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Monday, June 09, 2008

Interview with Barbara Lauren, American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers

Welcome to an interview with Dr. Barbara Lauren, Associate Director, Compliance and Professional Development for the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO).

1. What is your name and your relation to education, especially distance education?

For five years I have supervised and taught in the online continuing education offerings of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). I work in concert with Don Bunis, American University Registrar (retired), who serves as technical consultant to our online offerings, and who trains and guides our online faculty (including teaching the advanced registrar course himself).

2. Please describe a few of the projects you have been involved in.

We offer four-week courses for our two major constituencies – registrars and admissions officers – at two different levels: one each for registrars or admissions officers who have entered the field within the past three years, and one for people in each field who are managers, or are aiming to be managers.

All four courses are offered asynchronously, on the Blackboard platform. For each course, we provide a three-day orientation, so that everyone learns how to enter the Discussion Board, start a new thread, and otherwise use the technology. Each course consists of four segments, and we post them week by week, to encourage people to think through each segment, rather than “getting through them, all in one fell swoop.” In addition, we have an open forum – the “Cyber Cafe” – available throughout each course. There, people can raise issues of particular interest to them that may not have emerged otherwise. We encourage participants to respond to each other, so that everyone can benefit.
3. The College Admissions Officer’s Guide has just been published and you were the editor. What was the goal of the publication? What was the scope? What were some of the challenges? Please describe how the Guide could be valuable for online programs.

The College Admissions Officer’s Guide (2008) is a companion volume to The Registrar’s Guide (2006). Both are hard-bound volumes of 500-plus pages, and they have been written by our public-spirited members in the field. Both books address a wide number of current issues in their areas. What I wrote in the Introduction to The Registrar’s Guide could stand equally well as a summary of the purpose of the admissions guide, too:

“This book was planned to enhance the skills of the seasoned registrar, while also being written clearly enough to aid the new registrar – or the veteran registrar who is venturing out of his or her comfort zone, by choice or by assignment, into a different part of the field…. These chapters represent the distillation of years of experience of very thoughtful people.”

Already, we are making use of one of the chapters in The College Admissions Officer’s Guide in our online course for admissions managers. One of the segments in the managers’ course concerns, as you would expect, “Best Practices in Recruiting and Marketing.” One of the readings in that segment is a very helpful chapter on “Technology-Enhanced Recruitment Communication,” by Dr. Dean Kahler of Western Kentucky University. This chapter offers a wide-ranging introduction to many of the newest ways of communicating with a high-tech generation.

As to challenges, the greatest challenge in creating and shepherding a book is simply deciding what we need and want to cover, and then recruiting authors to do so. Once you devise the roadmap, everything else follows.

4. Based on your work with AACRAO’s online continuing education programs, what do you see as the top trends in distance education?

I would say that a top trend, and challenge, in online distance education is to emphasize to the learners the importance of their interacting with other participants. We emphasize to those who have signed up that mere passive “listening” will not give them the maximum benefit from the course. We explicitly offer such tips as: Take full advantage of the interactivity of this medium. Participate! Log on to the workshop every day, and take full advantage of the fact that you will get to know your fellow-learners well over the course of the four weeks. Only by involving yourself actively will you gain the most from the course.

5. How can individuals and organizations obtain a copy of The College Admissions Officer’s Guide?

For orders, please call (301) 490-7651 (Eastern Standard Time), or go to The item number for The College Admissions Officer’s Guide is 0120. If you are interested in The Registrar’s Guide, the item number is 0110.

6. Is there a quotation which inspires you?

I really would like to share with everyone the quotation I chose to lead in to my Introduction to The Registrar’s Guide. The thought is short but wise:

“We are all of us ignorant, but on different subjects.”
Will Rogers, humorist-philosopher

The ability to enlighten people speedily on a variety of subjects is what continuing education, especially online, is all about!

Dr. Lauren can be reached at, or at 202-293-9161, ext. 6502

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