ION Professional eLearning Programs

The ION Professional eLearning Program provides professional development and support to advance the practice and innovation of online learning for faculty, staff, and online leaders. ION Professional eLearning is administered by the Continuing and Professional Education department at the University of Illinois Springfield.

ION Professional eLearning is partially funded by the University of Illinois Springfield to provide professional development in the area of online teaching and learning to faculty at partner community colleges in Illinois, the three campuses of the University of Illinois, and around the world.

Faculty and staff of the ION Professional eLearning report to the Coordinator of Professional Programs. ION Professional eLearning is housed within the Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE) department.


Dr. Hoyet Hemphill

Dr. Hoyet Hemphill has been at Western Illinois University, as a professor of Instructional Design and Technology since 2002. He currently serves as Program Graduate Director. Professional background includes conducting research, demonstrations, and presentations in simulations and virtual learning environments. He has 27 years of experience in course development and teaching of undergraduate and graduate courses in project management, instructional design, K-12 technology integration, video production, 3D animations and simulations, and has provided oversight of numerous instructional games, videos, and simulations projects.  Additionally, he has project management experience in research and development groups in engineering and technology-based training; instructional design; online course design; and educational program evaluation.

Dr. Hemphill has published a book chapter on systemic change in educational systems.  His published articles have included comparing educational change between the U.S. and China, interactivity assessment for computer-based assessment, instructional project management, interactivity in online discourse through eLearning, and on psychological assessment.

Dr. Hemphill received his doctorate in Instructional Technology from Utah State University where he engaged in doctoral work in simulations, interactive multimedia, artificial intelligence, expert systems, and computer games.  

Dr. Terry Fencl

Since 1980, Dr. Terry Fencl has been a full-time instructor of speech and theater at Triton College. She teaches in the Interdisciplinary Studies Department which offers interdisciplinary packages of general education courses in communications, fine arts, social and behavioral sciences and humanities. Department members collaborate in curriculum and lesson planning, assignments and exams, the assessment of learners, team teaching, etc. In 1998, Triton moved its learning community to an online format preserving the interdisciplinary mandate and connecting the virtual community of online learners to the classroom community of on-campus learners. Terry teaches online theater courses in this Community Of One model. Additionally, she teaches what was for a long time somewhat of a rarity –online public speaking courses.

Teaching online has been a rejuvenating, fun, and incredibly rewarding experience. Terry has seen her online speech students better prepared for their presentations than my on-campus learners. She also experiences significantly more insightful and substantive discussions in my online theater courses. She’s convinced that key factors are the high level of interactivity, collaboration, and sense of community that can be achieved in the virtual classroom. A common theme among students in her course surveys is that they have never experienced traditional classes as much communication with other learners and the instructor as they have in their online experience.

Terry has a Ph.D. in communications, an MA in speech & performing arts, an MS in organizational behavior, and a BA in English. Currently, she’s working with her department colleagues and with faculty from other colleges to develop an innovative, inter-institutional, team-taught series of online humanities courses (under an ILLCO grant).

Dr. Norman Garrett

Dr. Garrett is currently a Professor Emeritus of Management Information Systems in the School of Business at Eastern Illinois University, where he has taught courses in programming, networking, and management information systems. He has been an educator since starting his first teaching assignment at Tolleson Union High School in Tolleson, Arizona, in 1973. Since that time he has worked as a teacher and administrator at the high school, community college, and university levels. Among other duties, he has served as a high school athletic director, a community college dean, a university academic computing specialist, and an associate director of a university computer institute. He has a bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University, a master's and a doctorate from Arizona State University, and a certificate from the University of Illinois as a Master Online Teacher. He loves to teach using a technologically hybrid approach.

In the industry, he has worked as a systems analyst, assembly language programmer, network administrator, and corporate CEO. He has extensive consulting experience and expertise in networking and telecommunications as well as several programming languages, software development, and educational technology. He has won numerous awards, has written 5 books and a variety of scholarly articles, and is listed in several editions of Who’s Who, including Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in the Computer Industry.

Dr. Rhonda Gregory

Dr. Rhonda Gregory is currently the Dean of Social Science and Education at Volunteer State Community College where she provides administrative leadership to the division faculty and staff. Previously, Dr. Gregory also served Vol State as the Dean of Academic Support (2019-2023) and Distance Learning Director (2015-2019) with responsibilities for the college's library, tutoring, instructional design, online learning, international education, and faculty development. Dr. Gregory states "I love working with a diverse, talented faculty and eager, hard-working students seeking to accomplish their educational goals." 

