MA Colleges Online Conference June 2

May 27, 2016

How can colleges support student success in online courses?

That is just one topic to be discussed at Greenfield Community College on June 2 when over 220 educators from Massachusetts public community colleges and universities gather for the 11th Annual Conference on eLearning. Sharing Best Practices, the theme of the conference sponsored by Massachusetts Colleges Online, sums up the work those hundreds of faculty, administrators, and technologists will do during a day packed with presentations and hands-on training. Carlos Santiago, Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education will present the Keynote address.

            Featured at the conference will be the Courses of Distinction Award Showcase, sessions describing online and hybrid courses recognized by the MCO institutions as representing the best uses of eLearning instructional technology to enhance student success. Hybrid courses combine online instruction with in-classroom time. GCC Social Sciences faculty member Linda McCarthy and Medical Office Management instructor Jeanne Dodge will receive Courses of Distinction Awards for courses they teach at GCC: McCarthy for her fully online course Principles of Sociology and Dodge for her hybrid course, Medical Terminology.

            Massachusetts Colleges Online (MCO) is a consortium of Massachusetts Community Colleges and the State Universities of Massachusetts. The conference sessions will address increasing access to higher educational opportunities through online and blended learning and managing the dramatic growth of online and blended programs in Massachusetts public higher education. Conference attendees will also discuss reaching students in new pedagogical ways, meeting the technical demands of eLearning delivery, and the administrative and student services challenges related to online education.

            Lynn Zayac, Director of the Center for Instructional Technology at Westfield State University, is Chair of the MCO Conference Committee. She said, “This conference will pull together the best practices from campuses across the state. Attendees will receive excellent professional development as they learn from each other and will return to their campuses recharged with strategies they can use to improve eLearning at their institution.” 

              Michelle Barthelemy, GCC’s Coordinator of Online Learning & Instructional Technology, worked with the MCO Conference Committee to help them choose GCC as the conference site. 

              The conference attendees will use and tour GCC’s online education facilities, including classrooms equipped with Smart whiteboards and specialized software and the support systems offered to online students. Praising GCC’s online education efforts, Barthelemy said, “GCC faculty are committed to providing students in online courses the same support and attention they receive in face-to-face classes. As in our face-to-face classes, there is an emphasis on engaging students with the course material through interactive activities, online discussions, videos, multimedia material developed by faculty, and more. GCC has been very deliberate about the roll-out of our online courses. Faculty teaching online take the time to learn the software and applications needed to create an enriching experience for students in our online courses.”

            “We are pleased that Massachusetts Colleges Online has chosen GCC as the site for this year’s conference,” said GCC President Bob Pura, “and I appreciate the hard work of Michelle Barthelemy and the conference committee for bringing it to Franklin County. The presence of Massachusetts Commissioner of Higher Education Carlos Santiago as keynote speaker underlines its importance. This is a crucial time to have thoughtful discussions about online higher education. Done well, online education is an important tool for both access and excellence. Measuring the impact of online education is not as easy as some want to suggest, yet it is critical that we do that. Focusing on best practices and challenging ourselves to do it better is at the core of this conference.”

            To learn more about the Massachusetts Colleges Online and the conference, visit

            To learn more about online education at GCC, visit or contact Michelle Barthelemy at


Additional Fast Facts:

Who Takes Online Courses at GCC by the numbers?

In Fiscal Year 2015, 978 students took one or more GCC online credit courses, accounting for 1905 enrollments in online courses.

64% of students taking online courses were female, 35% were male.

48% were 24 years old or younger. 52% were 25 years or older.

53% were from Franklin County.

74% of students who took an online course at GCC in FY15 also took a face-to-face course at GCC

64 online courses were offered at GCC in FY15

Why Take an Online Course at GCC?

Flexibility. For students who work, are taking care of family, or have schedule conflicts with face-to-face classes, online courses are the perfect way to move forward toward educational goals.

 By Mary McClintock, ’82

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