It Wasn’t Raining When Noah Built the Ark

In every team and department at Northwest Vista College, there are always great stories to tell that show faculty and staff going above and beyond.

While it’s hard to capture every story, we hope to periodically share in this space some of the major accomplishments or projects that are taking place. Members of the executive team will write about important topics that they feel NVC employees should be made aware of.

Let us know about the positive things your area is doing to help students or improve processes by contacting myself or NVC Public Relations.

– Dr. Ric Baser, NVC President

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Laura Lawrence
NVC Director of Teaching with Technology

We know it’s coming. Class by class, enrollment by enrollment, program by program, the number of fully online courses at NVC has increased every year since the first offerings more than 15 years ago. But offering a course online involves far more than checking a box in Banner. It means preparing our faculty, courses, and students for the online learning environment.

NVC has always anticipated this growth. That’s why we currently boast that nearly 20% of the courses offered each year are fully online, and 40% of our faculty are certified to teach online. Faculty who seek online certification complete a rigorous process: first they participate fully in an eight-week online course that introduces the best practices of online course design and delivery. The program emphasizes the required components of a high-quality distance learning course as well as teaching practices in the online environment. They then build an online course of their own, often with the assistance of a certified faculty mentor in their discipline. Newly-built courses are reviewed in depth and modified as necessary. Finally, the faculty member completes a presentation with a distance learning expert and their chair or discipline coordinator. Despite the high demands, more than 300 faculty have completed online teaching certification in the past 10 years.

Why is the process so rigorous? NVC recognizes that in order to help students achieve success in an online course, the course can’t simply be a “content dump.” The college requires that online courses, just like on-campus courses, are engaging for a variety of learners, use available technology well, have a great deal of instructor presence, and contain numerous opportunities for active learning. In other words, our online courses and teaching must be of the same high quality as our on-campus courses.

The Teaching with Technology team, along with our newly-added Instructional Designer from the Alamo Colleges Online office, Eryn Berger, is also in the process of developing ways to increase student success by involving existing online faculty and by improving our Orientation to Online Learning for students. When the anticipated flood of online classes happens in the next few years, NVC will be ready.

If you are interested in becoming certified to teach online classes at NVC, please contact Laura Lawrence at llawrence10@alamo.edu or 210-486-4850.

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