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Getting to know Karen Watté

OSU Ecampus assistant director of course development and training

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Karen Watté’s work experience includes time picking strawberries as a kid and in operations management, but she found her calling as an educator who has served both students and faculty.

In 2014, Oregon State Ecampus won the Online Learning Consortium’s (OLC) Award for Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching. The award had Karen Watté’s fingerprints all over it. For nearly a decade, Karen has played a vital role in the Ecampus faculty development program, which aims to enhance online teaching effectiveness and, by extension, student success. The faculty training programs she helps develop and lead have bolstered Ecampus’ reputation as a national leader in online education. In 2015, she was named assistant director of course development and training. Karen is a two-time graduate of Oregon State and holds an MBA.


By Tyler Hansen
May 17, 2017

Hometown

Rickreall, Oregon

When did you start working at Oregon State?

2008

What’s the single biggest change that has occurred at Ecampus since you started?

“In the nine years that I’ve worked at Ecampus, the biggest change has been the sheer growth in the number of courses and programs that we offer. And with this growth in programs, there has been a corresponding growth in the number of faculty and students we work with and the number of staff on our team.” (Editor’s note: In 2008, OSU Ecampus delivered nine degree programs at a distance and had fewer than 3,000 students taking classes online. In partnership with 700-plus OSU faculty members, today Ecampus delivers more than 50 programs to more than 21,000 students worldwide.)

What do you like most about your job?

“I truly enjoy the people that I work with every day. It is truly wonderful being a part of such an extremely creative and competent team. Another very satisfying part of my job is being able to help our faculty find or discover new ways to engage with their online students.”

What was your very first job?

“My very first job was picking strawberries at a neighboring farm when I was about 12 years old. I think I earned 20 cents per pound. That job served as a great motivator to do well in school. I quickly realized that I would hate to be stuck picking strawberries to make a living the rest of my life!”

You used to teach college students, and now you train university instructors on how to more effectively teach their students. Has one been more rewarding than the other?

“I have enjoyed serving in many roles in higher education. Each has its own special rewards and challenges. In a previous position, I taught students who were primarily adults returning to school. That was very rewarding because I felt that my work had a direct impact on the student by helping them learn new skills, make progress toward a degree, and in many cases, ultimately improve their ability to better provide for their families.

“I’ve also thoroughly enjoyed my role in providing training for our university faculty and encouraging a student-centered approach to teaching. The vast majority of our faculty really strive to provide a valuable and engaging learning experience for their students, and I enjoy helping faculty find new ways to achieve that in their online classrooms.”

What’s your greatest accomplishment working for Ecampus?

“My greatest accomplishment has probably been providing support for the creation and management of a full suite of faculty development events and workshops. This includes everything from self-paced, online and in-person workshops held throughout the year, to co-coordinating our annual Faculty Forum where faculty come together to learn and share best practices in online education.”

What’s your best piece of advice for Ecampus instructors?

“Be sure to let your personality come through in your online course! Communicate regularly with your students and provide them with timely feedback. Your interaction with your students is the most important part of the student’s online experience.”

Tell us something surprising thing about you that people don’t know.

“I worked for a number of years managing several men’s formalwear stores in Seattle and Portland. I can still generally tell by looking at a man what size suit coat he should wear. And in college I was a 4-H International Exchange student to Finland.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“My time outside of work is absorbed in the activities of my three teenage daughters and my husband. I also enjoy reading, sewing and playing the piano when I have the chance.”

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