Our Story » Why Etudes» Board 

Eric IchonEric Ichon


Last year, Eric Ichon retired as the Dean of Distance Learning & Instructional Technology for West Los Angeles College (WLAC) where he founded and led the program for over 20 years. Eric recently joined Los Angeles Pierce College as a Distance Education Support Specialist. West and Pierce were founding members of California’s Online Education Initiative (OEI) and previously partnered on a Quality Matters Initiative for the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).

Prior to joining the LACCD Eric worked at the Immaculate Heart College Center and the Braille Institute. He received a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and a master’s degree in Information and Library Science from the University of Texas.

Eric serves as the Chair of the Etudes Board of Directors and was one of the original Advisory Board members.

Matt CoombsMatt Coombs


Matt is currently Vice President of Business Development at CidiLabs. He has spent his career marrying technology with learning by overseeing strategic education software projects, partnerships and institutional improvements. Matthew has provided leadership both inside of education institutions and as part of organizations supporting and providing services to K20 institutions throughout the world.

Matt is dedicated to providing, for all students, regardless of situation or background, the opportunity to succeed in academic endeavors. He has contributed to the building of a student academic performance platform, an open source Student SIS, the most prolific higher education portal in use today and a community-wide adaptive virtual desktop environment for students.

Prior to joining Cidi Labs, Matthew was COO of eLumen, CTO of Hartnell College, Director of IS at Delta College, and Strategic Architect/Snr. Product Manager at Ellucian. He has also been active in multiple open source projects, such as Kuali, Etudes, Drupal and Sakai.

Matt holds an M.S. in Instructional Technology from Utah State University and was raised by his wife and 5 children. When not talking to an institution, you can find Matt being walked on the beach by his dog or nearly drowning in the nearby pacific ocean attached to a boogie, surf or paddle board.

Margie WhiteMargie White


Margie White is an educational consultant, trainer, and online instructor. She has worked in the California Community College system since 1995. She has taught a variety of Business and technical online classes for over ten years and also provides instructional and technical support to online instructors at College of the Siskiyous. She had been an Etudes certified trainer since 2006 and is completing her Ph.D. in Instructional Design for Online Learning.

Jim MarteneyJim Marteney

Board Member

Jim Marteney is a Professor Emeritus of Communication Studies. His last years of full time teaching were spent as the Distance Education Trainer for Los Angeles Valley College and Etudes. He then trained instructors for the Los Angeles Community College District in online teaching strategies. Jim continues teaching Argumentation and Critical Thinking online.

Jim earned a Bachelors Degrees in both Communication and Economics, and Masters in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has authored the textbook, Arguing Using Critical Thinking that is available at Libretext. Jim’s long educational career has included lecturing at UCSB, Cal Lutheran University and Los Angeles Valley College, and other community colleges.

When not teaching Jim is working on improving his music skills, especially the banjo, which is really testing his wife’s tolerance.


Vivian VarelaVivian Varela

Board Member

Vivian Varela is a Professor of Sociology and Distance Education Coordinator at Mendocino College. She holds a BA degree in Sociology from Chico State University (CSU) and an MA in Education, with a specialty in online teaching and learning, through Cal State Hayward, fully online. She earned a second master’s degree in sociology from Cal State Bakersfield in 2006. Because her mother had returned to college during Varela’s childhood, she says, “I knew it was possible.” When working on her BA in Sociology and MS in Education-Online Teaching and Learning, Vivian honed her passion for online learning; without the online opportunities she would not be where she is today.

While serving as Distance Education Coordinator at Mendocino College, Varela has helped the Distance Education program grow and when the pandemic forced most classes online, she single-handedly provided online training for 270 faculty who had never taught online. She has served on five ACCJC Accreditation Teams and has served on several ASCCC statewide committees including curriculum and distance education.

Vivian Varela has served as an Etudes trainer in LMS tools and online teaching andragogy, supporting faculty in distance education for over a decade.


Vivie SinouVivie Sinou

Officer (non-voting)

Vivie leads, manages, and supports the Etudes organization, in addition to her primary role as Dean of Regional & Distance Education at San Joaquin Delta College. She is responsible for the strategic planning and vision of Etudes, as well as application development and management.  Prior to Delta, Sinou was Dean of Learning Technology and Innovations at Foothill College, where she also formed the ETUDES Consortium, and extended learning management system services and support to California Community Colleges. In May of 2008, Vivie founded Etudes, Inc., and led Etudes from a campus project to a non-profit 501(c)(3), public charity organization that leads open source development and offers e-learning services to higher education institutions. Vivie also spear-headed the Sofia initiative for undergraduate education, and is helping shape the vision of both open source and open education resources.  

Vivie was the recipient of the 2002 Technology Leadership Award from the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office. She also received the League Innovator of the Year Award for Foothill De Anza Community College District (2002).