The following is interview with Dr. Angie Parker about her experiences teaching online and as a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship Awardee.
Dr. Parker currently teaches online for the School of Education at Virginia International University. She has experience planning and implementing professional development with educational technology integration and innovation and is a devoted instructor for innovative online courses.
Dr. Parker has also been an adjunct faculty member for Ottawa University and Jones International, working closely with their departments and other teachers on courses in Education. She is passionate about teaching online in its best quality, providing teacher voice and leadership, collaboration, innovative instruction, social learning, and redefining professional development.
Dr. Parker is a Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship Awardee, a scholarship initiative that cultivates and supports the capacity of all educators to use their unique voices and to elevate the craft of teaching and learning all over the world.
VF: Dr. Parker, please tell us a little bit about your experience, the position you have hold with VIU, and how they have helped to shape your vision of education.
AP: I have participated in instrumental design and administrating teaching the online courses for VIU. I started a year and a half ago and enjoy working with Kevin, the Associate Dean of the School of Education. He is such a great support and so easy to work with.
Through the roles of the instructor and designer, I have worked with, most importantly, students. I realize that it all has to work together, that we all have to cooperate and collaborate to create strong learning environment for our students. Knowledge and education along with quality design added to the course are what makes a valuable online program.
VF: It sounds like education is your passion. How do you stay in touch with what really matters most-the students?
AP: That’s true. Students are the number 1 priority. Through the technology, Skype, phone calls, emails, I provide encouragement when needed. When they are taking a course online, they feel like they are all alone on this planet and I always encourage them to call and keep in touch. In fact, I even keep in touch when I go to their country where they originally had taken the course from; for example, I recently visited Turkey. My former students were so surprised and happy to get together. They helped me to navigate around, telling me the paces to visit, and I enjoyed my vocation more by staying in touch with my students. I visited places that I wouldn’t have gone to otherwise. Experience is what makes it real. First, communication throughout the course, plus understanding students in person, if possible, provides the ability to share experiences that enhance the teaching and learning process.
VF: What are your thoughts about the future of online learning at VIU?
AP: I I hope that there will be increase in number of students at VIU both on campus and online, but mostly, online. It is so beneficial for students to have access to the online courses as an opportunity to learn and to take the knowledge outside of the classroom. I really hope VIU expands its online course.
VF: You have been with Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Curriculum Committee. Can you share your experience about that?
AP: I have served on the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute Curriculum Committee for almost 2 years. It is a beneficial program for seniors, 50 years+, who are taking courses. It allows them to learn how to cook, offers wine tasting, etc. These courses are run by a group of people, who provide a quality learning for those in need.
VF:Dr. Parker, you were awarded the Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship. What is it exactly?
AP: The Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship is a program of the United States Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affair. It has given me an opportunity to assist Rhodes University, Grahamstown in the Eastern part of South Africa and I was there for 4 months. I assisted 5 universities with creating their online programs by helping them to get all of the necessary infrastructure, assisted with Interviews, data collection and analysis in order to help them setup their online programs. I plan to go back to the western part of South Africa for further business sometimes next year.
VF: What was the application process for the Fulbright Senior Research Scholarship?
AP: The process begins with the lengthy application, which takes up to couple of months to apply. A potential candidate has to hold Ph.D. as one of the conditions. Applicants are reviewed, interviewed and nominated. In my case, Rhodes University needed a Fulbright Scholar which made me a perfect candidate to assist. I was provided housing upon arrival there and all the support needed.
VF: Would you encourage others to apply?
AP: Yes. This process is an excellent opportunity to do it. There are limited slots available, but it provides recipients with great experience that helps them in their own work and personal lives.
VF: And finally, if you would choose teaching online or on campus, what would be your preference?
AP: Online! When you work with students on ground, you get to know only 10 students and often just those who are sitting in the front row; you lack the time to get to know them all. Online, you get to know all the students and learn more about them.
Interview, December 6th, 2016.