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UNC CAUSE 2021 — Virtual but Valuable

Attendees and contributors: Daniel Davis, Marty Dulberg, Cathi Dunnagan, Jakia Salam, Jessica White, Sarah Weatherman, Bethany Smith, Jenn Scoggins

was held during a two-week period between Oct. 5 – Oct. 14 and was attended virtually by a number of DELTA members. While previous UNC Cause conferences have been held in person, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic required the pivot to a completely virtual setting for a second year. The session offerings were varied with a number of topics geared toward a wide range of higher education professionals, including customer support and engagement, information security and compliance, infrastructure and operations, innovation, leadership and professional development, and teaching and learning.  

The conference featured a keynote by Jia Jiang, the owner of Rejection Therapy, a website that provides inspiration, knowledge and products for people to overcome their fear of rejection. He is also the CEO of DareMe, a company that teaches people to become fearless through rejection training.

DELTA’s Interim Vice Provost Donna Petherbridge co-presented with a panel of NC State leaders including College of Sciences Director of IT Debbie Carraway, NC State Libraries Associate Director for Digital and Organizational Strategy Jill Sexton , and Chief Information Security Officer Mardecia Bell to discuss “Moving Up,” the concept of moving into a leadership position. Within this presentation, reasons behind the desire to advance were discussed, as were the concepts of professional and personal obstacles met along the way, including ways to overcome these barriers. It showcased the way that the panel of amazing leaders have been able to achieve ongoing success in their positions.

The NC State community was strongly represented by DELTA staff who actively engaged in a number of the sessions, provided valuable feedback and insight, including several sessions hosted by fellow NC State colleagues. 

In the session “Computerized Formative Assessment,” several members of the NC State community including Henry Schaffer, Karen Young, Maria Gallardo-Williams, Zakiya Leggett and Lori Petrovich discussed the creation of a computerized, individualized formative assessment methodology called “FormAssess” that can provide assistance for students who encounter difficulties in achieving required learning outcomes, despite having the required ability. Learning objectives were aligned to each question, and automated feedback was attached to each error, providing students a personalized method of feedback that detailed what they could do to improve. Not only did students with lower grades improve significantly, students also noted that it helped them improve their own ability to learn.

The session “Amplifying Chemistry Curriculum with Adaptive and Personalized Learning Courseware” by Kiran Budhrani and Garvey Pyke illustrated that adaptive learning does not go in a single direction, but is a multi-directional network with a flexible pathway. The courses involved were developed by the UNC System Course Enhancement and OER Collections project across the UNC System, designed to provide alternative online learning materials to students to support prerequisite knowledge review and problem-solving in chemistry. Some of the challenges included large classroom size, inhibiting personalized feedback, and that the limited time was prohibitive. Modules, learning path, and course map were created in Realizeit, and the resulting student survey showed that satisfaction increased for mastery, content and practice, and that overall students were satisfied with the experience.  

While there is no doubt the NC State attendees missed the in-person networking and collaborative opportunities that have been present at previous UNC Cause events, the virtual version this year still allowed a significant sharing of ideas and showcased some of the amazing work that has transpired over the last year, and was most certainly a benefit to the attendees.