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Council for Accelerated Programs Annual Conference: Reflections from a Board Member

By Kevin Ezzell
Director of Accelerated & Graduate Programs, Albright College
Board Member, Council for Accelerated Programs

Leaders from accelerated programs in 17 states and one United States territory convened in Denver, Colorado August 4-6 for the Council for Accelerated Programs (CAP) annual conference.  Having attended a number of conferences focused on adult education, the CAP conference always stands out as one that prioritizes collaboration, where all participating institutions are working towards implementing best practices in accelerated and online learning.

The clear message that I took away from the conference was that accelerated and online learning is a continuously changing environment, one that requires everyone involved to become a generalist.  Whether a director or a dean, you must be willing to learn about a diverse array of topics, including those with which you might have little experience. 

The wide variety of skill sets needed to develop and sustain a high-quality accelerated program was apparent from the opening keynote, delivered by Nicole Foerschler Horn of JMH Consulting. She discussed how to offer effective online experiences to adults, covering everything from website development and responsive design to pay per click advertising.  At one point, Nicole provided a link to check the mobile friendliness of websites and you could see participants scrambling to check how their own sites rated. 

The afternoon plenary session featuring Dr. Ryan Spittal, Olivet Nazarene University’s Vice President for Strategic Expansion, showed participants how some strategic thinking and an operational, ready-to-adapt program can make all the difference in enrollment and retention for accelerated programs.

The following day, Dr. Allison Friederichs closed the conference with a strong presentation on the adult brain and how it learns – critical knowledge for faculty and administrators that work with an adult student population.

The three day event (one day pre-conference/two day conference) also offered engaging break-out sessions, which included: Enrollment Management, Accelerated 101, Faculty Development, Retention Strategies in Accelerated Programs, PLA strategies, and more. 

Most importantly, the conference illustrated how accelerated programs can stick together and work collaboratively to advance the common goal of increasing our nation’s degree attainment level.  Much of the discussion centered on the CAP Quality Standards—nine measures of accelerated program quality developed by CAP in 2011—and how programs can strive to meet these standards.

For those interested in learning more about CAP’s work, CAP will be presenting at the CAEL post-conference workshop in Baltimore, MD on Friday, November 20, 2015. And in summer 2016, the CAP Annual Conference will be held in Austin, Texas. We hope to see your institution’s accelerated program represented at future events.

Council for Accelerated Programs
The Council for Accelerated Programs (CAP) is an international membership organization serving professionals who lead, teach, and conduct research in accelerated programs in higher education. As an advocate for accelerated education, CAP enhances collaboration and shares best practices and research findings among its members to design and deliver the most effective accelerated learning for adult and nontraditional students.

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