Photo: Clemson University Professor Ralph Welsh flips a class. Credit: Ralph Welsh

The number of students taking at least one online course surpassed 7.1 million last year and represents a third of the 21.3 million higher education students, according to Babson Research Group.

With numbers like these, it’s no wonder there’s a week dedicated solely to distance learning in the U.S. (It’s this week, by the way.)

We’ll be celebrating National Distance Learning Week all week with our customers, one of which is holding an entire online conference with tons of speakers that is FREE to the public.

South Carolina’s Clemson University is holding its second annual National Distance Learning Week Conference, put on by the Clemson Online office that creates courses and programs in blended and online formats. It is sponsored by the United States Distance Learning Association and is a nationwide effort to generate greater awareness and appreciation for distance learning in K-12, higher education, corporate and military settings, while also recognizing leaders in the field. The conference will feature more than 30 educational technology experts throughout the week ranging from faculty to technologists sharing their best practices. And everything will be live streamed via Mediasite for the world to watch.

“We organized the conference as a way to bring more awareness and provide opportunities for training and continuing education for our faculty and staff. We also involved others across South Carolina and bordering states. It’s all about promoting acceptance and growth of online learning,” said Witt Salley, Director of Clemson Online and chief online education officer at Clemson, adding that the importance of online learning has also been recognized by the state of South Carolina — Governor Nikki Haley has proclaimed this week South Carolina Distance Learning Week.

We’re particularly excited that our friend and Mediasite user Ralph Welsh, a lecturer in Clemson’s Department of Public Health Sciences, is presenting this year. Professor Welsh started experimenting with flipped classrooms three years ago, redesigning and refining his courses over time and putting the onus on the student to come to class already having watched the lectures and ready to engage in conversation. Now, he’s a flipped expert and will present a how-to-guide for introducing flipped instruction to students.