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-- Free Event Focuses on Web Accessibility and Technology Training for Higher Education –
HAMBURG, N.Y. – The Fifth Annual Western New York Blackboard User Group (WNYBUG) eLearning Day at Hilbert College is Friday, November 9, 2018. Registration and breakfast starts at 8:30 a.m. with the morning keynote at 9 a.m. Four women leaders in educational technology are hosting WNYBUG eLearning Day – Jenna Dulak, Founder and Co-Chair; Meghan Pereira, Founder and Co-Chair; Ellen Sidey, Founder and Communications Coordinator; and Kristen Flint, Events Coordinator.
The annual WNYBUG eLearning day provides colleges and universities in the Western New York area an opportunity to engage with the community in professional development, networking, and learning about upcoming Blackboard features and enhancements. The events major sponsor and focus is Blackboard Inc., but the event is open to all schools in the area. Many of the sessions relate to all instructional technologies, not just Blackboard.
The full agenda with session descriptions is available on the www.wnybug.com website. You can also download the WNUBUG mobile app to view sessions and additional event information. The event is open to all educators in WNY, but attendees are encouraged to register on the website (https://community.blackboard.com/groups/wnybug/pages/fall-conference).
This year’s theme is web accessibility and defining quality in online education. There will be two keynote speakers from Blackboard. Darcy Hardy, PhD, Associate Vice President at Blackboard will present the opening keynote: Defining Quality – Again – in Online Learning. You'll be hard pressed to find many as experienced in education as Hardy. She has spent more than 25 years in public higher education and received numerous honors for the advances she achieved there. Now she brings her innovative mind and rich experience to Blackboard, leading our team of nationally recognized consulting experts in higher education, K-12, e-learning and distance education, information technology, open source technology, outcomes and assessment, and analytics. Hardy serves on various editorial and advisory boards and is a sought-after thought leader and presenter on distance education, online learning, and leadership.
The afternoon keynote is a panel on web accessibility using Blackboard Ally. Creating more accessible learning experiences for students takes a campus-wide effort. From administrative support to learning technologists to instructors, everyone has a part to play in the inclusive learning journey. Panelists will share their experiences and insights in helping create a culture of inclusiveness, and the ways they are leveraging innovative tools like Blackboard Ally to support instructors and students. John Scott, Ally Community Manager, Blackboard will moderate the panel, which is comprised of local experts in the field: Danyelle O’Brien, Director of Online Learning, Alfred State; Sumana Silverheels, Technology Accommodations Coordinator, Buffalo State College; and Mark Woodard, Customer Support Analyst, University at Buffalo.
“This is an opportunity to provide free training to WNY faculty and staff in higher education. Blackboard has an annual national conference that not everyone is able to attend,” Dulak said. “Our sponsors make it possible to host this event for free. Blackboard is always our main sponsor, but we also have many other sponsors that support us to provide free breakfast, lunch, snacks, promotional items, and a social hour with a raffle.”
The WNYBUG also provides yearly awards to recognize experts in the field. There are two catalyst awards presented at the annual event. This year’s winner for teaching and learning will be presented to Carraugh Reilly-Nowak from Hilbert College, and the award for professional development will be presented to the Monroe Community College – Instructional Design Team: Tom Capuano, Jeremy Case, Andrea Gilbert, and Anjali Parasnis-Samar.
“The BUG is an excellent opportunity for colleagues from different schools to come together, exchange ideas, offer solutions, and share initiatives being enacted at their campuses,” Sidey said. “Frankly, I think we (the co-founders) were surprised by the success of the BUG. After our first conference, we garnered the notice and support of Blackboard directly. That is something I think we are all secretly proud of and we look forward to watching the BUG grow year after year.”
Dulak is the Director of Web Services and Online Technology at Hilbert College. Pereira is the Director of Instructional Design & Training at SUNY Buffalo State. Sidey is the Instructional Design Associate at the University at Buffalo. Flint is the Instructional Design Specialist at Upstate Medical University.
Hilbert College, located in suburban Hamburg, N.Y., south of Buffalo, is a private four-year college founded in 1957 in the Catholic Franciscan tradition. With nearly 900 students, Hilbert is a dynamic Western New York college that offers career-focused majors, including one of the top criminal justice programs in the region, and more than 50 minors and concentrations. The college’s engaging, student-centered campus community offers numerous leadership, internship, and service learning opportunities from which students launch successful careers while making positive changes in their communities. The Hilbert Blueprint promotes a well-rounded student experience over four years – starting with the Foundations Seminar in the freshman year, followed by Sophomore Service, Junior Symposium, and culminating with the Senior Capstone. Hilbert has expanded its academic offerings with the college’s first graduate programs in criminal justice administration and public administration, including a track in health administration.
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