December 7, 2016

Graduate Alumni Present Research Projects at Prestigious National Online Learning Conference

SUNY Empire Alumna Lydia Rhoades-Brown '88, '15, discusses her research with colleagues at the Online Learning Consortium’s OLC Accelerate 2016 Conference.
SUNY Empire Alumna Lydia Rhoades-Brown ’88, ’15, discusses her research with colleagues at the Online Learning Consortium’s OLC Accelerate 2016 Conference.

Recent graduate alumni Lydia Rhoades-Brown ’15, ‘88 and Rolando Valentin ’16 presented their final research projects at the Online Learning Consortium’s OLC Accelerate 2016 Conference (OLC).

For the first time in the 22-year history of the conference, OLC sponsored a competitive graduate track.

As a result of their selection to present their research as part of the inaugural cohort, Rhoades-Brown and Valentin each received financial support to help defray the costs of participation and travel from both OLC and SUNY Empire State College.

Rhoades-Brown completed a Master of Arts in Adult Learning (MAAL) in 2015 and presented “Collaboration in Online Learning Environments,” her final graduate research project. In 1988, she earned a bachelor’s of science degree at SUNY Empire, where she concentrated in human resource management.

Valentin completed a Master of Arts in Learning and Emerging Technologies (MALET) in 2016 and presented his final graduate research project “Creating the Refocusing Academic Advisement Network.”

Both the MAAL and MALET graduate programs are offered entirely online.

“I was looking for an innovative, quality-driven program when considering my master’s and found both with Empire State College,” said Rhoades-Brown. “Attending the OLC accelerate exposed me to the challenges online educators incur and how the face of education is changing. I was excited to see that my presentation at OLC accelerate generated tremendous interest and subsequent follow-up inquiries.”

“Last month I had the opportunity to attend and present at the international OLC accelerate conference, which was filled with educators looking to ease and provide access to education using technology,” said Valentin. “I could not have been more inspired and humbled hearing people’s ideas, as well as being asked about my own research and advising techniques. I am proud of my accomplishments, but more honored to be given the opportunity to be around such energy and inspiration.”

According to its website, “The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is the leading professional organization devoted to advancing quality online learning by providing professional development, instruction, best practice publications and guidance to educators, online learning professionals and organizations around the world.”

Rhoades-Brown’s submission to OLC was sponsored by Meg Benke, a professor and academic area coordinator at SUNY Empire’s School for Graduate Studies. School for Graduate Studies Associate Professor Eileen O’Connor was her final project supervisor and mentor.

Both Benke and O’Connor sponsored Valentin’s OLC submission.

SUNY Empire’s faculty and professional staff have been leaders in the OLC since its founding in 1992 as the Sloan-C Consortium.

Benke is past president of the board of directors of the Sloan-C. She was first recognized by Sloan-C in 2007, which conferred on her the Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual award for extraordinary qualifications, significant experience, distinguished service and leadership in the field. In 2010 Benke was named to the inaugural class of Sloan-C Fellows.

Jill Buban, OLC’s current senior director of research and innovation, served in the past in SUNY Empire's Office of Academic Affairs as assistant to the provost for online learning and as an adjunct instructor, where she also mentored students.

About Lydia Rhoades-Brown ’15, ’88

An independent human resources professional, Rhoades-Brown’s work has been predominately in the finance industry in Chicago and New York City managing corporate training centers. In addition to acting as a consultant, she designs and develops training programs.

She has extensive experience in face-to-face group training in both technical and soft skills within a corporate environment and has designed an array of training programs for organizations' trainers and staff.

About Rolando Valentin ’16

Valentin currently serves as an academic advisement assistant and undergraduate advisement coordinator for the University at Albany Biological Science Department.

He has been employed at UAlbany for more than 10 years and previously served as a Collegiate Science and Technology Entry Program (CSTEP) academic counselor.

Valentin also completed his Bachelor of Arts in Sociology at UAlbany.

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