Distinguished Faculty in Online Education
Dr. Sharon Smaldino
L. D. and Ruth Morgridge Endowed Chair for Teacher Education, College of Education
Dr. Sharon Smaldino teaches graduate courses in Instructional Technology, Distance Education, and Professional Standards and Ethical Practice. She has researched and presented on applications of technology in the classroom and in distance education, and has published extensively on instructional technology applications.
Smaldino finds developing online courses very rewarding. She enjoys pushing the boundaries of technology to benefit students. “It’s important to me to consider how to engage the students in their learning and what types of activities will optimize their learning. Once I have determined what quality learning experiences to include, the next challenge is to find ways to create them within the realm of the technology resources,” says Smaldino.
Smaldino has employed a variety of techniques from asynchronous discussion board postings to virtual face-to-face meetings in Second Life. She believes that convenience and cost make online learning a strong option for working students who need to balance their career, education, and family responsibilities. She also believes that students who might not participate in traditional class discussions will find more opportunity to engage in discussions.
“Online discussions give students time to think about the topics and frame their contributions coherently,” says Smaldino. “Often in a face-to-face class students can be marginalized by a few dominant folks or a language issue that prevents all the students from participating.”
Dr. Smaldino’s advice to students considering online learning, “Online learning experiences do require you, the student, to assume responsibility for your learning. But, you will find that when you have participated in a quality online experience, your learning experiences will be outstanding. Most students report that in the end, they learned more about the content and more about themselves as learners than they ever expected.”