Teaching in the Concordia Portland Online Program
As a dyed-in-the-wool, look-them-in-the-eye, watch-for-the-light-bulb-to-go-on kind of teacher, I was concerned about moving into the cyberclassroom. I have always used visual cues to determine if my students, at the elementary level and at the collegiate level, were engaged, and to determine understanding and to discern questions. How could a warm, student-centered classroom be implemented online?
A former elementary principal and superintendent of schools, I have always felt that professional development for staff directly impacts student performance. Teaching in the Concordia University-Portland online program has reflected the best instructional practices within the online venue.
The courses are written in an engaging manner. New staff members are paired with a veteran instructor to ensure quality instruction and to provide mentoring. These instructor partnerships provide individual support and immediate feedback for instructors.
Each week, an online staff meeting is held. The online program chairpersons lead the meetings. Technical issues and student concerns are addressed. There is a professional development topic each week that ranges from best instructional practices to library resources to promoting professional writing skills.
The provost of Concordia University-Portland usually attends one meeting to welcome the staff and to acquaint the staff with the history and goals of the university. This develops a feeling of being part of the campus and university program. I find myself making statements like “we” (Concordia Portland) offer these programs and services to “our students.”
The atmosphere at Concordia Portland’s online Master of Education program reflects the professionalism and enthusiasm of a world-class university. The collegiality that is developed among the staff is then reflected in the cyberclassroom. Students are engaged with their instructors and with each other through the cohort system. The discussions within each class rival and I feel many times surpass the academic discussions in a face-to-face classroom. Every student participates and therefore, adds to the depth of the learning.
From my experience as an online instructor for Concordia Portland, I can, without any reservations, say that I totally and completely recommend this experience to anyone who is thinking about continuing his or her education in a graduate program.