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. Julia VanderMolen, instructor for the Online Science Labs Mastery Series and multiple workshops, joins us to discuss why we should investigate new ways to engage our students, as well as a variety of other topics.
OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the courses that you teach?
When asked what are the three most important things participants should know about the courses that I teach the first term that comes to mind is collaboration. I like to encourage peer-to-peer and student-to-instructor collaboration. Collaboration helps to build a sense of community within my course by providing a content, social and teaching presence. Another key element I stress to the students is a set of clear expectations regarding communication and time commitment for the course. I actually state to students in a learning module that they should expect to spend six to eight hours during the week on content and assignments. Finally, I make use of both synchronous and asynchronous technologies. In an online learning environment, an instructor’s role becomes one as a guide to motivate the learner. The use of synchronous and asynchronous technologies provide different modes of feedback to help every type of learner.
OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC and which Institute course(s) do you teach for OLC?
I value the mission and goals of the organization and I currently facilitate a number of workshops for OLC. I have taught Introduction to Audio & Video Tools and Creating Infographics for Learning, just to name a few. I also teach the Online Science Labs Mastery Series.
OLC: How do you define innovation?
Innovation is the catalyst that leads an educator to investigate an instructional technique to meet the needs of multiple learning styles. The use of new technologies as a way to enhance classroom instruction can provide engagement and collaboration to boost student learning.
OLC: OLC’s Institute offerings help professionals stay current in their prospective fields, and often times assist in the advancement of their profession. What do you believe are the top 3 ways in which professionals in our field can stay current and move ahead?
I believe that professionals can stay current and move ahead in their field by staying abreast of new ideas as they relate to the field. Reading new literature and staying current on topics is important, as well as understanding new tools that can be used within the field.
OLC: What was the last book, journal or article you read that relates to the field?
The last paper that I read was “Initially, We Were Just Names on a Computer Screen”: Designing Engagement in Online Teacher Education, which can be found in the Australian Journal of Teacher Education.
OLC: How can people connect with you?
About Dr. Julia VanderMolen
Dr. Julia VanderMolen is an Assistant Professor in the Allied Health Sciences program within the College of Health Professions at Grand Valley State University. Dr. VanderMolen received her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with an emphasis in Career and Technical Education from Western Michigan University. She has a M.Ed in Educational Technology from Grand Valley State University, a MA in Health Science from the University of Alabama, a MS in Biology from Clemson University and a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Western Michigan University. She is a recipient of the 2011 Teaching Excellence Award from Davenport University and 2012 and 2014 Blackboard Exemplary Course Award winner for online teaching in health and science. She has presented at a number of conferences on the topic of educational technology and online learning. She has expertise in online learning and currently provides expertise to numerous organizations in the area of health education, health promotion, health literacy, online teaching and learning, and assistive technology. In addition to advising and mentoring students on various projects, Dr. VanderMolen teaches the following undergraduate courses Medical Terminology, Introduction to Healthcare, Healthcare Management, Introduction to Health Care Research, Issues in Health Professions and Advanced Medical Terminology. Dr. VanderMolen’s research interests include health literacy, community health, health assessment and assistive technology.