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Online Learning & Distance Education

You can't hide in an online class

I am very comfortable with technology and the myriad ways it can be used for education. Each semester I teach the Advanced Online Teaching Strategies (AOTS) course for St. John's University, and I was the first teacher for their Online Teaching Essentials course when it began in 2014. For classes that I teach in the hospitality & tourism area I currently use Canvas and Blackboard. In the past I have used WebCT, Angel and other open-source LMSs. I generally use Canvas/Blackboard for both online and face-to-face (F2F) courses, as I feel it helps students manage the class better. In the online environment I am very intentional about creating a clear expectation at the beginning, as too many educators allow students to think the work is less than a F2F class.

One of the areas that I stress when teaching online pedagogy is that instructors should not hesitate to be human on their end of the computer. I often say the worst insult for an online professor is that the student didn't know who they were. This gets at the crux of being real with students, and finding ways to connect with them. I will intentionally record video in odd places so that the students see me in different ways. I show my personality. An example is wearing a St. John's or St. Joe's baseball cap and sharing a recent game I attended. Students are more likely to engage if they can develop a relationship (albeit through a computer) with the professor. I have met students from online courses in other countries and keep in touch long after the class has ended.

As a note, my work with Hospitalented involves using microSD technology to disseminate education to those living in areas lacking in formalized schooling. This is the HospiGo project.