SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2021: Stony Brook – Brenda MacArthur
Brenda MacArthur, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Practice in the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science® and the School of Communication and Journalism at Stony Brook University. She serves as the Director for the Advanced Graduate Certificate in Health Communication, and Course Director for Public Speaking. She is affiliated faculty in the Program in Public Health. Much of Brenda’s work is translational and centered on the intersection of health and instructional communication to improve the quality and continuity of health care and improve health outcomes for patients and communities. She has designed and delivered continuing medical education programs to thousands of health care professionals nationwide. As a communication researcher, her work explores topics such as health literacy, organizational socialization, interdisciplinary teams, patient adherence, and communication motives. Brenda holds a PhD in Health Communication from George Mason University, an MA in Communication Studies from Texas State University, and a BA in Communication from Bryant University.
In 2019 I developed a fully online course in public speaking to help our students meet their general education requirements. The idea of teaching public speaking online is a foreign concept to many, and often raises a lot of questions. I agree, teaching students to speak in an online setting and then expecting them to speak in front of a live audience is not ideal. However, that was never my intention. The reality is that the public speaking landscape has changed, and as educators we need to also adjust our teaching practices to best prepare our students to communicate effectively and efficiently outside of the walls of academe. Most of our students will experience their first job interview virtually, and many will hold jobs that require them to teleconference with colleagues and/or clients in other parts of the nation or world. What better way to prepare students for these situations than to teach them these skills in the same environment where they will apply them in practice? As an educator, my goal has and will always be to find ways to make coursework applicable to students’ everyday lives. They need to see the value in their coursework, and we can create that value through a willingness to adjust our teaching practices in ways that are most beneficial for our students.