Pre-Conference Workshops

Tuesday, February 13

The Inn at Virginia Tech and Skelton Conference Center

The full-day Pre-Conference Workshops provide participants with the opportunity to develop new skills, learn new ideas, network with colleages, and create new approaches to teaching and learning. The full-day Pre-Conference Workshops will be led by experienced teachers and experts in the field.


The full-day Pre-Conference Workshops consist of a morning session and an afternoon session. When participants register they select a morning and an afternoon session to attend (seating is limited).

8:00 - 9:00 am                        Sign-in and Light Breakfast Available

9:00 am - Noon                      Morning Workshops

Noon - 1:00 pm                       Lunch

1:00 - 4:00 pm                        Afternoon Workshops

4:00 - 6:00 pm                       Reception

Registration Fee

The registration fee for the full-day Pre-Conference Workshop is $250.00 before January 15, 2018 and $300 on January 15th and after. This fee is payable at time of workshop registration and includes both a morning and afternoon and an afternoon workshop, breakfast, lunch, and reception.  

Please note: There is not a half-day or single workshop option.


Morning Workshops

[For session details and presenter bios, click to expand the box below]

workshop1 watson

W1: Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Workshop to Designing Better Classes

Eddie Watson, Associate VP for Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives with the AAC&U  

workshop2 whitehead

W2: Integrative Global Learning: Strategies and Practices for Integrating Global Learning into Curricular and Co-Curricular Experiences to Enhance Student Learning

Dawn Michele Whitehead, Senior Director for Global Learning and Curricular Change with the AAC&U

workshop3 vaz

W3: Place-Based Learning: Engaging Students in Authentic Projects

Richard Vaz, Director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning

workshop4 mindfulness

W4: Expanding Mindfulness Pedagogy in Undergraduate Education

Alan Forrest, Pat Shoemaker, Angela Cardenas from Radford University

Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Workshop to Designing Better Classes

Presenter: Eddie Watson, Associate Vice President for Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U)


  • Participants will be able to leverage what research tells us about learning to develop lessons for their courses.
  • Participants will possess new strategies for designing and developing effective and meaningful course activities.
  • Participants will leave this workshop with practical ideas and developed strategies they can implement in their classes once they return to their campus following the conference.

Workshop Description:

In recent years, there has been an acceleration in the number of research findings regarding human learning and cognition, but these findings often are not easily translated into classroom practice.  Evoking the plethora of research-based best practices detailed in Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Classes (Jossey-Bass, 2017), this hands-on workshop will provide new insights into how we learn as well as practical advice regarding how this information can be applied in the college classroom.  New twists on well-established course design models will be provided.  From this foundation, participants will explore a range of instructional strategies that will result in greater student achievement of articulated learning outcomes.  Many of the strategies explored in this workshop ultimately support best practice in flipped classrooms; however, cognitive wrappers, homework logs, just in time teaching, feedback strategies, sequence and failure, inventive recall approaches, emerging learning technologies, and true integrative learning are among the topics that will be additionally explored.  Participants are encouraged to bring syllabi and other course related materials with which to work during this session.  Participants can expect to leave this workshop with strategies they can use in their classes once they return to their campuses the following week.


C. Edward Watson: Dr. Eddie Watson is Associate Vice President for Quality, Advocacy, and LEAP Initiatives with the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and formerly Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at the University of Georgia. Dr. Watson is nationally recognized for expertise in active learning, classroom practice, course design, faculty development, student learning outcomes assessment, ePortfolios, open education resources, student success, and as a futurist for higher education.  He has taught at the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels, is a Fellow in UGA’s Institute of Higher Education, and is the executive editor of both the International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education and the International Journal of ePortfolio. He was recently quoted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, New York Times, CNN, NPR, Campus Technology, EdSurge, and University Business Magazine regarding a range of current and emerging issues and trends in teaching and learning in higher education.  Dr. Watson co-authored/co-edited three books published in 2017: Teaching Naked Techniques: A Practical Guide to Designing Better Classes (Jossey-Bass), Playing to Learn with Reacting to the Past:  Research on High Impact, Active Learning Practices (Palgrave MacMillan), and the Field Guide to ePortfolio (AAC&U).

Integrative Global Learning: Strategies and Practices for Integrating Global Learning into Curricular and Co-Curricular Experiences to Enhance Student Learning

Presenter: Dawn Michele Whitehead, Senior Director for Global Learning and Curricular Change, American Association of Colleges and Universities

Workshop Description:

In this interactive workshop, participants will examine the value and importance of global learning for students, explore ways to integrate global dimensions into their courses and prepare students for life and work in today’s society. Participants will draw on their own experiences and disciplines and identify ways to connect in-class and out-of-class experiences that allow students to  apply and practice global learning skills. By the end of the workshop, participations should have new ideas for course revisions and/or the creation of new courses with greater integration of global perspectives.


