Dennis has been teaching in the classroom since the early 1990s and online for the last four years. He has taught leadership courses on the graduate level at several colleges. Courses he has taught include Leadership, Project Management and Management online courses for Granite State College for the last two years. His teaching philosophy or approach is summed up as creating a partnership between the mentor and learner.
Dennis is the former Director of the NH Bureau of Education and Training where he ran the NH Certified Public Manager Program. Prior to his current academic work he had twenty-one years’ experience in Labor Relations as a union advocate and contract negotiator. He resides in Hopkinton, NH. His civic affiliations include being Clerk of the Board of Directors for the Belknap-Merrimack Community Action program; Treasurer of NH Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health; and President of the NH Association of Certified Public Managers. Dennis earned a BA in Sociology at St. Anselm College, Manchester, NH; a M.Ed. At Rivier College; Graduate Certificate In Organizational Psychology, California Southern University; and received Labor Education and Training from the George Meany Labor Center, Silver Springs, Maryland.
Decision to Teach Online
Dennis began teaching online for GSC when asked to teach a class in the Project Management Program. He stated he has really enjoyed teaching online much more than he thought he would. It is now his preference.
|Dennis’s teaching outlook changed after taking a few online courses offered in a
GSC Graduate Certificate Program in Organizational Psychology.
|“Online students must respond to every question. In a traditional classroom a student can sit back and not respond often, if at all. The online environment contributes to the engagement between a student, their peers and the instructor.”|
The Online Learner
Dennis confirmed ‘online learners’ are distinctly different. He was struck by an article he read a number of years ago that stated that for the first time introverts got their say in classrooms. He explains, “Online students must respond to every question. In a traditional classroom a student can sit back and not respond often, if at all. The online environment contributes to the engagement between a student, their peers and the instructor.”
Additionally, he remarked that, “expectations should be clearly laid out in the rubrics for grading, etc.” He communicates course expectations to his students by noting it in the course syllabus and using rubrics.
Creating an Online Presence
Dennis remarks, “I log into my online classrooms at least twice a day.” He frequently posts an attachment of pertinent material.
“Managing discussion forums are very different because everyone must contribute to and be involved in the discussions.” Dennis notes he tries to only make brief encouraging comments, since he believes that as adults they learn best from each other. What he has learned about the nature of discussions is that the construction of the discussion questions is the pivotal issue. He noted well-conceived questions get well conceived responses.
|“The students see that their instructor is actively checking in and reading what they are writing about. They see that I am offering more resources to expand on or cover the topics or questions they may have.”|
Challenges of Teaching Online Courses
When I asked Dennis what challenges he faces teaching online he responded, “When comparing online to face-to-face, I find that teaching online is far more time consuming than a traditional classroom setting. So, it is more a time management issue than a classroom management issue.” He remarks, “One obsticle is giving directions that are not clear. I am the ‘big Picture’ guy. I live in a broad brush world. Students can disappoint you if you are not very clear with directions.”
Dennis has requested his students to create videos in some of his courses. He noted he was a bit skeptical about using this type of venue for an assignment, but felt it is working well so far.
Resources to Develop your Courses
Dennis stated that his most important sources for developing better classroom content are his wonderful colleagues. He attributed success from working with people within the Leadership Program at GSC. He noted that when functioning as a team it really makes a difference.
Advice on Online Teaching and Learning by Observation
Dennis wanted to share some advice, “Take an online class. Learning by observing best practices is a great way to do a good job from the start. If that is a luxury, than ask someone to let you be enrolled as a guest in their classroom, so you can observe a seasoned veteran at work.”
Mentors Along the Way
When asked if he has had any mentors in his teaching career Dennis reflects, “Dr. Johnna Herrick Phelps and Dr. Mark Jewell have been wonderful influences and very helpful while working at GSC. He mentioned a former colleague, Dr. Monika Bissel who has also been instrumental.
To contact Dennis you may send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org