Online Higher Education Examined in More than a Degree: Merging the Classroom and the Real World Conference by Ashford University

Ashford University's 2020 Teaching and Learning Conference Examines Critical Issues in Online Higher Education

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 1, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Ashford University hosted its sixth annual Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) More than a Degree: Merging the Classroom and the Real World on November 3-5, 2020. The virtual conference brought together more than 1,500 faculty, staff, students, researchers, and practitioners from across the United States and abroad for discussions and presentations to develop new ideas for improving online higher education.

Throughout the conference, participants joined three keynote addresses, four featured speakers, six panel discussions, and 120 presenters representing 14 institutions to create actionable ideas that explore the value of traditional liberal arts versus career-focused curricula. These discussions were guided with this question in mind: "Must education in the 21st century take an either/or approach to what will prepare students to be ethical and productive contributors to society?"

TLC's keynote speakers encouraged conference attendees to consider this question with creativity, empathy, and purpose throughout the discussions and panels. Keynote speaker Larry Robertson, award-winning author, strategist, and innovation advisor at Lighthouse Consulting, opened the conference by offering a framework for resiliency through creative experimentation during challenging times in higher education. During his keynote address, Dr. Craig Swenson, President of Ashford University, encouraged conference attendees to consider how education helps to preserve democracy throughout our nation's evolution. Dr. Warren Hayman, scholar, writer, and activist and the coordinator of the Urban Education Leadership doctoral program at Morgan State University in Baltimore; and, Morgan State doctoral candidate Kamaria Massey, closed TLC with a concrete action plan for overcoming implicit bias and creating successful learning environments for students of color.

The conference also featured a ceremony to honor the winners of Ashford University's 2020 Faculty Teaching Excellence Awards, who are nominated by their peers in the department and college leadership. This year's honorees include:

  • Dr. Stephanie Mungle – Center for the Enhancement of the First-Year Experience
  • Kim Kenyon – Department of Education and Liberal Arts
  • Dr. Lauren Hall-Davis – Department of Health Sciences
  • Dr. Heather Frederick – Department of Behavioral Sciences
  • Amine Dehmani – Department of Technology Studies
  • Dr. Millicent Addo – Department of Organizational Studies
  • Dr. David Mackusick – Department of Advanced Management Studies
  • Jerry Spight – Department of Professional Studies

Ashford offers TLC participants and the general public additional opportunities for ongoing engagement with conference presenters and attendees, including an official conference social media hashtag (#ashfordtlc), and insightful content populated on the TLC Thought Leaders Blog. Recordings of each TLC 2020 session also are available on Ashford's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning YouTube page.

About Ashford University
Ashford University is a recognized leader and innovator in distance learning and online education. Ashford is designed to meet the needs of working students, offering programs most often sought by those whose primary educational goals relate to developing professional and career-relevant competencies. Flexible schedules, innovative delivery, and accessible academic support tools help working students balance busy lives with academic studies. Ashford offers associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degree programs. For more information, please visit, or