Insights from the Field: The ‘We’ in Teaching and Innovation


Dr. Jill Buban, Sr. Director Research & Innovation, Online Learning Consortium

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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, Leah Chuchran-Davis, instructor for the OLC Institute Instructional Design Mastery Series, joins us to discuss the ‘we’ in teaching, innovation, and other topics. 

OLC: There are many opportunities to teach online. Why did you choose OLC?

OLC is a prestigious organization that provides excellent authentic learning opportunities for professionals to pursue relevant and practical skills for their specific level of training, interests and areas of expertise.  I chose OLC because of the organization’s culture and positive attitude towards online learning, as well as OLC’s mission to serve the global community, openness to change and willingness to meet learners’ needs in the online environment. Also, I enjoy the fact that I can take risks and be innovative in the courses I teach for OLC. I strongly believe in modeling these approaches while working with others in this dynamic field.   

OLC: What are the 3 most important things prospective participants should know about the OLC course that you teach?

For the Instructional Design Mastery Series, participants should know that:

  1. Right from the beginning, we spend a great deal of time, building a learning community.
  2. Once the learning community is established, we spend the next few months working on a specific course of choice to learn about the foundation of instructional design. principles, by evaluating learning outcomes, instructional strategies and course design.
  3. We spend 3 hours of synchronous live time together which is interactive and fun, while also providing a sounding board and continuum of the learning community.

OLC: Define innovation.

Innovation is the ability or willingness to try something new and take a risk (or two), especially when the activity may be out of one’s comfort zone.  As a teacher, innovation can mean to trying a new type of assignment or introducing a new technology in the classroom, whether the modality is online, blended or a face-to-face course. The fear of failure might prohibit instructors from taking a chance but I’ve found, more often than not, if an instructor is engaged and actively communicating throughout the process of introducing something innovative in the class, the learners will offer input and feedback.  While I am an innovative instructor,  I do not propose to be innovative for innovation’s sake only; the innovative practice or method and the instructional goals must be aligned.

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 e-education field. I recommend the following three ways:

  • Learn. Be engaged in professional enrichment and growth opportunities, and seek out training, development and engaging ways to set and meet your goals. In other words, be committed to lifelong learning.
  • Network. If you can, travel to connect with professionals in your area of expertise and interests. If you’re not able to travel, find online communities and attend specific Twitter Chats to find out what others are doing and how they are doing it.
  • Research and implement. If you have an idea, research it, take the idea to the next level and implement it. Take the risk, see what happens. Learn from it, evaluate the experience and make changes for improvement. 

OLC: Leah, how can our community connect with you?

My faculty page:


About Leah Chuchran-Davis

Leah has been in the field of online learning for over a decade, beginning her online adventure as a student in 2005. As an online student, Leah completed her master’s degree in organizational management & leadership and a graduate certificate in instructional technologies, since 2006 Leah has been an online instructor and curriculum/course developer. Currently, she is the digital learning specialist at the Emory Center of Digital Scholarship at Emory University in Atlanta, GA.  Leah’s research interests include open educational resources (OERs), digital badges, micro-credentials and effective practices to build authentic learning communities and humanizing the online classroom.
When Leah isn’t teaching, serving as the online guru at Emory University, or researching topics in the field, you can find her with her 5 children or practicing/teaching yoga; something she has been doing for 20 years!

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