Pre-Conference Schedule and Workshop Descriptions
April 12, 2018

During 30 years of attending workshops, I’ve not spent a more informative, enjoyable, beneficial time than this pre-conference. Time flew. I wasn’t ready to leave. Thank you for the shot in the arm! –Kathy Tyndall, Wake Technical Community College, NC


All Pre-Conference workshops have FIVE things in common:
1) Schedule: 9:00 to 4:30 on April 12, 2018
2) Location: Doubletree Hilton Anaheim-Orange County (conference hotel)
3) Limited Enrollment: Please register early to get the session of your choice
4) The rich experience of working closely with other highly motivated college educators
5) You will leave with practical strategies you can implement immediately with your students


7:00am-8:45am Pre-Conference Check-in and Hosted Hot Breakfast Buffet
9:00am-4:30pm Pre-Conference Workshops
12:00pm-1:15pm Hosted Lunch Buffet
4:00pm-6:00pm Early conference check-in (for everyone)
6:00pm-8:00pm On Course Ambassador’s Dinner (invitation only)


Click below to see descriptions of the four Pre-Conference Workshops in 2018.

Option 1: 1-Day On Course Workshop

OPTION 1: The 1-Day On Course Workshop

If you’re new to On Course, this full-day workshop will provide a foundation to help you get even greater value from your experience at the On Course National Conference. If you’ve already attended the On Course I Workshop (and even the On Course II Workshop), you’ll get a great review of On Course Principles plus a whole new batch of empowering learner-centered strategies to add to your 1-day tool box. If you are interested in experiencing innovative strategies that engage and empower learners across the curriculum, this is the session for you! Led by an On Course facilitator, this is the same 1-day On Course Workshop presented on college and university campuses across North America!

The 1-Day Workshop
Identifying eight qualities that distinguish students who are successful in college from those who struggle.
Defining the characteristics of learner-centered education, exploring the evidence from educational neuroscience and classroom research, and experiencing learner-centered structures and strategies that lead to deep and lasting learning.
Exploring learner-centered strategies that empower students to become responsible, motivated and effective learners who thrive in a learner-centered environment, helping them reach more of their potential in higher education…and beyond.
Developing specific plans to implement one or more of the nearly 100 learner-centered strategies provided in the workshop as well as learning about extensive On Course resources for supporting ongoing efforts after the workshop to improve student learning, academic success and retention.

Option 2: Who’s in Charge? – Empowering Students to Take Responsibility for Their Own Learning

OPTION 2: Who’s in Charge? – Empowering Students to Take Responsibility for Their Own Learning

Most educators agree that we want students to take more responsibility for their own education. However, the moment students enter a class, we hand them a detailed syllabus informing them of required texts and materials, assignments and due dates, and a list of classroom policies and procedures (No late work! No exceptions!). Students leave their first session believing that the instructor is in charge of making all the choices related to their learning and that they are just along for the ride. In this interactive workshop, you will learn strategies for engaging students and empowering them to take more responsibility for their learning from the very first day of class. Instructors from all content areas will learn how to create a “promise syllabus,” give students a voice through “feedback cards,” design and use NQA (No Questions Asked) coupons effectively, and add to your toolbox a host of other strategies that put the reins of learning into the hands of the students.

This workshop will be led by Eileen Zamora. Eileen is Professor Emerita at Southwestern College, CA, and has worked with learners and leaders from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, religious, linguistic, and generational backgrounds for more than 30 years. She has taught English composition, literature, journalism, English as a Foreign Language, and college success skills to students from a wide range of levels, including: middle school, high school, adult school, US Navy Recruit Training Command, and higher education. Eileen is currently an educational consultant/trainer and an On Course facilitator.

Option 3: Increasing Student Motivation

OPTION 3: Increasing Student Motivation

A lack of student motivation has long been the bane of higher education. It not only reduces student learning, it diminishes teacher enthusiasm as well. According to Edward Deci, author of Why We Do What We Do, we can’t motivate our students to do anything; however, we can create the conditions that encourage them to discover their own motivation. In this session, designed for educators across the curriculum, we will examine research-based theories and experience proven techniques that promote self-motivation in students. Best of all, participants will leave with ready-to-use strategies for creating a learning environment that empowers students to motivate themselves.

