Teaching Associate Professor Angie Smith has taught online since completing her Ph.D. in Counselor Education in the Department of Educational Leadership, Policy and Human Development in NC State’s College of Education.
At first, she was hesitant to teach online because of advice from professionals in the counseling field. A driving motivator for Smith is building connections and transferring knowledge through teaching and learning from others, and she was told this would be difficult to accomplish online.
Luckily, Smith trusted her ability to connect with students and build an engaging environment. Her instinct kicked in and she has now taught 55 online, hybrid and on-campus courses at NC State. Today, her commitment to delivering high-quality online education is stronger than ever.
Within the counseling field there were not many opportunities, at the time, to truly immerse herself into educational technology within the helping professions. When she discovered she would be teaching using technology, she sought to learn as much as she could.
Smith began an immediate search for assistance and resources on NC State’s website. She discovered DELTA’s website and immediately scheduled a consultation with the Director for Instructional Support Services Stacy Gant.
She credits DELTA with making her online teaching successful. In 2015, Smith received a DELTA grant to develop an online group counseling course since she had been struggling with finding the right tools for delivery.
“The process of working with DELTA staff to develop strategies to deliver the counseling content has been a highlight of my professional career at NC State,” said Smith. “I learned more than I had ever anticipated about best practices in course design, multimedia, building community in an online environment, and the use of technology to enhance pedagogy.”
Smith has a philosophy that hearing the same suggestion from three or more people means there may be something to it. A lot of respected colleagues she knew encouraged her to apply to be a DELTA Faculty Fellow, so she did!
Smith is using her strengths by sharing her knowledge, resources and time with other NC State faculty as a 2017-2019 DELTA Faculty Fellow.
She hopes to continue focus on engagement in this new role. “Not only with students but with faculty to better engage their students,” she added.
According to Smith, “There is so much to learn as new advancements in technology continue to improve and change over time. As an online instructor, witnessing my students growth and ‘aha’ moments they have while engaging in the counseling content in an online environment is simply awesome! I always appreciate when students who may be initially reluctant to learning in the online environment share with me at the end of the semester that the course was more engaging than they ever would have anticipated.”
In addition to sharing her passion with students, Smith said, “I love to collaborate and present at conferences.” Being able to share more with people inside of NC State, and even beyond our campus community, appeals to her.
Smith said, “Attending conferences and workshops provides a space to connect, network and share with peers who have like-minded interests and goals. We can all learn so much from one another.”
Since 2015, Smith has presented at Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Accelerate in Orlando and finds such a rewarding experience for her to learn from so many instructional designers and innovators around the country and world. She is partnering with DELTA’s Jakia Salam and Bethany Smith to present in November at OLC.
“The conference is one that is not specifically in my discipline or content area, but the information shared is invaluable for facilitating the delivery of online content for my classes. I encourage colleagues to attend conferences that may be a bit outside of their content area, as we can learn so much from similar or even different fields that can enhance or complement our work,” she added.
In addition to collaborating on conferences, Smith has also expanded into publications. In the spring of 2018, she along with colleagues from NC State and UNC Pembroke expect publication of their book about online learning in the helping professions.
“The book covers online, blended and hybrid models. It is meant to serve as a companion for doctoral students, instructors, administrators, or professionals who are interested in learning more about teaching online in the helping professions,” she said.
Smith added there is a wealth of information included in the book, and it was really a collaborative effort. The book offers the reader space to journal through guided reflections about their own experiences as a learner and instructor as they simultaneously learn about tips, activities, best practices and much more.
“I couldn’t have written this book without DELTA. It is something I really wanted their voice to be a part of because they were so instrumental with my growth in the online environment,” said Smith.
For Smith, there are a variety of different approaches to effectively use teaching technology to impact student success. She described being on the cutting edge of technology.
“There are a variety of tools that can amplify what works for instructors in the classroom and figuring out how to approach it in an online environment is exciting,” she said. “It’s like a puzzle in many ways as we seek to deliver content in our specialty areas to students, while researching the possible tools to enhance the learning experience for them.”
Although Smith does not proclaim to be an expert, she views herself as a continuous learner who has an interest and thirst for knowledge to adapt, enhance and learn innovative ways to engage her students in the learning process. With this Faculty Fellows grant, she hopes to share ideas and create a space for faculty where they can learn more about technology and be able to adapt it to their online teaching.
“We all have ways we teach that can be adapted to the online learning environment,” said Smith. “I think technology is meeting students and clients where they are at in a way that even face-to-face interaction is oftentimes not able to provide. I look at technology as a way to deliver content to better serve our students and our community who may not otherwise receive services and/opportunities for educational advancement.”
Smith explained, “I am passionate about online instruction because technology can be used as a mechanism to deliver content and create connections to enable our students to learn, grow, and reflect on who they are as individuals, counselors-in-training, advocates, and future counseling professionals.”
Smith said, “I am extremely optimistic about what the future will hold as it relates to online learning in our country and world, particularly as virtual reality and other technologies continue to press the limits of engagement and connection. I believe the sky or perhaps the ‘interwebs’ are the limit!”
This post was originally published in DELTA News.