How long have taught online?
What subjects have you taught?
Wildland Fire Ecology, Ecological Restoration, Introduction to Forestry.
What made you become interested in offering your classes through Ecampus?
My background is in video production and educational technology. My first foray into distance learning was as an instructional designer helping a team of professors to develop a new course. None of them wanted to teach the course once it was ready, and they suggested that I teach it instead. I became aware of distance education about 15 years ago, in the early years of the Internet. I was working in The Netherlands, and some of my colleagues were taking courses at England's Open University. After some reading and research, it was clear that distance education provided a unique and valuable service, and that the Internet was going to open an exciting new realm of possibilities.
What would you tell a student who was interested in taking your courses?
I want you to succeed and I will do everything I can to make your learning experience successful.
How do you incorporate interaction and discussion in your online classes?
Most of my students have a tremendous store of life and work experiences, they are a vital part of the learning environment. I try to select interesting topics for weekly discussion forums, and I encourage students to ask questions online rather than through private emails, so that we end up with a "FAQ" resource for everyone. I also incorporate structured peer reviews into the early stages of student projects, to foster a more collaborative atmosphere. I think that mirrors the way effective organizations work, more closely than traditional tests and term papers.
What do you see as the advantages of taking classes online?
Some people cannot pursue higher education in any other way because they are living in a remote location, working full-time or raising a family. Even students who are on campus find that an online course may be useful in managing a busy schedule. Finally, classroom lectures are not the best modality for everyone, some people find that they learn and thrive best in the online environment.
What do you enjoy about being an Ecampus instructor?
Meeting interesting people from all walks of life and all parts of the country and helping them to learn about a subject that is interesting and important. I love hearing from former students that they were able to put their new knowledge and skills to good use, or that their lives had somehow been improved by being in one of my classes. That really makes my day!
What has been the biggest surprise to you about online learning?
I often end up feeling that I know my online students better than my "face-to-face" students, even though we have never met in person.
What's one thing about yourself you'd like distance students to know?
My long-range goal is to continue to teach distance classes from my sailboat, as my wife and I travel to distant shores. Actually, I would hope that it would still seem to students like I was right there with them, helping them to learn effectively.
Get more info on our online Forest Resources Courses.
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