Nicolet College’s Excellence in Delivering Online Education Takes to International Stage


 Nicolet College’s expertise and effectiveness with online teaching and learning will take to an international stage later this year when college staff will present at the Online Learning Consortium Accelerate conference. 

“We were absolutely thrilled and honored to have our presentation proposals accepted for such a prestigious conference,” said Penny Kuckkhahn, director of Instructional Effectiveness and Flexible Learning at Nicolet. 

“The conference sets the gold standard for advances in online learning and attracts educators from across the world to both share their knowledge and learn about the latest advances in online learning. To be recognized by such a respected education organization speaks volumes about the quality of the online education Nicolet delivers to students.” 

Nicolet’s experience with online education goes back more than a dozen years, with the college being one of the early adopters in the state to deliver college credit classes in a virtual environment. 

Since those early days Nicolet has continuously built on its experience and significantly expanded online offerings, adding programs and fine tuning pieces of curriculum one by one to constantly improve the student learning experience. 

When COVID-19 hit and the campus closed to the public, “this level of expertise and experience made it relatively easy for us to pivot quickly and deliver all curriculum to students online,” Kuckkhahn said. “And from what I’ve been hearing, it was a lot more seamless for us than some of the other colleges.” 

Due to the pandemic, Nicolet will deliver its two conference presentations virtually. More than 1,000 professional educators from around the world are expected to attend the November OLC Accelerate conference either in person or virtually. The conference will be based at Walt Disney World Swan in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. 

In one of the Nicolet presentations staff will detail the process it took to convert a Business Law class to the online competency-based education format and also how to deliver instruction free of textbook costs for students. 

“It all started by bringing together a team of experts from across campus to share their areas of expertise,” said Ellen Mathein, the Nicolet Business Management instructor who teaches the popular Business Law class. 

“One of our top priorities was to make sure the class maintained a human element, that students felt like I was there right their by their side all the way through the class. We felt it was very important to maintain that personal connection and feel and we were able to accomplish that.” 

Along with Mathein, the team that moved the class to an online format included Kuckkhahn; Cindy Domaika, manager of Open Educational Learning Strategies who figured out how to eliminate textbook costs and still provide students with high-quality education materials; Nicolet Librarian Nora Craven; Steve Wallace, architect of Learning and Assessment; and Niina Baum, Social Media Strategist. 

Another big part to delivering top-grade online instruction is selecting the right instructional computer technologies and also knowing how to use them effectively. 

Nicolet Associate Degree Nursing instructor Dilya St. Louis has used and studied this technology extensively and will share her findings during her virtual presentation, Active Learning: It’s Easier to Implement Than Faculty Think, at the OLC Accelerate conference. 

“With online learning booming across the country and recently with campuses closing due to COVID-19, the online learning market is being flooded with different technologies,” she said. 

“For instructors and students new to online learning, it’s easy for them to become overwhelmed. It’s important to make the right decisions when selecting the best technological platforms to meet the different aspects of online learning so both instructor and students can be successful.” 

St. Louis will deliver insight into the products that have worked best for her to deliverexperiential learning and deep content and also inspire reflection and imaginationfor her students. 

She’ll also discuss the value and importance for instructors to build a network within their own disciplines. 

“That professional support system goes a long way when you want to bounce an idea off of someone, try something new, and continually refine your skills to give students the best learning experience possible,” she said.