An innovative approach to online learning

man in library using computer

Written by: Heather Gillin (cehdcomm@tamu.edu)
Post date: September 11, 2018

Dr. Christine Mark, clinical assistant professor of human resource development, is bringing a real-world feel to her virtual classroom through three online learning principles.

“The concern I had is that my students are going to be put in these really difficult HR situations that can be very much conflict driven,” Mark said. “I want them to go out and be prepared.”

Mark has been an online educator since 2009. She became passionate about online learning after experiencing ineffective online courses.

“I don't think it is fair for students to have a bad experience in an online class,” Mark said.

Using three online learning principles she creates an engaging, personal environment in her virtual classrooms.

“Research shows for a student to be engaged in an online environment, they have to feel connected, that they're part of a community,” Mark said. “They have to be able to identify with the instructor, identify with their peers and with the content.”

Mark uses video to introduce herself to her online students and offers office hours via video chat.

“When I see that they have asked a question, I go in and do a quick, two-minute video in response,” Mark said.

She divides students into small groups and requires them meet through platforms such as Google Hangouts, for a grade. Some groups even meet in person if they are able to.

To help students identify with online content and become successful HR practitioners, Mark is implementing interactive video and simulations through a grant from the Center for Teaching Excellence.

“The video actually puts them in that place and asks ‘well what would you do?’, then it takes them through the different consequences,” Mark said.

Mark also praises online learning for accessibility and quality of education.

In an online setting, class lectures and discussions are archived. This provides a repository of useful information that both instructor and learner can look back on.

“A really great part of online learning is accessibility,” Mark said. “Learners can stop a video and take notes, they can go back and think about it. Which you just can't do in a face to face.”

To learn more about Dr. Christine Mark visit tx.ag/cmark.