By Heather Junke
originally published May/June 2011
Camille Rutherford, assistant professor of Education at Brock University, always gives her students a few minutes to settle in before starting class.
Rutherford listens to the usual pre-class chatter, but she’s not standing at the front of a campus lecture hall. It’s Sunday at 4 o’clock in the afternoon and Rutherford and her students are at their respective homes.
They have all signed into class remotely for the weekly two-hour live session delivered via Elluminate Live!, a web-based virtual environment.
That was the scenario last semester for this class of Adult Education students who were taking the newly offered elective, ADED 4P96 – Introduction to Leadership Theory in Adult Learning. In facilitating the course, Rutherford’s teaching duties included moderating the online session in which students interacted through text chat and audio windows.
This online course is being offered again in the spring and fall sessions. It’s part of the continuing work of the Centre for Adult Education and Community Outreach as it takes a lead role in the application of virtual learning technologies for Brock’s Adult Education online students.
The course gives students the option of participating in the weekly live sessions or accessing the recordings of each session that are posted to SAKAI, Brock’s learning management system. The weekly readings and assignments for the course are also posted on SAKAI.
“It sounds a little odd holding a class on Sunday afternoon, but it seemed to work best for this group of students, especially the 4 o’clock timeslot since some students live in other time zones,” Rutherford says.
She adds that utilizing a program like Elluminate provides a highly interactive online experience. “If you are an online learner and you want to be engaged in the classroom activity, this is the next best thing to being face to face,” says Rutherford.
“For students, it’s a very short learning curve to grasp the program. I knew that I had captured the group’s imagination for this kind of technology when, early in the semester, one of the students hit the applause button to indicate his enthusiasm during a discussion.”
Technology aside, the subject of leadership is a particularly popular topic as demonstrated by the strong registration numbers for this new elective undergraduate course.
“Many Adult Educations students are professionals who hold leadership positions and they want to enhance their leadership skills,” she says.
“Everyone wants to be a leader – a better leader. They can recognize how this course will lead to personal growth. We’ve designed the course to be very self reflective. There is a journal component that asks ‘Who am I as a leader now and where do I want to be?' Each chapter ends with a case study and provides an opportunity each week to take away real applications. Just like the technology—it’s illuminating.”
Brock’s Centre for Adult Education and Community Outreach offers the longest-running adult education degree and certificate programs in the province. The BEd in Adult Education is unique in Ontario as it offers both first and subsequent degree options.
The Adult Education application deadline for fall 2011 is July 15. To find out more about pursuing a Brock degree or certificate in Adult Education please visit http://www.brocku.ca/education/futurestudents/adulted.