Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Fredonia: Karen Lillie

Karen Lillie

Karen E. Lillie (Ph.D., Applied Linguistics) is an Associate Professor of TESOL/Bilingual Ed at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where she works with graduate students. Her specialization is in language policy and forensic linguistics. More specifically, Dr. Lillie’s research involves examining (restrictive) language policy, language and the justice system, language discrimination, immigration, rights for language minorities, dropout rates and ELs’ schooling, language reclamation, and other sociolinguistic considerations which cut across education and law.

Dr. Lillie is Associate Editor for the Journal of Language, Identity, and Education and is on the Advisory Committee for the Language Policy Research Network (LPREN), an international group of recognized scholars who serve the field of language policy. Dr. Lillie formerly was the EL Coordinator for the school district in which she taught 9th-12th grade ELs in Arizona. Here at Fredonia, Dr. Lillie currently teaches courses dealing with sociolinguistics, educating language learners through a culturally sustaining pedagogy, second language acquisition theory, types of ELs (migrants, SIFE, adults), linguistics for educators, and educational research.

I had always been one who took an online course when a student, but never had the desire to build or teach one, especially in the field of education. I used to think it was too difficult to teach an education course when we pride ourselves on encouraging teacher candidates to think outside the box and not just lecture to their students – especially when they are language learners. We model best practices as including being highly interactive and embedding as much culture and information from the students’ lives and backgrounds as possible, even if that means stepping outside of one’s own comfort level and sitting on a floor to teach. I did not think online teaching would allow that to happen.

With the support of Lisa Melohusky here at Fredonia, I took my own motto and tried creating the first ever-in-our-program online course. I’ve now been teaching it for five years. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching it evolve over the semesters and incorporate all of the new media I have been exposed to through others who are as passionate about online learning as I have become. It’s been a wonderful shift in my instruction and I’ve learned that with all the possibilities out there today for online instruction, one is not restricted in what they can do — only in what they do not know is possible to include. Since my slow start, I have created two more courses to be fully online for our program, and have worked to create a fully-online possible degree option for Indigenous language reclamation once it’s approved at the state-level. When we have the ever expanding tools to teach this way, and can see the amazing learning that can emerge from this mode of teaching, I’m encouraged more every day.

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