Field Experts Provide Context to Content in the Online Environment

Concurrent Session 2
Community College

Brief Abstract

Leading higher education textbook publishers have long-incorporated subject matter experts into their online ancillaries using media to carry industry-relevant messages. Research indicates this practice helps students make a real world connection to the material. In industry-related fields, in particular, the voice of an industry expert gives context to content.


Cheryl Fulghum oversees the department of Instructional Design and Online Learning at Haywood Community College in western North Carolina. In this role, she is responsible for instructional design through faculty development, online course design, emerging technologies research, accessibility compliance, and the administrations of several learning platforms. She describes her main role as faculty cheerleader, empowering faculty to become 21st century teachers despite self-identified low-tech skills and fear of the unknown. Prior to her work in the online learning field, she served as full-time faculty in the commercial arts and worked as project manager and media content creator for Shadowbox Design, an educational technology company specializing in online ancillaries for higher education textbook publishers. She has degrees in Broadcast Communications, Journalism, and Educational Media: Curriculum and Instruction.
Brad Hughes is the Networking Technology instructor at Haywood Community College in western North Carolina. In this role, he prepares students to support network infrastructures to provide reliable transmission and delivery of data, voice, image, and video communications in business and industry, as well as the design, installation, configuration, and management of network infrastructure technology and network operating systems. Prior to teaching, he worked in financial and higher education industries as an Enterprise Content Manager, Database Administrator, Project Manager, and Programmer. He is particularly interested in researching new technologies and working with teams to build and enhance new features and applications.

Extended Abstract

Inspired by the affordances of technology and the quest to make online information technology course experiences more human, the Information Technology program in the Business and Industry department at Haywood Community College has introduced the voice of the industry expert into its curriculum.

In a series of information security courses, instructor Brad Hughes and instructional designer Cheryl Fulghum bring the real world into the online classroom with the help of local security experts. The program reaches out to security specialists and network administrators within a 100-mile radius to create brief introductions and mini-lectures for the concepts, units, topics and projects in the course.

A network solutions field expert turned college instructor, Hughes knows the importance of providing students with a foundational understanding of industry concentrations. He provides a rich media introduction for each module, explaining learning objectives and creating anticipation for the industry expert’s segment. Connecting the material to a field expert creates meaning and context. Building a robust curriculum, inclusive of field experts as guest lecturers, consultants, and mentors, improves performance and qualifies successful graduates.

The presentation will provide an overview of the project as a new course model, including the timeline of concept to implementation. Resources will include a template for communicating with field experts and a project spreadsheet showing the division of labor between instructor and instructional designer. The session will conclude with a 10-minute Q&A. Guest access to a sample course will be provided during the presentation and made available to participants after the conference, upon request.