Educators > Why Distance Learning? Podcast  

Why Distance Learning? Podcast

The transfer of knowledge reflects the technology of the era, like interactive video calls that went from little known novelty to a critical necessity in education almost overnight. As a result, some extremely strong feelings were developed about the once niche educational medium - distance learning.  

In the Why Distance Learning podcast three seasoned education professionals and their guests seek to dispel myths about live virtual learning to show it is a promising tool that can improve all our lives.

Get to know more about Distance Learning with the episodes listed below and if you have experienced any troubles with tech, let us know about it here so we can talk through troubleshoots live with different virtual educators!



Brandon Hall

This episode of the Why Distance Learning podcast features an interview with Brandon Hall from Learn Around the World, a content provider that uses live virtual learning to facilitate cross-cultural connections. Brandon discusses the opportunities virtual classrooms provide for cross-cultural communication, and what teachers should keep in mind when facilitating these interactions. He shares his go-to tools for encouraging student engagement and interactivity during lessons. As an educator entrepreneur running Learning Around the World, he talks about the business side of managing a thriving virtual learning program. Brandon’s core message is that distance learning provides awesome opportunities to transform the learning experience when educators fully leverage the available technology.


   Michael Allosso

We are excited to welcome master communications expert Michael Allosso to the show. Michael coaches CEOs and executives on dynamic presentations and effective leadership. He's led award-winning workshops worldwide and is a top-rated speaker for Vistage International, winning Speaker of the Year four times. When he's not speaking, Michael is directing plays and films.

Michael joins us to discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of virtual teaching. Distance learning exploded out of necessity during the pandemic, but many educators are still figuring out how to maximize its potential. Michael will share his insights on communicating effectively through the screen.

Key Points

Virtual teaching requires adapting your communication style - how to come across as engaging without in-person cues, tips for using body language, eye contact, and vocal variety to connect with remote students. Keeping energy and student participation high during virtual sessions. Portraying enthusiasm and passion through the camera. The importance of entertainment and "golden moments" in education, virtual or in-person. Michael offered great advice for educators on finding their personal brand, the power of making people feel seen, and finding the right roles for people whether it be in the classroom, casting a play, or finding your business’s leadership team. Overall, the episode covered practical tips for impactful virtual teaching while highlighting inspiring teachers using technology to transform learning.



Lance Ford

Join us as we speak with Dr. Lance Ford, a veteran educator and pioneer in the field of distance learning. Dr. Ford has been integrating video conferencing technologies into classrooms for over 20 years, and his focus is on how they can enable authentic engagement between teachers and learners, regardless of location. In this interview, Dr. Ford shares insights from training over 20,000 teachers worldwide on effectively using tools like Zoom. He discusses common misconceptions teachers have before embracing video, as well as the biggest benefits and value-adds they experience after adopting these technologies. Dr. Ford also explores hardware considerations, the nuances of teaching music virtually, overcoming engagement challenges, differentiating instruction, and fostering community in a distance learning environment. He shares creative ideas and "golden moments" that emerge when teachers and students start leveraging the interactive capabilities of video platforms.

This inspiring discussion is a must-listen for any educator who wants to learn more about how to use video conferencing to create effective and engaging virtual learning experiences.



Darin Trobaugh

In this episode of Why Distance Learning, hosts Seth, Tami, and Allyson interview Darin Trobaugh, an Education Specialist at the Alaska SeaLife Center. They discuss Darin's diverse background in environmental engineering and teaching, which allows him to bring unique content to each of the over 2,000 educational programs he's taught. Darin shares how he combines his passion for animals with opportunities to share science virtually with learners of all ages. A highlight is Darin's perspective on the importance of using distance learning to share a little piece of Alaska with students who can't visit in person. He touches on how Alaska itself becomes a character in many programs, and the value of teaching Alaskan culture broadly. Darin also discusses benefits and challenges of broadcasting live from the SeaLife Center rather than a studio, including keeping the animals cooperative. Other topics include terminology, designing programs for young learners, and grant funding for distance learning initiatives. Throughout the conversation, Darin emphasizes that distance learning allows the SeaLife Center to fulfill its mission of inspiring conservation of the marine environment in creative new ways.



Picture of Paul Hieronymus

In this podcast episode, hosts Seth Fleischauer, Allyson Mitchell, and Tami Moehring welcome Courtney Dayhuff from Banyan Global Learning. The episode delves into Courtney’s decade of experience teaching over live video and her insights about the power of the medium. Of particular interest is her ability to get students to share their own stories over live video, especially within the context of teaching character education (in this case, SEL, Digital Citizenship, and Global Citizenship). Courtney discusses Banyan’s method of running live virtual field trips from the “real world” with teachers live and on location in real world settings. The discussion also explores the concept of global citizenship in an internet-connected world, along with the benefits of long-term virtual engagements versus one-off sessions. Personal practices for educator character development conclude the enlightening conversation.





