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 Canvas. 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 three different university based Indian Music ensembles that specialize in the classical and semi-classical traditions of North Indian vocal and instrumental music. On the weekend you can often find him on a soccer field with a whistle in his hand as a nationally certified referee with the US Soccer Foundation. 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


Lisa LaCross joined the ILC team in the spring of 2020. As the Assistant Director of Faculty Development, she coordinates faculty development programming and initiatives, such as Faculty Learning Communities and the Thank-a-Teacher program. Lisa enjoys collaborating with the ILC team and South Alabama faculty to design and implement meaningful workshops and events to promote equitable and effective course design. Lisa’s curiosity about inclusive and evidence-based instruction stems from her diverse teaching background which includes teaching English as a foreign language in Africa, as a second language in inner-city Birmingham, Alabama and to adults in Athens, Georgia. Most recently, she led undergraduate courses in French and Linguistics at the University of Georgia, while obtaining her Ph.D. in Linguistics. When not at the ILC, Lisa enjoys running, hiking, picnicking, and occasionally taking epic road trips with her family.

Julie Estis headshot

Dr. Julie Estis - Director of Academic Enhancement

(Currently on assignment as COVID Response Coordinator)


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.

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.

Jason Smith

Jason Smith - Manager, Learning Technology Services


Jason joined the ILC in 2010 and 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. and M.S. in Computer and Information Sciences from USA, and has over 17 years of experience in educational technology.

Rochelle Darragh

Rochelle Darragh - Coordinator of eLearning Services


Rochelle oversees USAonline 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 holds 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 

Hannah Wilson - Multimedia Design Specialist


Hannah joined the ILC in March 2020 and oversees the ILC Studio, graphic/web design, audio/video production, and manages all ILC social media platforms. Prior to working at USA, Hannah was the Media Director at Christ UMC for 18 years. She holds a B.A. in Radio/Television/Film from Auburn University and a B.F.A. in Graphic Design from USA.

 Headshot of Shelley Mayo

Shelley Mayo - Instructional Designer


Shelley provides Instructional Design support and facilitates course design using Canvas tools. She provides guidance and support to faculty and staff with their course designs. She received a M.A. in Sociology from USA. She also received a B.A. in Psychology from USA. She is a current Ph.D student in Instructional Design and Development at USA.

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.

2021-2022 ILC Graduate Assistants

Yolany Lagos, Phillip Ward, Michelle Loo, Lipika Arif, Ryan Keller,  Jessica McCarty, David Woolverton, Abritty Abdullah, Keone Fuqua, Marwa Alafoo, and Sean Stalley

Click here to learn more about the Graduate Lab.