Elizabeth Jenkins Kimbell, MBA
Communication instructor since 1999
Classes taught online: Public Speaking; Introduction to Advertising; Advertising Copywriting
What is your favorite thing about teaching online?
What I love about teaching online courses is that I feel like we are “reaching out” to students who would otherwise not be able to finish their degrees in a traditional face-to-face, synchronous-style course.
What is the biggest challenge you see students facing in online courses?
Definitely, the biggest challenge (to a course when technology is running smoothly) is establishing community. It can be very lonely in an online course if the instructor has not worked to establish that vital sense of community between the students. Students can, and lots of times do, feel isolated. This is important because research indicates community impacts student satisfaction, retention, and learning. Students want and need to feel that they belong. In my public speaking course, we get to know each other right away in a cyber café discussion forum. Prior to the first speech, students cyber chat about their speaking anxieties in another discussion forum. By sharing in this way, students realize they are not alone in their anxieties. Support can be found within the learning community.
If you could provide any advice to a future online learner, what would it be?
Be organized and accountable—and make time management a priority. Your instructor is more of a coach on the sideline. His/her job is to create an environment that guides you to acquire and apply the information by yourself. Students assume a great deal more responsibility for their own learning in online courses.