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Online Learning Part II

Last week, we shared the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE) initiative to identify, recognize, and showcase exemplary online instructors.  To represent Purchase College, the School of Liberal Studies selected Kenneth Mann and Barbara McMullen for this distinction based on their passionate and skilled online instruction.  They are featured on the Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassadors website and will be sharing their insights with the Open SUNY community of practice throughout the year.

Last week, we shared Barbara McMullen’s narrative regarding online teaching, and encourage you to read it if you have not yet had the opportunity.  Below, we share Kenneth Mann’s narrative, in which he shares a powerful example of how students can truly thrive in an online class environment.  We are proud to have selected Kenn as an Online Teaching Ambassador.

-Kathy Ceng

“I am a clinical psychologist and I received my training at Columbia University, Pace University and the New York City public hospital system. I hold a Psy.D. in Clinical Psychology, an M.A. degree in curriculum and teaching and a M.Ed. in School Psychology.  I am working in a variety of settings representing various populations where I provide psychotherapy and psychological assessment for people aged 12 to 93.  I am working with adolescents who have psychiatric challenges in a therapeutic program located within a public school.  In addition, I am working with residents in an assisted and independent living facility and I have maintained a private practice working with a range of clients.  I have been an instructor for Psychology courses at Purchase College and at several other colleges in the New York area for the past 27 years.  It is at SUNY Purchase that I have had the most unique opportunities over that time – from developing, designing and implementing courses (such as Social Psychology Applied Through Film) to being involved in creating fully on line and hybrid courses in Psychology since we first began experimenting with these models of teaching and learning.

I have seen the value of being able to offer students these types of learning opportunities.  There have been several on line courses that I have facilitated where the communication, interaction and depth of discussion have actually surpassed what I had been able to achieve in similar sections of the same course being offered as face to face classes through a semester.  As digital natives, so many of the participants in our courses are ready to respond to on line learning with no learning curve required.  I will always remember one particular student who was a superlative participant in a fully on line 3 week intensive course that I facilitated.  Then she was in a full semester weekly face to face course with me the next semester and I was thrilled that she was going to be a part of that group.  She presented as withdrawn, distracted – even sullen at times.  At the end of the second class meeting I met with her and shared with her my observations and how different she was in class as compared to the on line class.  She explained to me that she struggled with anxiety and she could never speak in class, make eye contact with me or engage in the way that she had in the on line course.  We both agreed that I was a “safe” facilitator and she agreed to say one thing at some time in class some time before it was over.  And she did.  I would never have known this potential within her if I had not worked with her on line and I would have misinterpreted her presentation in class as well.”

-Kenneth Mann