Central Washington University, College of Arts and Humanities, Department of English, Faculty, Faculty Mentoring, Higher Education, Multimodal Learning, Online Education, Out of the Box Thinking, Uncategorized

Great Online Teachers Are Made

By Stacey Robertson

Now that spring term is over and diplomas have been earned and distributed, one could easily conclude that all must be quiet at the College of Arts and Humanities at Central Washington University.

That assumption is far from the truth. The arrival of the solstice also harkens the beginning of our outstanding and cost-effective summer-school sessions. These intensive six-and-nine week sessions offer students the opportunity to continue to make progress toward their degrees throughout the summer.


At our Ellensburg campus, summer school also provides new challenges for our talented faculty. Because the vast majority of our students depart the Kittitas Valley during the summer, we offer most of our courses online. In response, more of our faculty are converting their ten-week, in-person courses into online offerings for the summer.

For those instructors who already incorporate online technologies and digital materials into their face-to-face courses, this transition is straightforward and comfortable. For others, the move to online can be intimidating. Thankfully, all CWU faculty can rely on the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Chris Schedler and his team at the CWU Office of Multimodal Learning.


An award-winning teacher-scholar, Dr. Schedler earned his Ph.D in English from University of California Santa Barbara in 1999 and has been teaching American and multicultural literature at CWU for 13 years. His passion for different methods of teaching made him the perfect candidate for Executive Director of Multimodal Learning.

While the onset and spread of online learning has generated controversy on campuses throughout the U.S. and the world, Dr. Schedler believes online education is here to stay because it provides educational access for place-bound and non-traditional learners as well as offering course-scheduling flexibility and accelerating time-to-degree for on-campus students. By gaining fluency in instructional technologies and digital pedagogy, faculty can provide our students with a quality education and at the same time fulfill our mission and core values.

Dr. Schedler and his outstanding Multimodal Learning team – including instructional technologists, media technicians, librarians and faculty fellows – assist faculty members with all aspects of the online experience including Canvas (our online learning management system), Panopto (for voice over PowerPoint lectures), streaming media, online tests, discussion boards, group projects and virtual office hours.

Dr. Schedler notes that some aspects of online teaching can enrich the educational experience in unique ways. For example, an online discussion may empower those who are shy or reticent to find their voice. It may also lead to more nuanced discussion thanks to additional time and distance.

The CWU College of Arts and Humanities, already renowned for its dynamic on-campus programs and faculty expertise, has gained national recognition for its new Online Professional and Creative Writing degree. We will continue to seek new instructional methods and technologies (such as augmented and virtual reality), which can expand our ability to spread liberal arts education throughout the Pacific Northwest and around the world.




1 thought on “Great Online Teachers Are Made”

  1. Just minutes after reading this post about online teaching, my subscription to VITAE (a Chronicle of Higher Ed service) popped into my mailbox, with an essay called, “There’s No Such Thing as Asynchronous Teaching.” (Ironically, I was using both to avoid the mountain of grammar homework I need to grade from my online class!)

    I struggle with teaching online — hate it in fact. (All the pain, none of the pleasure being my take away so far after 6-7 years.) That’s why I’ve never done more than offer my Copy Editing class online. Teaching grammar and headline writing I can fathom “asynchronously.” On the other hand, my First Amendment class, in which we debate hot topics pretty much all class, every class, I cannot bring myself to offer online. (Though if I ever want to teach it again in the summer, I’ll have to think about it, as I’ve only had 3-6 students the past few years, and this summer, attracted nobody.) But this article gave me some great food for thought — as did the blog post.


    Suffice it to say, I would happily sign up for a more in-depth workshop on the “no such thing as asynchronous” topic. Or for any other workshop that would help me figure out how to move online the heavily discussion-based classes, or the advanced writing classes I teach. (Something else I can’t fathom, as I know how much students learn from in-class writing exercises where I’m roaming and giving feedback over their shoulders.) But given we’re now offering an entire writing degree online, maybe that’s something Chris and Kathy could help me with.

    Hope you find this article helpful as well!


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