Keynote Address by Elmer Poe

Elmer Poe

Elmer Poe is currently the Assistant Vice Chancellor for Emerging Academic Initiatives and holds the rank of Professor in the College of Technology and Computer Science at East Carolina University.

In the summer of 2003 Elmer worked with Dr. Rosina Chia to develop a world cultures course – Global Understanding - that uses real time video, chat and a variety of collaborative tools to bring students from around the world together in a common classroom for guided discussions about culture. These structured experiences provide a vehicle for the development of informed global perspectives and an appreciation for diverse cultures. Assessment activities are embedded in these courses and ECU currently teaches 18 sections of Global Understanding each semester in seven disciplines. This year more than 2,500 students at 50 university partners in 30 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa and South America are participating in the program. The partner universities provide the same experiences to their own students through the Global Understanding course. Outgrowths of these efforts include Global English, Global Leadership and a variety of other synchronous based initiatives. Because these global experiences depend on technology Elmer has been an advocate for planning to fail and implementing continuity of instruction in all global activities.
Poe was instrumental in the formation of the Global Partners in Education organization in the summer of 2008. This organization provides a platform for discussion and decision making about the global experiences of their students. GPE created the scholarly GPE-J journal to provide a vehicle for dissemination of the lessons learned in global programs. Poe has worked with the University of North Carolina system general administration to assist other UNC institutions in the creation of Global Understanding-like courses through the focused efforts of the UNC-China and UNC-India programs. An early proponent of the use of computer mediated communications in education Poe oversaw the implementation of online education at ECU to include the development and delivery of academic programs to serve nearly 6,000 students who do not attend class on the resident campus. In this role he worked with a team of colleagues to test, select, and implements a wide variety of new technologies including streaming audio/video, virtual reality, and global realities. Elmer worked with a team to create a state-wide DE Proctoring System that automates the site selection and scheduling of exams, distribution and collection of exams, and integrates a virtual exam option. The system includes hundreds of proctoring sites and is used by thousands of students each semester. Poe is a member of the North Carolina Governor’s eLearning Commission.


Many technology based models that blend direct global experiences into college and university classes have been developed and refined in the past decade. In 2003 East Carolina University (ECU) began a program of virtual globalization with partner universities in China, The Gambia, Morocco, and Russia. The effort resulted in a Global Understanding (GU) course which employed videoconferencing for two-thirds of the class meetings and a variety of collaborative tools for student communications. Eleven years, sixty partners, and thousands of students around the world later GU has become normalized at ECU and is the cornerstone for both dedicated courses and embedded course activities in more than a dozen disciplines. We have learned that while no single model fits all courses or colleges we see emerging common elements that may contribute to the success of these activities. Normalization efforts at other universities and their models will also be introduced to set the stage for our plenary panel which will discuss four in more detail.