The Symposium was a success in its debut in September 2002. More than 100 educators from 22 institutions in the great lakes region attended sessions, listened to speakers, and networked with fellow professionals at the Walsh College – Novi campus.A top-flight lineup of speakers included Mark D. Milliron, Ph.D. President and CEO of the League For Innovation In The Community College, who spoke on making the connection with learners and learning in the 21st century.


Representing a diverse collection of expertise that sparked a lively dialogue, presenters from Michigan, New York, and California provided local and national perspectives on best practices in online learning for the post-secondary educator.

Keynote speaker was Cisco Corporation Senior Vice President Howard S. Charney. The topic of his multimedia presentation was the “Internet, from Optional to Integral.” Mr. Charney explained how the Internet has all the earmarks of a true technological revolution, following the same trends and characteristics as the locomotive and automobile in its growth.

Carolyn Jarmon, Ph.D., of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Academic Transformation in Troy, N.Y., shared exciting outcomes of its Pew Grant-funded course redesign project, incorporating technology, improving quality, and reducing costs. New at this year’s Symposium were hands-on workshops at varying skill levels in the Blackboard and Educator course management tools and the first annual presentation of the Distinguished Online Faculty Award.


For the 2004 symposium we partnered with the Educational Teleconsortium of Michigan (ETOM) and our keynote speaker was Dr. Lisa Neal. Dr. Neal received the 2003 United States Distance Learning (USDLA) award for most outstanding achievement by an individual in corporate e-learning. She holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University and is the current editor-in-chief of eLearn Magazine. The topic of her presentation was Designing the Online Learner Experience, which was presented at the pre-symposium gathering.


The “Best Practices in Online Education” Fall Symposium was held at Walsh College’s Novi Campus in October of 2008.  Almost 100 educators from the Great Lakes region banded together to learn from each other and to discuss how best practices in online education can benefit student and faculty online as technology and economic forces continue to reshape post-secondary education.  The following were the featured presenters:

  • Lou Glazer, President and co-founder of Michigan Future, Inc., discussed Michigan’s transition to a knowledge-based economy and how attracting a younger and well-educated work-force is integral in turning around Michigan’s economy.
  • Russ Carlson, President of Blackboard North America Higher Education, spoke about best practices in online learning, planning for the future by developing a comprehensive strategic plan, recruiting students, and platform security.
  • Attorney Steve Harms, Adjuct Professor at Walsh College, explained copyright law, fair use and the Teach Act as they apply to online learning. 
  • Tom Petz, Director of the Office of Online Learning at Walsh College, and Rose Van Es, University of Phoenix, provided insight on best practices for doing group work online.
  • Roger Bober, President of Leadership Capabilities and the Associate Campus College Chair at the University of Phoenix, hosted a student panel where faculty members could learn what students really want from their online courses.  This session sparked a lively dialogue between students and faculty!
  • Bruce Umpstead, Director of the Office of Educational Technology and Data Coordination in the Michigan Department of Education discussed Michigan’s online learning initiative requiring all students to take an online course in order to graduate from high school.

This year the Distinguished Online Faculty Award was given to Suba Subbaro.  Ms. Subbaro was recognized for her exceptional work as a full-time faculty member at Oakland Community College (OCC) where she has been teaching English online since 1996.  Ms. Subbaro developed the first online writing class at OCC and has made numerous presentations at conferences throughout the United States regarding Distance Learning.  In addition to her contributions at OCC, she also volunteers as a reading tutor with the Oakland Literacy Council.

The Symposium was generously supported by the following vendors: 

  • Blackboard, Inc.
  • Northwood University
  • Teoma Systems
  • U.compass.com/Educator
  • Walsh College

If you are interested in joining the Alliance for Excellence in Online Education, please go to our website and fill out the Membership Application Form.