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Behind the scenes with Katherine Hubler

History instructor, OSU Ecampus coordinator

Katherine-Hubler

“My most dynamic classes are often those that have a significant contingent of students who are parents of small children, working professionals, grandparents and (current and former) members of the armed forces living abroad…I think that our locally based students who enroll online also benefit from the more diverse online classroom,” says Ecampus History Instructor Katherine Hubler. Photo courtesy Mina Carson.

By Heather Doherty  
June 30, 2017

A first-generation college student, Katherine Hubler is passionate about creating opportunities for learners across the world to gain access to a quality education. As an on-campus and online history instructor and Oregon State Ecampus coordinator for the School of History, Philosophy, and Religion in the OSU College of Liberal Arts since 2013, Katherine enjoys working with students from diverse backgrounds who bring a breadth of knowledge and experience to her courses. Katherine earned a Ph.D. and M.A. in History from Boston College and a B.A. in Philosophy and B.S. in History from Oregon State.  


What do you like most about teaching history online?

“I feel proud to be participating in a method of teaching that provides greater access to education. I am myself a first-generation college student from a rural area and am, therefore, a big believer in the transformative power of education to not only provide economic opportunities, but also to open up one’s local world to the richness of human experience. The fact that our history courses can be taken by anyone in the world is exciting to me and reflects the egalitarian possibilities of online education.

“I enjoy working with a diverse array of students from different age groups, geographic locations and cultural backgrounds in my online classes. The fact that the student population is typically quite varied allows for interesting class assignments, such as the Cold War oral history project that my students in HST 103 complete, which emphasizes the way that geographic location and cultural context shape individual experiences.

“My most dynamic classes are often those that have a significant contingent of students who are parents of small children, working professionals, grandparents and (current and former) members of the armed forces living abroad. I particularly enjoy the perspective that so-called ‘non-traditional’ students — especially those returning after a gap in their studies — bring to class discussions. I think that our locally based students who enroll online also benefit from the more diverse online classroom.”

What are the benefits of online learning?

“Flexibility is likely the number one reason that students chose to take online classes. I think, however, that many people overlook that fact that online courses allow for significantly more one-on-one interaction with the course instructor. This is particularly true in our online history classes, which have a much lower student enrollment cap than our on-campus courses. Online students are also required to actively contribute regularly to the course, which provides several more opportunities to interact with and receive feedback from instructors.”

“I feel proud to be participating in a method of teaching that provides greater access to education.”

How can earning an undergraduate degree in history help students in their futures?

“At a basic level, the study of history allows students to better understand the historical origins of contemporary problems. Studying history helps to make students aware of the factors that have shaped identities and conflicts in the past and can hopefully help students approach contemporary conflicts and crises — on individual and societal scales — with a greater sense of awareness, responsibility and empathy. While the study of history is not itself prescriptive — it cannot tell us what we should do — it does provide caution signs that help to warn us against what not to do. I know it sounds hackneyed at this point, but studying history can help students become better citizens of the world.

“At a more tangible level, students hone their reading, research and writing skills in history courses. By the time students complete a bachelor’s degree in history, they will know how to locate, consume and distill large quantities of information and marshal a persuasive argument based on evidence. These critical skills are essential to many professions. And studying history also makes a person better at Jeopardy. I think that’s been scientifically proven at this point.”

How do you build a genuine connection with students who, in many cases, you’ll never meet in person?

“It might seem counterintuitive, but it often happens that I get to know my online students better than my on-campus students. This is primarily due to the fact that my online students routinely produce more weekly written work and therefore receive more individual feedback, which allows for more opportunities to interact and explore deeper issues. The back and forth dialogue prompted by grading feedback sometimes leads to longer email exchanges about current events and suggestions for further reading related to the course. Over the years of teaching classes on campus, grading papers often seemed like a static, one-sided experience. In my Ecampus courses, grading often takes on a dynamic dimension.”

“I enjoy working with a diverse array of students from different age groups, geographic locations and cultural backgrounds in my online classes.”

Briefly describe any current research projects you’re working on.

“In terms of research, my current project examines a group of Central European revolutionary exiles and their contributions to women’s rights movements of the 1850s and 1860s. This research is starting to move in an unexpected direction – out of the German-speaking world, so I might be learning Czech at some point in the near future. I am also currently redeveloping HST 425: The Holocaust in its History, and plan to incorporate several digital humanities tools into the course.”

What advice would you like to give to students?

“First off, don’t hesitate to contact your instructor or academic advisor if you are struggling with the course material or having trouble completing assignments. In my experience, distance students are more reluctant than on-campus students to reach out for help when needed.

“Also, please remember that no matter where you live, the OSU Library is at your disposal. Ecampus Librarian Stefanie Buck is a fantastic resource.”

What are your favorite activities outside of work?

“When I’m not in the lecture hall or in front of my computer grading, I spend a lot of time hanging out with my sons and running outdoors. I also love to pickle vegetables, watch movies from the 1940s and drink sparkling wine. Sometimes all at the same time.”

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