Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2017 – Monroe: Elizabeth Johnston
Elizabeth Johnston received her PhD in 18th C. British Literature, with an emphasis on women writers, from West Virginia University in 2005. A widely-published scholar and creative writer, she works in the English and Philosophy department at Monroe Community College in Rochester, NY, where she teaches writing, literature, and gender studies.
Elizabeth has been the recipient of a number of awards and fellowships related to online teaching and learning. From 2012-2013 she served as a fellow for the Community Center for Teaching Excellence. She won the 2014 SUNY Excellence in Teaching Award and, more recently, the 2017 SUNY’s Spring Traveling Lecturer Award to St. Petersburg, Russia. She is also currently taking coursework so that she can be matched with another professor in SUNY’s Collaborative Online International Learning program. In Summer 2017 she will meet with faculty in Novgorod to discuss potential collaboration through COIL.
I am deeply committed to the promise inherent in online learning of insuring equal access to all students. I have been teaching fully online and web-enhanced classes since 2007 and have been instrumental in designing a number of online literature courses, including Women in Literature and both British Literature surveys. As the former Composition Coordinator for four years, I have received a number of grants aimed at improving the curriculum and design of online composition courses. Additionally, I have advocated for and piloted open educational resources. Since 2014, I have served as an outside consultant for Excelsior College’s Online Writing and Reading Labs and am currently piloting several OER sections as part of MCC’s Achieving the Dream grant. I have also worked closely with Institutional Research at MCC to collect and analyze both qualitative and quantitative data related to student success in online composition courses.
In 2015, I applied for and was awarded Professional Leave for the Advancement of the College so I could take courses through SUNY Albany’s Certificate of Online Learning and Teaching. In my coursework, I designed a fully multimodal online Honors Composition course as well as an online mini-course about patchwriting. In May 2016, I also participated in the ten-day Digital Media and Composition Institute at the Ohio State University in Columbus. My participation at DMAC enabled me to integrate innovative Web 2.0 tools into my face-to-face and online courses, including a final project which requires students to work collaboratively to create a website.
I know that enrollment in online college courses will continue to grow in response to several factors, among them a more technologically-literate student population seeking flexibility in learning options; our increasingly globalized world; and ever-increasing financial pressures on colleges. At the same time, I am deeply committed to the integrity of the online experience, believing that courses like composition and introduction to literature must be taught with the same rigor as face-to-face courses while also providing students with a richly collaborative, multimodal experience. To this end, I advocate for the support innovative faculty need to implement best practices in online teaching and the support all students, but particularly high-risk students, need to be successful in the online classroom.