Dawn Michele Whitehead is the Senior Director for Global Learning and Curricular Change in the Office of Integrative Liberal Learning and the Global Commons at AAC&U.  Dr. Whitehead’s work focuses on advancing practices, strategies, and projects for integrative global learning across the undergraduate curriculum. Her work combines an emphasis on thematic local and international experiences to provide students with globalized learning opportunities throughout their educational experiences to prepare them to function and thrive in the modern world.  Whitehead also collaborates across AAC&U to advance global learning. 

Prior to joining AAC&U, Whitehead served as the Director of Curriculum Internationalization with teaching responsibilities in the Global and International Studies program at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI). Whitehead was the faculty director for international service learning programs in Costa Rica, Ghana, Kenya, and Swaziland, and her research evolved from a focus on education and educators in Ghana to the impact of service learning on students and community partners. Whitehead also utilized interactive videoconferencing as a tool to infuse globalized experiences for students on campus. As a campus leader, Whitehead facilitated interdisciplinary campus initiatives and professional development around global learning, internationalizing the curriculum, and international service learning. Finally, Whitehead guided efforts to assess global learning for students engaged with both local and international communities and for students participating in classes on the IUPUI campus and abroad.

Whitehead earned her B.A in History and Afro-American Studies, her M.S. in International and Comparative Education, and her Ph.D. in Education Policy Studies with a concentration in African Studies and a minor in International and Comparative Education from Indiana University Bloomington.

Place-Based Learning: Engaging Students in Authentic Projects

Presenter: Richard Vaz, Director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning

Workshop Description:

Project-based learning can develop a wide range of skills related to research, problem solving, communication, and teamwork. When those projects take place in authentic settings, students develop intrinsic motivation to develop solutions to problems that suit the needs of stakeholders and communities.  This workshop will provide a framework for project-based learning in authentic settings, as well as examples of such projects and research-based evidence of their impacts.  Participants will engage in a project-based learning exercise that will illustrate ways to scaffold open-ended project work with intermediate assignments, prompts, and feedback, and we will discuss challenges such as teamwork and resources. 


Richard F. Vaz is the inaugural Director of Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Center for Project-Based Learning, which provides support to colleges and universities looking to implement or enhance project-based learning.  From 2006 to 2016 Vaz served as WPI’s dean of interdisciplinary and global studies, overseeing WPI’s Global Projects Program, a worldwide network of 46 centers where more than 900 students and faculty per year address problems for local agencies and organizations. His interests include experiential and global learning, sustainable design and appropriate technology, curricular reform, and institutional change. He has authored over 70 peer-reviewed or invited publications and directed student research projects in 14 locations worldwide, including Australia, Hong Kong, Italy, Ireland, Namibia, Puerto Rico, and Thailand.  From 2004 to 2010 he was a senior science fellow of the Association of American Colleges and Universities.  In 2016 he was awarded the National Academy of Engineering’s Bernard M. Gordon Prize for Innovation in Engineering and Technology Education.

Expanding Mindfulness Pedagogy in Undergraduate Education

Presenters: Alan Forrest, Pat Shoemaker, Angela Cardenas; Radford University

Workshop Description:

Mindfulness practice is an experiential mode of learning and self-inquiry. It is the intentional attending to what is happening in the present moment without judgment or reactivity. Studies show that mindfulness can foster greater empathy and communication skills, improve focus and attention, reduce stress, promote emotional balance and a deeper sense of compassion, and enhance creativity and general well being. This interactive workshop will explore how mindfulness techniques and strategies can be implemented into undergraduate courses.



Alan Forrest, Ed.D. is a Professor in the Department of Counselor Education at Radford University. Alan is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. He has facilitated mindfulness/meditation training seminars, workshops, and retreats. In addition to his personal mindfulness meditation practice, Alan has led, and co-led, mindfulness retreats for undergraduate and graduate college students, medical students, medical faculty, school faculty and staff, human service and mental health professionals, hospital personnel, educators, young adults and others. He is actively involved in infusing mindfulness into both his counseling practice and into the college classroom.  He is interested in mindfulness pedagogy and facilitates weekly mindfulness practice groups at Radford University for faculty and staff.


