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VSU Recognizes Faculty Online Teaching Certificate Graduates

VALDOSTA – With online teaching and learning becoming more common in higher education, Valdosta State University faculty are returning to the classroom to learn effective online teaching practices and how online technologies can enhance their course design.

VSU recently celebrated six faculty who successfully completed the university’s new – and highly in-demand – Online Teaching Certificate program. This is the first cohort to earn the credential, which consists of nine courses covering a variety of topics, including learning, using, and mastering BlazeVIEW; creating content for online classes; effective online teaching; experiential learning for online classes; and creating community in online classes.

Presented by the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and the Center for eLearning, the Online Teaching Certificate pilot launched in June 2022, followed by a university-wide launch in August 2022. It is designed to help faculty across all academic disciplines make better use of educational technology and master the art of teaching online learners.

Online learning has shown significant growth over the last few years, especially since the global health crisis known as COVID-19, which forced people around the world to transition to remote learning, working, and even socializing. VSU’s Online College for Career Advancement, for example, has grown nearly 300 percent since its launch in April 2021.

“I have been heartened to see so many VSU faculty express an interest in training in online teaching,” said Bryan FitzGerald, training specialist with VSU’s Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Center for eLearning. “While many elements of good pedagogy translate well from the face-to-face environment into the online space, there are also specific needs and challenges associated with teaching online. Taking the time to develop the knowledge and skills required to teach online helps faculty who teach fully online, those who teach fully in-person, and everyone in between. That is because virtually every class has some online component, whether that be the gradebook, online assignment submissions, or recorded lectures in a flipped classroom.

“During the pandemic, many faculty got thrown into the online space on short notice and worked hard to make the best of that situation. For some, this experience of online teaching left a bad taste in their mouth. My hope is to show those faculty that a carefully created and thoughtfully designed online class can be both a wonderful learning experience for students and an excellent teaching format for faculty.”

VSU’s first Online Teaching Certificate graduates are:

. Jason Brown, associate professor, Department of Communication Arts, College of the Arts

. Dr. Gwen Scott Ruttencutter, assistant professor, Department of Leadership, Technology, and Workforce Development, James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services

. Dr. Gayle Ramirez, assistant professor, Department of Teacher Education, James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services

. Dr. Li-Mei Chen, professor, Department of English, College of Humanities and Social Sciences

. Dr. Chunlei Liu, professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Science and Mathematics

. Dr. Jia Lu, professor, Department of Physics, Astronomy, Geosciences, and Engineering Technology, College of Science and Mathematics

Due to the overwhelming demand for the Online Teaching Certificate program, VSU offered two Online Teaching Certificate retreats in May. Both sessions reached capacity within moments of their announcement.

“VSU faculty are life-long learners,” said Dr. Jamie Landau, director of the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching and Center for eLearning. “Each year, the percentage of VSU faculty who voluntarily participate in our programming exceeds the average rate of faculty development at universities across the country. The interest in training in online teaching continues this trend and shows how much our faculty care about education.”

The Online Teaching Certificate supports VSU’s desire to promote a university-wide culture of excellence and foster student success in and out of the classroom.

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