travel. Given these parameters, we made the difficult decision to deliver the 2020 QM West Regional Conference online rather than onsite in Fullerton, California.
We understand that some may be disappointed in this decision. It is always an enriching and rewarding experience to bring the QM community together face-to-face. However, the health and safety of our community have to be our top priority.
The online conference will take place on the same day as the original conference — Friday, April 3, 8:30 a.m. PT - 5:00 p.m. PT. All previously-planned presentations will be available virtually, including Dr. Melody Buckner’s keynote. And a networking room will be open during lunch. We fully anticipate that the online conference will provide attendees with the “aha” moments and critical insights that they have come to expect from a QM conference.
Hosting an online conference also provides us the potential to educate more individuals and institutions who can benefit from our community’s extensive experience in online learning. As institutions across the globe grapple with the best way to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, many are turning to — or considering a turn to — online education, a modality that may be new to some institutions or their faculty.
Delivering a face-to-face class online to support academic continuity is not the same as creating fully online courses. However, the depth and breadth of knowledge gained by QM members over nearly two decades of designing and delivering exemplary online learning experiences can assist others as they determine the best path forward. We hope many will tap into the QM community and its resources by attending the online conference. QM’s Director of Research and Innovation Bethany Simunich along with Penny Ralston-Berg, an instructional designer for the Penn State World Campus, will present, “Top Tips to Quickly Transition F2F Courses Online in an Emergency Response Situation.” We will also hold a Town Hall meeting where participants will have the opportunity to share challenges and solutions related to assuring continuity and quality for students.
It is also important to keep the conversation going. Online learning is a viable option, not just in times of emergency, but always. Research has shown time and time again that online learning can be just as effective and impactful as the face-to-face experience. Let’s hope that, while born from necessity, this increased interest in the online modality continues to flourish, with more and more institutions creating online pathways to success for their students.
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