Carla Konyk-Tulp is the Vice President and Director of Administration at the University of Science, Arts, and Technology, Montserrat.
For almost two decades, she has served as USAT’s Director of Administration. Providing a quality medical school program to a unique student population has been extremely rewarding for Ms. Konyk-Tulp.
Her position includes managing the staff and facilities at the Olveston campus on Montserrat, and the team at the administrative office, providing individual student guidance, and assisting graduates preparing for medical board examinations.
Under her administrative leadership, the medical school has graduated hundreds of medical doctors and Ph.D. recipients.
When she is not helping students become doctors, Carla Konyk-Tulp loves spending time watching and learning about the local wildlife or “just doing nothing” with her husband, Orien, at their mountain home.
She also enjoys shopping with her two daughters, investing in real estate, and driving fast cars.
In what ways has the pedagogy of distance education evolved, and what are some of the most effective teaching strategies used in online learning today?
Many years ago, when I began to take what used to be considered remote courses, they were called “correspondence courses.” And if you know that terminology, you’re as old as I am.
You would send your assignment to an unknown person who would grade your papers. For the exams, you had to find a local proctor to sit with you while you took your exam.
The proctor would then submit your exam to an unknown person (the janitor, maybe?) who graded your exam, and in about two weeks, you received your grade. You had to have a lot of trust in the system.
Now, students can interact in real time with their qualified professors. They can also message instructors either in a public or private forum, like a virtual office. The process is very efficient.
All assignments are uploaded digitally; grades are calculated and made available to the student through the online student portal. Overall there’s a lot of joy involved in it, whereas before, distance education was more of a drudgery.
As far as effective teaching strategies, Learning Management Systems, or LMS, have come into their own as effective tools for delivering many different types of courses, not to mention saving many trees!
The student portal is a little intimidating at first, so the LMS orientation class is the first required course for all new students in all programs.
A variety of resources such as tutoring, assignment pre-assessments, and reviews of basic concepts are made available to all students, as well. For example, a math course will include a short refresher as part of the first session.
How have online platforms and tools, such as learning management systems and video conferencing software, changed how we deliver distance education?
Learning management systems, or LMS, have become very intuitive to the needs of students, faculty, and schools.
For example, the LMS for many math courses includes practice lab assignments with tools that the student can use to explain and work through a problem or reinforce a concept.
Some courses even have “flashcards,” not on three-by-five index cards, but in digital format, more like a game.
Additionally, faculty can view the stats on each student based on how they’ve performed in the LMS platform and transmit that data to curriculum committees, which can make adjustments, if necessary, based on this data.
There is increased efficiency and opportunity for schools to use technology to enhance the learning experience.
For the student, the on-campus classroom has become an option rather than an absolute requirement.
Educators have had to reevaluate teaching methods to capture the attention of a generation who enjoys playing games.
Regularly scheduled online class time is called a “seminar.” These are monitored by the instructor to keep students engaged.
For example, the professor may require each student to post a minimum of 10 comments or questions in the chat box during the hour-long seminar to receive full credit.
As an additional part of the same course, students are given assignments that require internet resources and encourage creativity. However, students are also taught what plagiarism is and how to cite their sources properly.
This is an increasingly valuable skill today, with information so readily available.
As a preventive measure, the LMS will automatically apply a plagiarism scan that indicates the percentage of common phrases in the assignment as compared to the other submissions.
In conclusion, it is ironic to me that schools, educators, and students must continue learning how to learn; adapting to and applying new tools and computer skills, and maybe by playing the occasional game.
The best step toward the future of learning is to accept that we haven’t got it all figured out just yet.