Picture of Paul Hieronymus

In this episode, Seth, Allyson, and Tami welcome Paul Hieronymus, chairman of the Ohio Distance Learning Association (OhioDLA). We discuss golden moments, the current state of distance learning in Ohio, and persistent challenges in distance learning that may account for why the medium is not more popular than it is. We explore strategies for engaging non-tech-savvy learners and share insights on converting more individuals to this educational approach, emphasizing the pivotal role of Ohio DLA. The conversation touches on ongoing issues in distance learning, post-pandemic enrollment trends, and the virtual vs. in-person schooling debate. Throughout, Paul masterfully underscores the enduring relevance and importance of distance learning in today's educational landscape.

Paul Hieronymus is in his third year of being the chairman of the Ohio Distance Learning Association (OhioDLA). He is one of the founding members of the organization, serving on their board when they formalized as a state chapter of USDLA. Paul is the Director of Information,Technology & Integration for the North Ridgeville City Schools. Prior to OhioDLA and North Ridgeville, Paul has served as president of ISTE’s Special Interest Group for Interactive Video Distance Learning and has served as a core volunteer for ISTE’s National Conference, running video operations from 2008 - 2013. He has been very active with Google Apps for Education and is one of Ohio’s first Google Certified Educators. Since 2004, he has worked with teachers from the US, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia to establish classroom to classroom collaborations.

In this captivating episode, Seth, Allyson, and Tami sit down with Eric Jones, a driving force behind Oiada International. With a dynamic career in distance learning that spans decades, Eric’s unwavering commitment to cultivating 21st century global citizens and leaders using distance will leave you awestruck! The group delves into the rich history of Oiada to unpack the best practices for using distance learning to create a successful cultural exchange program that shares perspectives, boosts self-esteem, and instills a sense of unity among global peers. Eric also takes time to share about his time in a leadership role in the United States Distance Learning Association, discussing the challenges USDLA is determined to overcome and the different ways the Association revolutionizes the way students learn!


Seth, Allyson, and Tami are joined by Anne-Marie Côté, Content Provider Engagement Coordinator at Connected North. Anne-Marie chats with the group about her work and personal commitment to building engaging and empowering spaces that promotes learning for all. Along with discuss her work in designing K-12 curriculum, she dives into her current role working collaboratively with a variety of Content Providers to develop and/or adapt their virtual field trips to prepare them to effectively connect with remote and Indigenous communities by implementing efficient teaching strategies and appropriate media to engage learners where they are. Anne-Marie, not only shares about her career she also gave us a hot tip about upcoming Distance Learning stars who started their own businesses at the age of 10!




Jan Zanetis is a distance learning pioneer who spent 20 years in K-12 and higher ed before working for Distance Learning powerhouses TANDBERG and Cisco Systems. In 2013, she became the Managing Director at the Center for Interactive Learning and Collaboration (CILC). Jan retired from CILC in 2022 where she mentored co-host Tami Moehring and was a clear and present inspiration to co-host Allyson Mitchell. Due to these close relationships, be forewarned that this episode gets a little sappy! Now freshly retired, Jan - who literally wrote the book (or, rather, several books) on distance learning - drops some extremely practical knowledge about the medium, talks about the power of publishing, and shares her secrets on how to be a successful female leader in a tech world dominated by men.




Welcome to Part Two of our exciting two-part episode where Seth, Tami, and Allyson delve into the insights and experiences of a diverse group of distance learning professionals from across North America.

As we do with each episode, we asked each participant the titular question of our podcast: Why Distance Learning? It's a question that distance learning providers have all had to answer, the implication often being: why don't you just do this in person? Each of the people in CILC's Pinnacle Education Collective have reflected deeply upon this question as you will hear in this episode. The answers go way beyond trying to replicate an in-person experience virtually and instead ventures into the medium's ability to push the very limits of what's possible in the classroom.


Welcome to Part One of our exciting two-part episode where Seth, Tami, and Allyson delve into the insights and experiences of a diverse group of distance learning professionals from across North America. Reflecting on the golden moments of their careers, our guests share captivating stories that highlight the profound impact they've had on students and, in turn, how the learners have impacted them. Despite the physical distance that separates teacher from learner, these stories highlight the bonds formed through distance learning and remind us of the remarkable connections that can be forged in virtual classrooms.

The crew is thrilled to welcome returning guests and introduce you to new experts with unique perspectives and innovative approaches. Explore the links to learn more about the exceptional institutions our guests represent, uncovering groundbreaking work in distance learning. Stay tuned for Part Two to continue learning from this fun conversation among friends!