This workshop will be led by Mark McBride. Mark has taught at Eastern Florida State College (formally Brevard Community College) since 1994. He has as a B.A. in literature (University of North Florida), an M.A. in English (University of Florida), and doctorial work in Composition and Rhetoric (Florida State University). His early instructional emphasis was composition and creative writing; however, since 2004 he has taught—and now coordinates—Eastern Florida’s Success Strategies for College and Life course. In 2008, Mark was honored with Brevard Community College’s Distinguished Educator of the Year award and a NISOD Teaching Excellence Award. He has been a regular contributor to the On Course Newsletter, he is a presenter at the On Course national conferences, and he is an On Course facilitator.

Option 4: On Course Online

OPTION 4: On Course Online

Students (and educators) experience a wide variety of challenges in distance education courses. Some students face technology challenges in submitting/reviewing material through the course management system; some fail to experience community in an online setting; others find it difficult to manage their time with no “scheduled” class, or need more immediate/frequent feedback on their progress on reaching their learning outcomes. Instructor challenges can include: creating effective communication through email or chat room office hours; increased student attrition rates; lack of college resources for technology support; or designing course materials and modes of delivery that address distance learner obstacles and promote student success.

In this active learning workshop setting, educators will explore how to strengthen the competencies of effective online learners, employ best practices in online learning, explore research on the characteristics of online learners, learn how to ensure regular, effective student contact, and strategize methods to more fully engage and motivate online learners.

The solutions educators discover are intended to be implementable across multiple disciplines and distance education settings. The workshop will include problem-based learning; the examination of model distance learning best practices; active learning structures; course design and facilitation tools and strategies; and innovation opportunities focused on the development of new strategies tailored to your student challenges.

This workshop will be led by Dr. Amy Munson and Dr. Jonathan Brennan

Dr. Amy Munson received her B.A in English Education and M.A. in English from Illinois State University, and her Ph.D. in Eighteenth-Century British Literature from Purdue University. She began her career in higher education in 2000 and has been employing On Course for student success initiatives and faculty development since 2009 with an emphasis in online curriculum design. She has taught a combination of web-enhanced, hybrid, and online courses since 2002 using several different learning management systems and is currently on the implementation task team charged with bringing the first learning management system to the United States Air Force Academy. As Dean of Student Success at Heartland Community College (Illinois), she advanced student success curricula and initiatives across the campus by working with faculty, staff, and students to infuse On Course into many aspects of the campus culture. In 2014, she was awarded an On Course Ambassador of the Year Award for her team’s work at Heartland Community College. Presently, she is Director of Instructional Design at the United States Air Force Academy (Colorado) where she works on course design with faculty from many disciplines and collaborates with the Academic Success Center to support students who face obstacles to success. Dr. Munson also works as an instructional design consultant for civilian and military education/training institutions, and has done research on the science of learning and the impact of non-cognitive skills on student success.

Dr. Jonathan Brennan is the former chair of the English Department at Mission College in Santa Clara, CA, and also served as chair of the Student Success, Learning Outcomes and Accreditation Committees, and Vice President of the Academic Senate. His teaching awards include Faculty of the Year (Mission College) a national NISOD Teaching Excellence Award, the Stanback-Stroud Diversity Award (California State Academic Senate) and the state Hayward Award for Excellence in Education. He holds a BA, MA & PhD in English & Ethnic Studies (UC Berkeley), an MA in Psychology (University of Santa Monica) and an EdD in Educational Leadership and Change (Fielding Graduate University). He served on the Academic Senate Distance Learning group, has taught online for over 12 years, and has led multiple workshops focused on best practices in distance education. His publications include two books from Stanford and University of Illinois Press, a student success textbook for high school students, Choosing a Good Road, and an article on student success in the online newsletter, Tomorrow’s Professor (


The pre-conference workshop offered so many valuable and insightful suggestions for actively engaging students in their education. It is wonderful and well worth taking the extra day. I cannot wait to get the rest of the faculty and staff at my college on board.–Valerie Pilmaier, University of Wisconsin-Sheboygan, WI