About the ILC



The Innovation in Learning Center (ILC) and USAonline, both part of the University of South Alabama's Academic Affairs Division, are in essence the same organization with two discrete purposes. 

Our goal is to improve the quality of learning at USA by promoting a culture of innovation in which faculty, staff, and students participate collaboratively in creative teaching and learning experiences. The ILC promotes innovation through coordinated professional development initiatives and integrated instructional technologies for the traditional classroom, blended courses, and fully online learning environments. Our overall vision is to serve as a hub for faculty members, scholars, and researchers from all over the world to brainstorm, promote educational research, and improve upon pedagogy and develop innovative learning opportunities. 

ILC History 

Founded in March 2011, when the University of South Alabama's Online Learning Lab (OLL) and the Program for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning (PETAL) pooled personnel and resources to form a new department under the auspices of Academic Affairs. 

The Online Learning Lab (with Dr. Jack Dempsey and four Instructional Design grad students) began offering faculty development and technology training in 1998. 

The Program for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning began in 2003 and was originally housed at the University Library. 

The ILC provides faculty and staff at USA with a host of resources and professional development opportunities to assist them with developing sound pedagogical skills, incorporating technology into teaching, and gaining proficiency with the University's Learning Management System. 


USAonline is the University's virtual campus that houses the learning management system and a number of other e-learning tools. The University of South Alabama has an open-source learning management system (LMS), known as Sakai. USAonline is a combination of the LMS and a variety of third-party tools. USAonline helps to deliver content, create assessments, and provide a collection of course communication tools. It also contains a gradebook tool and media gallery. 



Raj Chaudhury

Dr. S. Raj Chaudhury - Executive Director

Dr. S. Raj Chaudhury joined USA in August 2016. As Executive Director, he provides strategic oversight and direction for the teaching, learning and support functions of the ILC and USAonline. He also holds an academic appointment as Associate Professor of Physics. His research has focused on faculty and graduate student professional development as well as designing and assessing new learning technologies and research based pedagogies. Past projects to improve the learning of science by future scientists and future educators have received funding from NASA, National Science Foundation, U.S. Dept. of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture. Chaudhury served as a 2003-04 Carnegie Scholar through the Carnegie Academy for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. An avid musician, he has founded and directed university based Indian Music ensembles that specialize in the classical and semi-classical traditions of North Indian vocal and instrumental music. A native of Kolkata, India, Dr. Chaudhury is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Vassar College and received the Ph.D. in Physics from the University of California, Los Angeles.


 Lisa Lacross

Dr. Lisa Lacross - Assistant Director, Faculty Development




 David Williams Headshot

Dr. David Williams - Assistant Director, Course Development

Dr. David S. Williams provides support to faculty, staff, and students on matters pertaining to online, blended and web-enhanced courses for all colleges and departments at the University of South Alabama. He also provides assessment support for ILC program activities and assists faculty in designing evaluation of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning and course improvement projects.  David received his Ph.D in Instructional Design and Development here at USA with research focusing on program evaluation theory. He received a Master of Public Administration from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and his Bachelor of Arts in social science from the University of Mobile. He has nearly ten years experience in teaching, course design, and coordination of K-12 and higher education programs.




Julie Estis headshot

Dr. Julie Estis - Director of Academic Enhancement

Dr. Julie M. Estis is Director of Academic Enhancement and Associate Professor of Speech-Language Pathology. In this role, she applies principles of assessment, planning, implementation, and evaluation to South’s initiatives to improve student learning and academic success. She leads the TeamUSA (team-based learning) and SoTL USA (scholarship of teaching and learning) programs, providing faculty training and mentoring through ongoing professional development, coaching, and research. She also facilitates the ACUE Effective Teaching Practices Course for faculty. She is a Team-Based Learning Collaborative Certified Trainer-Consultant, with work extending beyond South to Universidad Francisco Marroquin- Guatemala, University of Wyoming, West Chester University, and others. She presents and publishes research on the impact of TBL on student learning across a variety of disciplines and instructional modalities. As current President-Elect, she is actively involved in the Team-Based Learning Collaborative international organization. 



 Jason Smith

Jason Smith - Manager, Learning Technology Services

Jason is responsible for overseeing USA’s learning management system and all third-party tools and services used to deliver online learning.  He received a B.S. in Computer and Information Sciences from USA, and has over 15 years of experience in educational technology.


Rochelle Darragh 

Rochelle Darragh - Distance Learning Specialist II

Rochelle oversees USA Online certification, support, and training as well as the ILC's Social Media platform. Prior to USA she was an E-Learning Specialist with Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College. She hold a B.S. in Organizational Communication from USA.



Ben Tyler Headshot

Ben Tyler - Online Learning Specialist / Project Manager


Ben provides learning management system and third-party tools technical support for faculty/staff as well as manages the ILC website and active departmental projects. Prior to working at USA he was a Information Technology instructor for Mobile Co. Public Schools for nine years and an ACCESS science teacher for seven years. He holds a B.S. in Secondary Education / Biology and an M. Ed in Educational Leadership / Supervision from USA.




Hannah Wilson - Multimedia Design Specialist



Julie French 

Julie French - Secretary V

Julie comes to the ILC from the English Department and has worked for USA for over 17 years. Julie is responsible for ILC general inquires, workshop registration, interdepartmental calendar, and facilities scheduling.



2019-2020 ILC Graduate Assistants


Yolany Lagos, Phillip Ward, Shelley Mayo, Randy Bumpers, Michelle Loo, Stephanie Garay, Jaqualious Carroll, Lipika Arif, Ryan Keller, Hameed Mirza

Click here to learn more about the Graduate Lab.