Dr. Jasmin Poor is a decorated veteran of distance learning and brings to the podcast her deep experience with both teaching and research. She discusses with Seth, Allyson, and Tami her perspective on homeschooling and digital school, balancing virtual experiences with on-site visits, the most surprising things she's learned from her research on distance learning, what led her to a career in the field, and why she believes distance learning has great value in today's educational landscape.

Dr. Poor is the virtual field trip teacher and coordinator for Roper Mountain Science Center and her research on the impact of virtual field trips students’ interest in STEM was published in a textbook. She is also an adjunct professor for several universities supporting undergraduates and graduate students in education. Jasmin’s impact on the virtual world includes focusing on creating high quality and engaging programs for students around the world to increase their interest in science.



James Hodges joins the crew to discuss his dynamic role as the Interactive Video Conferencing Department Administrator for the Utah Education and Telehealth Network, known as UETN IVC and housed at the Eccles Broadcast Center on the beautiful University of Utah’s campus. Along with giving some great tips about how to jump into Utah living, James explains the unique history and infrastructure that supports the cutting edge UETN Video Operations Center for Utah’s state of the art live, synchronous Distance Education system that is used by thousands of educators and teachers in Utah daily. After describing the impact of Utah’s distance learning model, James also gives insights into his work on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) and its upcoming conference.

Learn more about UETN by visiting their website here:

Discover more about the history of UETN with a timeline of some of the high level benchmarks that James discussed:


This VERY special episode has Tami, Allyson, and Seth welcoming three real-life littles to the show. Tristan and Eden are two of the most active young members of the CILC community, consistently showing up to Community of Learning events and many other live virtual field trips. Vida is the daughter of host Seth and actually became an impromptu content provider during the pandemic as Banyan Global Learning launched their social and emotional learning program (at the time entitled "Shelter in Place Superheroes") which Vida helped to shape. With these amazing upper-elementary students (and their parents) we discuss some of the advantages and disadvantages to live distance learning, some of their favorite programs and golden moments, and what they love about distance learning. 



Seth, Allyson, and Tami hang out and talk everything distance learning with health, science, and museum educator Lee Gambol, the Distance Learning Coordinator at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. Lee and your hosts talk about the current state of virtual learning in their respective states and how school districts that lack bandwidth and tech can get the resources they need to access live virtual field trips. Lee brings her usual charisma to a conversation about using hardware & props, her whacky teaching approach, blending hands-on plus distance learning, customizing content for audiences of all ages, and supporting a team that ensures the same standard no matter who is providing the live virtual visit. Don't miss out on this episode, where you'll not only be inspired by Lee's expertise in distance learning, but also learn some tidbits about how bodies function and hear the crew share some real life scar stories. Get ready for an informative and fun-filled ride!  


Seth, Allyson, and Tami welcome special guest Ben Newsome, founder of Fizzics Education and Virtual Australia Excursion as well as author of Be Amazing!: the way to teach science the way primary kids love and host of the FizzicsEd Podcast!, to share his extensive experience in creating engaging hands-on science programs using distance learning. Ben provides valuable insights on the power of live virtual programs for learners, especially those living in rural and remote communities in Australia and around the globe. In this episode, Ben also discusses his approach to training energetic science educators to engage a global audience and his work in collaborating with other institutions to create immersive virtual learning events that celebrate special days of observance that relate to science. Tune in to learn from Ben's wealth of experience and learn how distance learning can connect groups globally and break down barriers to education.  


Seth, Allyson, and Tami welcome Katie Yodice and Eileen Dwyer from the Nassau BOCES Center for Online Learning. Katie and Eileen are educational professionals with a plethora of experience running their own unique virtual learning labyrinth for K-12 students. In this episode, they share with our hosts their unique insights for helping educators get comfortable with distance learning and their belief in virtual visits as a critical tool to inject excitement into all types of learning. Of particular interest is their work creating global connections between student groups. Get inspired as you listen to Katie and Eileen explain their role in building a global classroom that gives students the opportunity to explore the world and each other using distance learning.  



Seth, Tami, and Allyson chat with Jason Robertshaw from Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium about his experiences as a virtual educator. The discussion includes a day in the life in the Studio, supporting a range of experts using tech to teach, unlikely hazards using props, distance learning history and culture. They dive into the different ways an educator can get involved in interactive virtual teaching by using their personal expertise and highlighting important content of their institution or field. Also covered are tips and tricks for working with broadcast technologies – including what to do if a raccoon drops through the ceiling right before a live program! Don’t miss this conversation that explores how interactive distance learning experiences open a door to an authentic global classroom for learners of all ages.