Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2016 – FLCC: Christopher Parker
Christopher Parker, is Associate Professor of English and Chair, Humanities Department at Finger Lakes Community College. He has a B.A from the State University of New York at Buffalo and an M.A. from Ohio University.
I can only say that it is ironic that I find myself as deeply immersed in the sea of online teaching as I am. I was one of those who stubbornly proclaimed—for as long as I could—that I would never be a part of any of this. I guess I was what we call a bit stodgy about these things.
So, all these years later, I am treading the online water nicely.
In fact, I have made what I consider the astonishing observation that I am probably a better online instructor than the person students see face-to-face in the classroom twice a week. I teach English, and in this environment I need to use words at every turn where, in the traditional classroom, a nod or a wink or a shrug of the shoulders is sometimes enough. You know what I mean.
But, here, in this place, it all happens through the written word. I write a lot for my classes—but what is much more important, in my estimation, is that my students must write both to me and to their classmates as well. They probably write more words for my classes than my traditional students would ever dream would be possible over the course of a semester.
But the most amazing thing to me is this: so many times now, each semester, students write to me to tell me that they like how I talk to them. Or they write to tell me about how their expectations changed—for the better—once the course began. And, best of all, they sometimes write to me to tell me things they never thought they would have a chance to talk about. When I read these testimonials, as I call them, I realize that I was wrong about what I always used to say about online instruction.
This way of doing things can really work, and it can work beautifully, meaningfully for me and for all the students who meet me half way.