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Lecturers explore digital learning

Barbara Nicoll and Nori Murphy spoke about creating digital learning environments Monday in the President’s Dining Room. As part of the Faculty Lecture Series, Nicoll, professor of education and director of child development graduate programs, and Murphy, instructional technology and multimedia specialist, presented the findings of a research survey that compared the change of educators’ attitudes between the years 2009 and 2010 concerning the online versus the traditional classroom experience. / photo by David Bess

Jennahway Huerta
Staff Writer

Students, faculty and staff gathered in the President’s Dining Room to hear Barbara Nicoll, professor of education, and Nori Murphy, instructional technology and multimedia specialist, present a lecture called “Creating a Digital Learning Environment: A Study of One Department of Education” on Monday.

“Online is happening in education everywhere; people are on social networks,” Nicoll said. “The train is leaving the station.”

The lecture involved research, feedback and potential ideas for the University of La Verne to offer to students and instructors.

Nicoll made an analogy about the University’s online study and how the school needs to hop on the train before it misses its opportunity and leaves the station.

Our faculty members have similar beliefs to other faculty around the country. The Center for Teaching and Learning plays a key role in supporting faculty who are ready to be trained to teach online or hybrid courses.

Faculty are moving forward at their own pace and in two years we have already seen significant changes. These certifications include program chair leadership and decision-making, Nicoll said.

“People know I would not say it, if it were not true,” Nicoll said

Nicoll and Murphy did research about the digital learning environment that has taken place in the last couple years.

The responses from a survey were from a population of people that were involved with education at the University. These questions involved motivation factors, prevention barriers and more.

“The majority of respondents are tenured, teach on main campus and have completed degrees and coursework more than 10 years ago,” Nicoll said.

Once the data was collected it showed a change in response.

“After teaching a course online, there is a shift in belief; skill based and experimental courses could be taught online,” Nicoll said.

The concern of interaction amongst professor and students were discussed in the layout of the online course.

“The discussion forum are one of the many primary tools for engagement online,” Murphy said.

This online program will not hide the student and more likely have them complete coursework reading. A greater number of students learn more and instructors know every student individually, Nicoll said.

One of the barriers to this transition is time. In order to create a digital learning environment in a College of Education, a person must support and encourage leadership when they are ready to come on board.

Also for this to work faculty development departments need to be in place and provide faculty with tools and support, Nicoll and Murphy said.

“The lecture was good and informative,” Angel Kennedy, sophomore international business and language major, said.

“At first, I was opposed to online classes, but after hearing this lecture I would now consider to take an online class.”

“It would be a great idea to have online courses or programs offered at the University of La Verne,” Avneet Nijjar, sophomore biology major, said. “It would allow options for students to take a face to face course or online.”

“It is great to hear and see how the University of La Verne is embracing online teaching for students needs,” Erin Gratz, web and instructional librarian, said.

Jennahway Huerta can be reached at jennahway.huerta@laverne.edu.

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