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.