Fall 2016 Faculty Spotlight
Dr. Jennifer Moore, Assistant Professor
School of Library and Information Studies
Dr. Jennifer Moore is the 2016 recipient of the Distinction in Distance Education award that is given out at Convocation. After a brief meeting to discuss what she does in her online courses, it is easy to see why she won this accolade. Moore has been at TWU and taught online since the Fall of 2011. She typically teaches four of the following online courses throughout the year: Advanced Young Adult Literature, Librarians as Instructional Partners, Multimedia Resources and Services, School Library Media Center, Youth Programs, and Practicum. She is an avid user of Web 2.0 tools in all of them.
Her favorite tools are those that give a voice to the students. She says, “We are more than just binary code.” As most of us know, it can often be a challenge to express our true personality and our literal voice in the online world. She has found a way to combat those challenges by using avatar tools such as Voki, Sock Puppets, BuddyPoke and Tellagami. She also uses apps for podcasting, mind mapping, and visual applications like Skype and Facetime so that she and her students can actually see each other. Most of the tools she incorporates are recognized by the American Association of School Librarians. This group publishes a yearly list of the Best Apps for Teaching and Learning and the Best Websites for Teaching and Learning. She uses these tools to teach and requires her students to use them in their assignments.
To be a school librarian in Texas, students must have a teaching certificate, two years of teaching experience, a master’s degree and the school library certification, which they earn through the master’s program. Therefore, Moore’s students are all working professionals – in the midst of that teaching experience. They cannot come to campus, but they want face-to-face interactions. She has found that these online applications help meet that need for her students. She requires her students to use them not only in the courses they are taking with her for their master’s degree, but she also encourages them to use these tools with their own students.
Like anyone else, her students come with a wide range of experience and comfort with technology. Despite that, she receives mostly positive feedback from her students. She believes that even though these courses are fully online and she may never meet her students in person, she is “still doing meaningful work, just with a different mode of delivery.”
Moore says the benefit to using these technologies again goes back to students having a voice. “Intonation can be lost online. [Students are] incorporating [their] personality through color and design. These tools make us more human than you can typically be in an online environment,” she explains. As an added bonus, her students do get some choices in which apps they use, so they are able to customize their learning experience based on their learning strengths.
To the rookie online instructor who wants to make his or her course more interactive, Moore has three suggestions: try, do it little by little and have fun. She says, “Try! Sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t. Be honest with students and encourage them to give it a try.”
She also reminds the beginner that they do not have to incorporate all new technologies at once. “Pick one tool, try it and gradually build.” Every semester she tries something new.
Finally, she encourages us to have fun! “[This] allows you to relax and see content matter from a different perspective.”
Moore also acknowledges that her success has not been without the help of others. She credits her co-workers for their support over the years. They have listened to her ideas and offered their advice. Contact Dr. Moore to learn more about her strategies for connecting her online students. For one-on-one assistance with incorporating technology into your course, contact the TWU Instructional Design Team.