Prior to coming to Volunteer State Community College, Dr. Gregory worked at Greenville College, a four-year school in Greenville, IL. She held several positions there over nine years, including director of instructional technology, adjunct instructor, academic adviser, instructional technologist, and online learning program coordinator.

Dr. Gregory holds an Ed.D. from the University of Memphis in Curriculum and Instruction (2018), a Master of Arts in Teaching from Greenville University (2010), and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from DeVry (1998).

Dr. Leaunda Hemphill

Dr. Leaunda Hemphill is a professor in the Instructional Design and Technology program at Western Illinois University. She teaches courses in online course development; educational technology integration; professional development and evaluation; video production; and visual literacy. She oversees the Technology Specialist M.S. and Educational Technology Specialist certificate programs. She has taught courses for Illinois Online Network (ION) for over 20 years.  

Over the last 30 years, Dr. Hemphill has worked for corporate and academic organizations in instructional design; e-learning program development and evaluation; technical writing and editing; and client and staff training. She has published and conducted workshops nationally and internationally on multiple topics including strategies for technology integration in the schools; global e-learning; professional development; student assessment; and visual and digital literacy. 

Dr. Hemphill received a Ph.D. in Instructional Design and Technology, an M.S. in English, a B.S. in Secondary Education, and a B.S. in Geology. She has a Professional Educator License with a concentration in secondary education. She has also completed the ION Master Online Teacher certificate; Certified Online Learning Administrator certificate; and Digital Accessibility for Educators certificate.  

Mr. Michael McNett

Mike McNett has been part of the ION faculty since 2000 and has facilitated the Overview, Instructional Design, and Practicum courses, the latter two of which he developed. He is also on the English faculty of Oakton Community College, where he has developed, and still delivers, online versions of the Freshman Composition sequence, Business, and Technical Writing, and Writing for the Web. He has been active in training online faculty at Oakton and was a member of the college’s LMS selection teams in 2011 and 2020.

Mike is an ABD in American Literature from Northwestern, as well as an MA in American Literature from Northwestern and a BA in English from UIUC. He also holds the MOT certificate from ION.

Dr. Kathy Olesen-Tracey

With over 25 years of diverse professional experience, I am currently the Illinois State Director for Adult Education and Literacy at the Illinois Community College Board, a nationally recognized expert in adult education, corrections education, technology integration, and distance learning. My educational leadership background includes developing standards-aligned curriculum, providing professional development to educators across the country, facilitating national discussions for LINCS, a United States Department of Education initiative, teaching in adult and developmental education, guiding students with academic, career, and personal advising, and planning and implementing student-focused programs.

Dr. W. Andrew Robinson

W. Andrew Robinson, Ph.D., holds a doctorate in Professional Studies in Education and two graduate certificates in Online Instructional Design and Teaching Online from Capella University, and a Master’s in Speech Communication from Eastern Illinois University. He is an adjunct faculty in the Department of Education and Leadership and with the Center for Professional Development and Education (CAPE) at the University of Illinois Springfield. Andrew teaches full-time at Eastern Illinois University’s School of Communication and Journalism. He has been teaching and designing online courses since 2005. Andrew developed the 6P Instructional Design Model in 2015, which has been adopted by the Illinois Online Network as its primary model for its instructional design course. He received the Roger Whitlow Award for Excellence in Teaching and the Alpha Image Award for Leadership and Service. His two main research interests are online education and religious coping. Robinson’s teaching philosophy can be summarized by William Arthur Ward, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires." 

Ms. Christine Scherer

Christine Scherer (she/her) is the Senior Content Specialist at Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies Distance Learning Department. Over the last four years, she has spearheaded the department’s accessibility standards, taking the department from zero web accessibility considerations to a WCAG 2.0-compliant process that builds in accessibility from day one. She has developed and facilitated training for faculty and staff, consults on accessibility topics and issues during course development, and reviews all course sites for compliance with accessibility standards before launch. She partners with the university Disability Support Services office, AccessibleNU, to provide as-needed web accessibility consultations and serves on multiple university-wide accessibility councils and committees.

She has an MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse and a BA in Political Science from DePaul University, proving that the path to web accessibility isn’t always a direct one. Outside of work, she enjoys board games, sewing, and volunteering at her local farmers market.

You can connect with Christine on LinkedIn and see her work on the SPS DL website blog and accessibility guidelines.

Ms. Sally Bolen

Ms. Bolen’s undergraduate education began at Lincoln Christian College, now Lincoln Christian University, and finished with a BA at Greenville College, now Greenville University.  Her MS was completed in 1983 at SIU-E.  Bolen has been in education for over 35 years.  She worked in two public school districts in Illinois as a primary grades teacher, a Title I math teacher, and substituted for various grade levels.  For nine years, Bolen taught in the online graduate program at Greenville University before teaching at UIS.

