Insights from the Field: Creating a Safe Space for Learning


Jennifer Rafferty

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The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is reaching out to our global community of thought leaders, faculty, innovators and practitioners to bring you insights from the field of online, blended and digital learning.  This week, Dr. Donna Scribner, OLC Institute faculty for the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate and multiple workshops, joins us to discuss why innovation is subjective as well as a variety of other topics.

OLC: How do you define innovation?

Innovation is personal. What I might need to do to be “innovative” might not be the same as what someone else might need to do as might be in different places in our educational journey. While each person’s journey may be different, innovation’s common thread is the ability to try new things and develop new ideas in a safe space. The courses I teach for OLC are safe places and I encourage everyone to extend their thinking and try something new in order to be personally innovative.

OLC: What are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?

There are many ways that professionals can stay current as well as continue to grow in the field. I recommend the following:

  1. Keep abreast of scholarly literature and stay current on popular literature as well.
  2. Take workshops in areas that are unfamiliar to you.
  3. Form peer groups at the local level to keep collaboration alive.

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach?

One of my passions involves helping others create significant learning experiences for their students in the online learning environment. OLC provides that opportunity. I can make a difference! One course that I facilitate for OLC is the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate.

OLC: What are five reasons faculty should consider participating in the Advanced Online Teaching Certificate Program?

Faculty seeking professional development opportunities should consider this program because:

  1. We prove that learning is a journey and an adventure, not a destination!

  2. The instructional strategies we discuss are modeled and practiced throughout the program.
  3. With each topic learned, we build assets to use immediately in our classes.
  4. We dig deeply into the concepts of instructional design, assessment, active learning, and multi-modal instruction.

  5. We come together as a group of like-minded professional educators who are at the same point in our learning journey; educators with prior experience teaching and learning online. As such, we support and add to the learning of others as we learn ourselves.

OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?

I am enrolled in an online feed that provides both scholarly and popular information on a daily basis. It is the Online Learning Update maintained by Dr. Ray Schroeder.

OLC: How can people connect with you?  


About Dr. Donna Scribner


Dr. Donna Scribner lives in New Hampshire. Among her professional highlights of more than 35 years are teacher of mathematics for grades six – college, department chair, Director of Online Learning, Chief Learning Officer (CLO), college professor, and Vice President of the Center for Teaching and Learning at an online university. In addition, she also serves as a consultant with private companies as they move their employee training from a traditional face-to-face delivery modality to one that embraces the use of the online modality. Donna hold a B.S. from the University of NH, a M.Ed. from Antioch College New England and a Ph.D. in Instructional Design from Capella University.  Donna has a passion for improving educational opportunities for all students through the availability of well designed, innovative, and student-centered online courses. Her research interests include motivation, mathematics anxiety, especially as related to females and under-represented populations, online learning, STEM initiatives and under-represented populations and teacher/administrative leadership. In her “free” time she likes to do all sorts of crafty things which include, but are not limited to, stained glass, crocheting, knitting, and her newest adventure, learning how to spin.






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