The Northwest eLearning Community

Our Goals

  • Share best practices in pedagogy, instructional design, system and program management in electronic environments.
  • Collaborate on use of learning technologies.
  • Provide feedback and ideas for improved functionality to product developers.
  • Gather participants for face-to-face collaboration, learning, and support in an annual conference.

How We Started

In 2005, a group associated with the Washington Community and Technical College eLearning Council (eLC) formed the Washington Blackboard Users Group. WABUG aimed to create a community of users involved in online teaching and learning. With the rapid growth of online, hybrid, and web-enhanced instruction in our institutions, we responded by creating a conference/community to share best practices, tips, and new technologies to enhance our colleges and universities.

At the inaugural meeting in December 2006, attendees elected a committee representing WABUG and a sister organization, the Pacific Northwest Blackboard Users Group, with the charge of determining how the organization could best serve the similar goals of the two groups.

The committee announced a new name for the conference, NWeLearn, in 2007 and they developed the mission statement and governance protocol. Attendees voted to accept the recommendations.

Since then, the Northwest eLearning Community has hosted yearly conferences, rotating to various locations around the three states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. NWeLearn also promotes regional and topical microconferences and has provided webinars to support eLearning.

Meet The Board


Ana Thompson



Ana Thompson has worked in higher education for the last 16 years in IT, digital learning, and instructional design. As a Learning & Access Designer at the UW Bothell Office of Digital Learning & Innovation, Ana enjoys working with faculty and staff to streamline the use of technology tools, increase inclusive teaching, and promote digital fluency.

Ana has extensive experience with Learning Management Systems, adult learning, WCAG 2.0, document accessibility, Copyright and Fair Use, Universal Design for Learning, and finding innovative ways to use old and new tools. Currently, she is the lead of the Universal Design for Learning campus initiative, co-chairs the Accessibility Planning Project committees, and is a member of the Campus Access Guide workgroup and the UW IT Accessibility Task Force.


Amy Spielmaker


Amy Spielmaker works in the College of Education at Western Oregon University where she teaches instructional design, develops marketing materials, oversees digital media production, develops and maintains all college websites, and assists faculty with developing curriculum and creating engaging online classes. Amy also does freelance website design and instructional design.

Amy has an MSEd in Information Technology from Western Oregon University with a certificate in Instructional Design. She received her undergraduate degree from Utah State University in Nutrition, Dietetics, & Food Science (dietetics emphasis). Amy’s hobbies (besides work) include running, crosswords, and anything outdoors.


Dr. Weiwei Zhang

Past Chair

Dr. Weiwei Zhang has worked in higher education for over 10 years. She is currently the Learning Systems Product Manager at Oregon State University. Prior to working at OSU, Weiwei worked at Western Oregon University and Reed College.

Weiwei is actively researching and exploring new ways to implement and leverage eLearning in higher education. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, painting, doing activities with her husband and two young children, and hanging out with her cat who believes he holds the wisdom and secret of the universe.


Jerry Lewis


Jerry Lewis has been working at Columbia Basin College for about 24 years, starting out creating audio/visual materials for instructors, and later becoming the WebCT and distance learning admin. This evolved into his current position, Director for eLearning & Virtual Campus, where he provides support and guidance for online and other technologies.

Jerry has a BA in Communications/Broadcast Journalism from UW and an MBA from WGU. He is interested in French, speaking it passably, and Japanese, not so much. Until recently, he’s been a fairly regular bicyclist.


Dr. Velda Arnaud

Board Member

Dr. Velda Arnaud has a long history as a dedicated undergraduate instructor within 2-year, 4-year, and career/technical programs. Her foci are leadership, education, and service. She is committed to helping others identify their passions.

Velda is currently the Business Administration Department Chair at Blue Mountain Community College in Pendleton, Oregon.


Tim Chase

Board Member

Tim Chase began teaching in 1997 at a university in central China and then moved to beautiful central Oregon where he lives with his wife, Janet, and their three teens. Tim is certified for high school language arts and technology in several states and is currently director of program development with Impact Virtual Learning, an online course-provider for high school students.

Passionate about infusing technology into his own teaching and providing opportunity for his students to learn with technology, Tim is an enthusiastic promoter of classroom edTech, institutional change, and eLearning. Tim Chase is an eLearning Designer, EdTech Professional Development provider, and Event Coordinator. His favorite current projects involve virtualizing/digitizing classrooms with LMS and Google power!


Nina Fox

Board Member

Nina Fox has been in higher education for over 15 years. She is a passionate promoter of active learning and the use of educational technology within the physical and virtual classroom environments.

Based currently within Information Services at the University of Oregon, Nina is in constant pursuit of excellence and strives to increase student success through the use of educational technology in its many forms. When not pursuing excellence at work, Nina can be found either gardening, fishing or planning her next garden or fishing adventure.


Nadine Lemmons

Board Member

Nadine Lemmons has been one of Lower Columbia College’s pioneers with online, hybrid, and flipped model teaching; always looking to try something new to better engage students in learning. Nadine also works closely with the LCC Student Athletes, helping with student success and the Athletic Study Tables. Being affectionately coined “Gym Mom,” Nadine is often found lifting weights, helping with homework, and advising simultaneously in the campus Fitness Center.

Nadine is an LCC Alumni and holds a BS in Information Technology from George Fox University and an MBA from Marylhurst University. Nadine loves bodybuilding, running, books, nachos, and craft beer.


Cassidy Hall

Board Member

Cassidy Hall is the Director the Doceo Center for Innovation + Learning, as well as a Clinical Associate Professor of learning technologies in the University of Idaho’s Curriculum and Instruction Department. She supports technology integration and delivers professional development to K-12 teachers and administrators throughout the state of Idaho and to faculty on UI campuses. In fact, Cassidy dedicated 15 years to working in K-12 public education in Pennsylvania prior relocating to Idaho in 2013.

Cassidy has a Bachelor of Science in Broadcast Journalism from West Virginia University, a Master of Education in School Library and Information Technologies from Mansfield University, and is on track to complete a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction at the University in Idaho in 2022. Her research interests focus on technology integration in K-12 and higher education classrooms with emphasis on technologies to support students with special needs.


Emily Householder

Board Member

Emily Householder is an instructional designer at Intel in the Sales and Marketing Group. She develops learning experiences for everything from communication skills to FPGA sales resources (just don’t ask her how an FPGA works). She is passionate about authentic use of technology in learning and accessible experiences for all learners. Emily is a Western Oregon University Alumni where she earned a BS in Education, a K-12 teaching license, an MSED in Information Technology, and an instructional design certificate. Occasionally, she teaches an online course for her alma mater, keeping her roots deeply in education.

Emily loves reading, sewing, and drinking coffee and can often be found hiking around Oregon with her chihuahua and husband.