Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2020: Niagara – Marissa Pytlak-Surdyke
Marissa Pytlak-Surdyke is the program coordinator of the Communication Studies program at Niagara County Community College. She teaches courses in Communication, Speech and Social Media. Marissa is currently a doctoral candidate in the Learning and Instruction Department at the State University at Buffalo and her dissertation research focuses on the social and academic experiences of first generation college students.
Since beginning my career at NCCC in 2016, I have been working collaboratively with our E-Learning Department on creating an online version of the Speech Communication course. Understanding the advantages of offering this course online to both students and the institution, I have been dedicated to improving the delivery of content. Given the popularity and convenience of online courses, I felt it was necessary to offer an online section of the course to accommodate our diverse student body, including many nontraditional students who also maintain full time employment. I find online class discussions to be engaging and interesting and the online setting allows students, who normally are more reserved, to participate comfortably and enthusiastically. More importantly, the online setting creates a less threatening space for students who fear public speaking to begin the process of learning strategies to cope with this anxiety. Students frequently reflect on this experience in a positive way by highlighting the opportunity to grow by stepping outside their comfort zone. I am interested in exploring innovative ways of facilitating online courses and am excited to be part of the evolution of online learning.