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Specialist trains faculty in cutting-edge teaching practices

February 18, 2016
KOKOMO, Ind. — Chérie Dodd teaches the teachers, helping faculty develop classes that engage students and incorporate the latest technology to enrich the classroom experience.

As an instructional strategies specialist in Indiana University Kokomo’s Center for Teaching, Learning, and Assessment (CTLA), she offers one–on-one assistance for faculty, helping them implement cutting edge instructional strategies as they design new courses and enhance current classes.

“Every faculty member has different goals we can help him or her meet,” she said. “We cover the whole gamut, from designing online classes, to how to manage group work, to finding the right technology tools to enhance instruction. I have to be continuously learning, to help our faculty provide the highest-quality education for our students.”

She recently earned recognition for her leadership moving the campus to the IU’s new Canvas learning management system. She offered extensive training for all faculty to prepare them to move seamlessly from the previous OnCourse system to the new Canvas learning management system.

IU Kokomo led all campuses in the transition, with 85 percent of faculty teaching with Canvas by the fall semester. It can be used for online and on campus classes.

Dodd said while OnCourse allowed faculty to store documents and direct students to resources, they can use Canvas to guide student learning through discussions and linking to materials, among other uses. Canvas also is mobile friendly, which is important to students.

“Canvas is fluid and interactive for students, and is more about facilitating learning, rather than just managing a course,” she said.

Her favorite component of the program is Voice Thread, which provides ability to interact with online students.

“You can hear their voices and see their faces, and they can see each other,” Dodd said. “It makes online learning a more interactive experience, and enhances students’ ability to communicate and learn online.”

Julie Saam, CTLA director, noted that not all Ph.D. programs prepare future faculty members to teach, so Dodd plays an important role in academic success.

“Most faculty are experts in their area of study, with some teaching experience,” she said. “On our campus, we highlight excellent teaching as our strength, so it helps to have experts in curriculum design, and instructional specialists, who can assist with the teaching component of the faculty job.”

Dodd also stays ahead of trends in teaching technologies, deciding what new tools will positively impact learning on campus, learning to use them, and then teaching faculty how to incorporate them in their classrooms.

“Every semester, there is some new program that will allow you to accomplish new things,” she said. “Before we implement, we have to consider how it will impact teaching in a positive way, and lead to student success. It’s never just about using technology for technology’s sake. It has to combine technology and excellent teaching.”

A native of South Africa, she never intended to work in teaching or technology, even though a high school career skills assessment showed she had talent in those areas.

“My perception of both of those fields was that it was not for me,” she said.

She learned differently as she began her career, working at a bank training center after graduating from University of Capetown. Her supervisors brought in a specialist to teach how to develop web-based instruction for bank employees, and she reluctantly enrolled.

“I was actually unhappy that I was chosen,” she said, but “as soon as I started doing the course, I realized I had found my niche.”

Dodd immigrated to the United States in 2000, and began working at IU Kokomo. She enjoys helping faculty develop new courses, and integrate new technology into their classes.

“My days are never the same,” she said. “I learn something new every day, and play a part in the campus’ success. It is a fulfilling job.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 02/19/2016