Dr. Shoemaker began a career in education in 1970, teaching in elementary education, music education, early childhood education and in gifted education programs for over twenty years.  She later worked in post-secondary education for over thirty years in Florida and in Virginia, serving as the Dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Radford University from 2006 – 2015.  As part of an organizational development effort during this time, the College adopted the overarching theme of Mind, Body, Spirit. The College hosted activities and workshops on mindfulness and socio-emotional development in education, leadership, and organizational development.  Dr. Shoemaker serves as the Director of the Peace Studies Program at Radford University and collaborates with several faculty colleagues in teaching peace studies and mindfulness classes.


Angela’s passion is to help individuals achieve personal growth and maintain balance in their lives. Angela holds a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development from Radford University. Her undergraduate studies include psychology and the biological sciences. Angela believes that good mental health is a vital part of wellness and that a practice of mindfulness plays a key role.  Angela believes that mindfulness provides ways to not only help the individual, but mindfulness can help build healthy communities. It is Angela’s hope that in teaching and promoting the practice of mindfulness, she is helping others to find peace within themselves which will lead to a more peaceful world. Angela is currently a resident counselor at Life in Balance Counseling and Wellness Center in Christiansburg, Virginia. Angela is an Adjunct Instructor at Radford University where she teaches the undergraduate course “The Concepts, Process, and Practices of Mindfulness”. Angela also facilitates mindfulness retreats, groups, and classes.

Afternoon Workshops

[For session details and presenter bios, click to expand the box below]


W5: Presence, Authenticity, and Engagement: Tools for Deeper Learning in the Classroom

Susanna Rinehart, Virginia Tech, Chair & Assoc. Professor in Performance, Theatre History, and Literature


W6: Getting Started: Leveraging a Next Generation ePortfolio Platform to Create a Student-centered Experience

Samantha J. Blevins and Charley Cosmato - Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning, Radford University


W7: Design of Digital Game-based Learning Instruction

Miko Nino, University Libraries - Virginia Tech



W8: Integrating Short Activities into Any Class

Todd Zakrajsek, Associate Professor, Family Medicine
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Presence, Authenticity, and Engagement: Tools for Deeper Learning in the Classroom

Presenter: Susanna Rinehart, Virginia Tech, Faculty Chair, Associate Professor - Performance, Theatre History, and Literature

Workshop Description:

Applying theatre methodology to strengthen teaching effectiveness, this participatory workshop will introduce and demonstrate specific tools that teachers can use – in any class, large or small – to develop their connection, engagement and impact in the classroom. We ask that our students be engaged, but are we? We can only require it of them if we require it of ourselves. Engagement requires presence, authenticity and energy.  This workshop offers practical tools, ways in which teachers can directly apply specific techniques and methodology to develop more effective, connected, engaged teaching in the classroom, with the goal of deeper learning by our students. Participants in this workshop will be invited to practice and receive friendly supportive coaching, applying these methods to their own discipline, and utilizing a 2-minute piece of their own familiar course content and pedagogy! 


Susanna Rinehart is Chair of Theatre and Cinema in the Virginia Tech School of Performing Arts, and the recipient of numerous awards for her teaching, both here and at her prior institution.  She teaches over 500 students per semester, in performance, and in theatre history and literature; and directs and performs. Directing credits include Distracted, Clybourne Park, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling BeeThe Laramie CycleSpring Awakening: The Musical, The Shape of Things, This, and Anton in Show Business; and for the Summer Arts Festival, Kimberly Akimbo, Fuddy Meers, The Imaginators, Proof, The Yellow Boat, and Cinderella Waltz. Most recently seen as Sarah Bernhardt in The Divine: A Play for Sarah Bernhardt, other roles include Masha in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Violet Venable in Suddenly, Last Summer, Mrs. Gottlieb in Dead Man’s Cell Phone, Dr. Vivian Bearing in Wit, Lady Capulet in Romeo and Juliet, and Desiree Armfeldt in A Little Night Music; as well as roles in Ed Falco’s plays Sabbath Night in the Church of the Piranha, Radon, The Pact, Ordinary Dreams, and In Red Rain. As a five-time director and actress in Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, she has helped raise over $60,000 for local and international organizations working to end violence against women. She was stage director for VT’s 2012 Sheer Good Fortune: A Celebration of Toni Morrison, and directed Dustin Lance Black’s 8 at the Lyric. Prior to VT, she taught, directed, and acted at UNC Chapel Hill, and was a resident principal actor with PlayMakers Repertory Company for 10 seasons. As a Diggs Teaching Scholar and beyond, Susanna has led numerous faculty development workshops, and highly values collaborating with fellow educators toward more meaningful and lasting learning for our students.

