As an online course developer and coordinator for the Department, there are two constants in my worklife: geography and D2L. Of course I have attended geography’s mainstay event, the annual meeting of the Association of American Geographers, several times throughout my years with the Department. I even once attended a local D2L Conference, but never the grand annual event, Fusion. When I learned Fusion 2019 would be held in sunny Kissimmee, Florida, a short hop, skip, and a jump away from my home in Texas, it seemed like the ideal time to go and learn more about my craft. And let’s be honest, having two Universal Studios theme parks nearby sealed the deal for this mom of three.

D 2 L swag
D2L Fusion 2019 swag!

When I arrived at the Gaylord Palms Resort where the conference was held, I was immediately impressed by the venue (they had live alligators living in the atrium!) and soon realized that the same energy that went into selecting the location carried through the entire conference. Our swag bag included all things moose–D2L’s mascot in homage to the corporation’s beginnings at the University of Waterloo in Canada. Seeing an attendee wearing moose antlers was nearly as common a sight as seeing one wearing a conference lanyard!  

Fusion 2019 opened with D2L’s Teaching & Learning Advocate and resident funnyman Barry Dahl introducing the founder, President, CEO, and founder, John Baker, who gave us a look at the evolution of teaching and learning, where we have been, where we are at now, and where he sees it going in the future. A key theme of his talk, and really the entire conference, was making connections between student learning and professional life. Technology is transformative, and learning in an online platform should be suited and cater to learning at all stages of life. He also addressed the large number of skills students and professionals are required to have today, while pointing out that the hard skills needed today will inevitably change, whether it’s tomorrow, next year, or ten years from now.     

In the two days I was there I made the most of the sessions offered to attendees and will share just a few highlights here. I learned more about D2L’s rubrics tool and how it has been updated to improve evaluation and grading of submission folders (Rubrics and Learning Outcomes Made Easy); listened to a unique perspective on how we, as instructors, can present ourselves to students in a more meaningful way (Forget the Syllabus: Why We All Need a User Manual); and discovered how Kaltura MediaSpace, the video portal used at MSU, has made it even easier to capture dynamic and interactive videos for use in our online classes (Bringing Interactivity to Educational Video).  

I want to personally thank Dr. Alan Arbogast and MSU-GEO for giving me the support needed to attend this conference; its relevance rivals only geography in terms of my professional development and, more importantly, ability to better educate undergraduate students and advise graduate students. Apart from the knowledge I gained, I also made important connections with other D2L users and expect to gain even more from those relationships moving forward.

By Juliegh Bookout, onGEO & GEO at Michigan State University
Edited by Meredith Bieber, Michigan State University

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