Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2017 – Buffalo: Brenda Battleson White
Brenda Battleson White is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Library & Information Studies in the Graduate School of Education at the University at Buffalo. She has taught online, hybrid, and in-person courses at the undergraduate and graduate level. She holds a PhD in communication and a Master of Library Science, both from the University at Buffalo.
I have been teaching online and blended courses in information studies since 2008. It has been exciting to have been part of the move from distance learning to the online environment. In the midst of this great experiment, I can honestly say that I have developed methods that have worked brilliantly as well as others that have been, well, less than successful.
The nature of our students continues to change and so must the ways in which we teach. Many online learners are not traditional full time students who can devote all of their time to study. They have jobs and children, yet are in the same programs and classes taken by full time students. How do we maintain the rigor of content and effectively transform our pedagogical methods to meet the very diverse needs of online learners? For me, being effective is to constantly question my own methods; to look at what my colleagues are doing; to embrace new technologies and to collaborate with colleagues to develop the best methods.
It is challenge to find the right balance between building structured course content while also providing as much flexibility as possible to online learners. However, maintaining multi-directional lines of open communication between and among teacher and learners is crucial. One of the foundations in the information studies field is connecting users with the information they need. Online teaching has afforded me the opportunity to do the same with students and learning. I look forward to the excitement and challenges ahead.