Getting Started: Leveraging a Next Generation ePortfolio Platform to Create a Student-centered Experience


Samantha J. Blevins, Instructional Designer & Learning Architect, Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning, Radford University

Charley Cosmato, Director, Center for Innovative Teaching & Learning, Radford University

Workshop Description:

Are you interested in incorporating ePortfolios into your course or program? Have you struggled with implementing ePortfolios in the past? Are you looking for an ePortfolio platform that includes a social network and students will be excited to use? Then this workshop is for you! During this workshop, you will be introduced to Portfolium, a next generation ePortfolio system that incorporates the pedagogy of ePortfolio, the networking aspects of social media, and the portability of a platform that can travel with you. Participants will develop a personalized action plan to identify the next steps for implementation with their students, course or program. In addition, participants will also be encouraged to create their own Portfolium account so they can connect with others on the platform.


Note: Participants will need to bring their own laptop or mobile device in order to actively participate.


Three Objectives:

Attendees will be able to:

  • Identify the purpose and goals of your ePortfolio requirement.
  • Develop a personalized action plan for your specific ePortfolio needs.
  • Create and add your own work to a Portfolium account, including a profile and at least one artifact.


Samantha J. Blevins is the an Instructional Designer & Learning Architect at Radford University in Radford, VA. She works as part of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning and her area of focus is ePortfolio implementation. She received her doctorate in Instructional Design and Technology from Virginia Tech and has broad teaching and instructional design experiences in k-12 and higher education. Her research focus areas include: diffusion of innovation theory; electronic portfolio implementation; integrated learning practices; and, distance learning and interaction. In addition, she currently serves as the treasurer/secretary officer for Association for Educational Communications and Technology’s division of Systemic Thinking and Change and on the Executive Advisory Board for the Instructional Development Educational Alliance Exchange.


Charles “Charley” Cosmato is the Director of Radford University’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning [CITL] where he leads a team of learning architects, instructional designers, technologists, and new media developers.  The CITL team leads the Radford University campus in brave exploration of innovations in the learning sciences, instructional technology, instructional design, and innovative teaching methodology.

Design of Digital Game-based Learning Instruction

Presenter: Miko Nino

Workshop Description:

In this workshop, participants will explore the use of digital learning games as a mechanism to enhance instruction. Participants will design instruction for a course or lesson focused on a digital learning game and will use the affordances of the game to assess student's knowledge, skills, and abilities. Also, participants will explore technologies used to develop games and examples of sound digital learning games that can be used in the classroom. 


By the end of the workshop, participants should be able to:

  • Prepare a course design plan focused on the use of a digital learning game.
  • Assess students' knowledge, skills, and abilities through the use of digital learning games
  • Discuss technologies and trends used in digital game-based learning instruction


Miko is a training, development, and e-learning professional. Currently, he is the Instructional Design & Training Manager at Virginia Tech. He is also completing his Ph.D. in Instructional Design & Technology at Virginia Tech. He is the current President of the Association for Talent Development (ATD), Valleys of Virginia Chapter. He has designed and developed a wide variety of instructional materials and facilitated training in areas such as online course quality, 21st century assessments, digital game-based learning, intercultural training, flipped classroom strategies, and others. He was one of the members of the Learning Transformation Research Group, funded by National Science Foundation (NSF), which designed and developed digital learning games for K-12 students.  

Integrating Short Activities into Any Class

Presenter: Todd Zakrajsek, Associate Professor, Family Medicine
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Workshop Description:

coming soon


Todd Zakrajsek is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he also serves as the Associate Director of the Faculty Development Fellowship Program.

In addition to his work at UNC providing resources for faculty on various topics related to teaching and learning, Zakrajsek serves on several educationally-related boards, such as the Journal of Excellence in College Teaching; International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning; Higher Education Teaching Learning Portal; Education Research Initiative (Lenovo Computer); Technology Enriched Instruction (Microsoft); and Communicating Science in K-12. He also serves a three-year term as an elected core committee member for the Professional Organizational Developers Network.

Zakrajsek’s current academic work and publications pertain to faculty development, effective instructional strategies, and student learning. His most recent books include The New Science of Learning (co-authored with Terry Doyle; Stylus; 2013) and Teaching for Learning (co-authored with Claire Major and Michael Harris, Routledge Publishing; 2015). He has been a visiting professor and delivered keynote addresses at approximately 250 campuses and teaching conferences.

Zakrajsek earned his BS in Psychology from Lake Superior State University. He holds an MS and a PhD from Ohio University in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. He has been at UNC since 2008.