Dr. Terri Winfree

Dr. Terri L. Winfree is the President of the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce. Previous to that, she served seven years as the President of Prairie State College (PSC) in Chicago Heights, Ill. She began her presidency in 2013 when she is the first woman and first PSC graduate to be named president of the college. Dr. Winfree served in leadership positions for 25 years with PSC. She has served on several boards and committees throughout Illinois. Dr. Winfree also has been an adjunct faculty member at Governors State University and the University of St. Francis. She also is a John Maxwell Certified Speaker, Coach, and Trainer. Dr. Winfree holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Communication Studies/Human Performance and Training from Governors State University and a Ph.D. in Education and Human Resources from Colorado State University.

Dr. Elena Miller

Dr. Elena Miller is the Diagnostic Medical Sonography Program Director, Professor, and Advisor at Joliet Junior College (JJC). In 2013, she was hired as a full-time faculty member to develop a brand-new Diagnostic Medical Sonography program. One year later Dr. Miller started teaching her first class and two years later, she got the program accredited. Dr. Miller has obtained an Associate in Applied Science degree in Diagnostic Medical Sonography from Triton College, Bachelor's degree in Healthcare Management and Master's degree in Healthcare Administration from Bellevue University. Dr. Miller earned her Doctor of Education degree in Educational Leadership degree from the University of St. Francis in 2022. In addition, she has worked at Ingalls/University of Chicago Medicine for over 17 years as a Diagnostic Medical Sonographer. Dr. Miller holds two professional Sonography licenses: Registered Diagnostic Medical Sonographer (RDMS) in Abdomen & OB/GYN specialties and Registered Vascular Technologist (RVT).

Dr. Miller has developed and taught online courses for the Sonography Program at JJC for 10 years. She earned the Master Online Teacher (MOT) certificate at the University of Illinois-Springfield in 2017. Since then, she has taken additional courses towards other ION certificates as well.

Dr. Miller is very interested in the topic of Emotional Intelligence and how it relates to student success and therefore, completed and published her dissertation titled “The Relationship Between Emotional Intelligence and Student Success for the Radiologic Technology and Diagnostic Medical Sonography Students at a Community College”. In addition, in 2023 Dr. Miller published research articles in the Journal of Diagnostic Medical Sonography and continues her research in this topic.

Dr. Misty Ludwig

Dr. Misti Ludwig is currently the Program Administrator/Director of Nursing at ATS Institute of Technology where she provides administrative leadership to all faculty and staff of the Nursing program. Previously, Dr. Ludwig also served Lewis University Department of Nursing as Director of RN-BSN program (2017-2020) with responsibilities to the University Assessment committee.  Dr. Ludwig has received her Master Online Training certificate (MOT) and Master Online Administrator and Leadership certificate (MOLA) through the ION Professional eLearning programs.

Dr. Ludwig has held several roles in her 11 year teaching career such as Program Coordinator where she created an online course for Joliet Junior College using QM qualifications for online courses.  This intense training allowed her to understand the online atmosphere and all the different design qualities that are needed to design a quality course.  She feels that continuing education is paramount to ensuring that the education world does not go stagnant.  

Dr Ludwig holds a Doctorate of Nursing Practice (DNP). from Regis University (2018).

Ms. Lori Wendt

Lori currently resides in Raleigh, North Carolina, but is originally from the Midwest. She received her bachelor’s degree in business from Western Illinois University and her MBA from Eastern Illinois University.  She has also earned certificates from the Illinois Online Network for Master Online Teacher, Master Online Leader and Administrator, and Digital Accessibility for Educators.

Lori has been employed in higher education since 2000 as both a staff member as well as a faculty member. She has taught Business Ethics, Intro to Business, Business Communications, Intro to Finance, Intro to Marketing, Communication at Work, Conflict Resolution, and Introduction to Digital Information and Literacy.  She has also worked extensively with instructional technology which included training and supporting faculty with the use of technology for online learning as well as the classroom.

Additionally, She served on steering committees for various educational organizations, such as the Illinois Community Colleges Online Consortium and the Faculty Summer Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. 

Staff and Administration

Russ Stoup
Coordinator of Professional Programs, ION Professional eLearning Programs
Phone: 217-206-8645

Vickie S. Cook, Ph.D.
Vice Chancellor for Enrollment & Retention Management

Lindsey Kurfman
IT Support, IT Support CAPE and ION Professional eLearning
Phone: 217-206-8650