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Experiential Learning at UD

Online Experiential Learning Development Program (OELDP) Faculty Explore Virtual Communities and Technologies to Enhance EL

This Spring, the Offices of Experiential Learning and eLearning collaborated on a pilot program for faculty entitled “Online Experiential Development Program”or OELDP. The goal of the program is to help faculty use best practices to develop online experiential learning (EL) activities for their courses. The 4 session program met from March-April 2021.

Because of COVID-19, many educators have had to rethink and redesign the ways they deliver their courses and programs. The idea for OELDP emerged out of conversations with faculty who wanted to integrate EL in their courses (such as project-based learning, fieldwork research, community-engaged learning, etc.) but weren’t sure what EL could look like in virtual spaces.  

Karen Lovett, Director of Experiential Learning and Paul Dagnall, Team Lead, Instructional Design & Media, co-facilitated the program which included 6 faculty participants from the School of Education and College of Arts and Sciences: Amy Krug (English/Professional Writing) Art Jipson, (Sociology, Anthropology & Social Work), Layla Kurt (Counselor Education and Human Services), Katie Lawless-Frank, (Teacher Education) Connie Mathes, (Teacher Education), and Larry Smith (Educational Administration).  

During the program, faculty were introduced to various EL examples from a diverse group of faculty and staff at UD who have been doing virtual EL for the past year or more. They learned about instructional design best practices and popular tools and technologies for facilitating online activities, meetings, and projects. Participants also had the opportunity to dialogue with community partners from non-profits in the Dayton area, including Cross-Over Community Development, El Puente, and the Dayton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, to help foster partnerships and learn about online community-engaged learning opportunities available to students. OELDP faculty also participated in a session featuring presentations with campus partners from the UD Libraries and the Collaborative Online International Learning program.  

During the final session, faculty presented their proposals for integrating EL into their Fall 2021 courses; each of them presented a unique way of using online tools, resources, to enhance the course and deepen student engagement.  Projects included ideas for connecting schools and community, engaging with local facilities, and creating practical guides on literature, among others.

As a result of the program, faculty discovered value in exploring and participating in virtual communities where students can interact with and learn from individuals with diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and areas of expertise.  Faculty remarked that the program “made me think and begin developing an activity that I think will benefit my students” and “I have learned a lot and this experience has motivated me to pursue other ideas and possibly create an EL based course curriculum as an elective option.” 

The virtual world, particularly during this pandemic, has opened new opportunities for teaching and learning, and made aspects of EL more accessible than ever before. We hope OELDP will continue to inspire innovative, inclusive pedagogies that will guide students through their vocational pathways and prepare them with valuable skills to make a positive impact in the world for the common good. 

Stay tuned for updates on the Fall 2021 OELDP program and application details. Please contact Karen Lovett ( or Paul Dagnall ( with any questions about the program.

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