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National Distance Learning Week Spotlight

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In honor of National Distance Learning Week, Dr. Rick Chaffee, a faculty member at Union, provides insight on the topic of on-line teaching & learning.

It would seem that on-line teaching could be as effective as classroom based teaching in courses that deal with objective material. That assumption makes sense. However, in human relations based courses, the assumption seems to be that face-to-face is more effective.

I would like to share my surprise at the effectiveness of on-line teaching especially in courses related to interpersonal relationships such as leadership, negotiation & conflict resolution, leadership ethics and diversity.

I teach in the undergraduate programs of Organizational Leadership and Business Management with Union Institute and University. Prior to teaching on-line with the University, I taught face-to-face on corporate and military sites over a thirty year period.

When the University changed my teaching assignments from classroom to on-line instruction four years ago, I was skeptical. However, over the last four years I have discovered an intimacy to on-line teaching that I could not have anticipated.

When the University changed my teaching assignments from classroom to on-line instruction four years ago, I was skeptical. However, over the last four years I have discovered an intimacy to on-line teaching that I could not have anticipated.

When the Kolb model of adult learning is used in courses whether on-line or face-to-face, there is connectedness and community.

The richness of the Kolb model arises from bringing together, an academic field of knowledge on the one hand, and the rich personal and professional experiences of adults, on the other. As students and faculty share with each other their own experience related to the ideas from the readings and lectures, not only is it possible to connect in a profound way with each student but the students connect with and learn from each other. Assignments typically include a short summary of key concepts followed by examples that connect the concepts to their own life. Adults may never have known these terms or theories before, but they discover they already know them experientially. This approach generates confidence and a sharing of insights with one another. What adult learners value most is that they can use these insights the very next day at home or in their workplace. In a way, this is a case study approach but the cases come directly from their own lives.

The second factor that contributes to effective on-line teaching in social science related courses is a recognition that growth in relational effectiveness is an intrapersonal, soul searching process (Bennis, Kouzes, Posner, Chaleff, Ciulla, Covey, Burns, etc.). For example, in a leadership ethics course, we study the corrupting influence of power. Power is like a drug. In our role as a parent, spouse or as a leader in an organization, it is easy to be seduced by our power. Participants are asked, which of the three corrupting influences of power must they be careful of in their own life? Leadership begins with self-understanding which can done remarkably well on-line.

At the core of human relations is an internal process. Conflict resolution begins with emotional intelligence, recognizing the fight and flight responses inside, not acting on the urge to get even, and doing our best to find a resolution based in fairness. There is something inside us that knows when we are acting with integrity. This kind of internal process followed by the sharing of insights, works especially well on-line.

Negotiation is another crucial human relations skill. As participants reflect on their past negotiation experiences, they recognize that good outcomes, the quality of their relationships, and their sense of peace inside, depend on an internal commitment to fairness as a way of life. Again, this reflection and sharing can be done as effectively on-line as face-to-face.

Most adults recognize that it is connecting or reconnecting with their integrity that is at the heart of any course related to effectiveness in human relations… work that can be done beautifully in an on-line format.

These intimate on-line courses create an opportunity for students to test the possibility that openness and a commitment to fairness bring about better outcomes and better relationships. They test this proposition in their own lives and report the results of their experiments to each other during the course.

To my surprise, I have come to love teaching on-line and have received feedback from a number of students that these human relations courses have been the most meaningful they have had in their college careers regardless of format.

My experiences over the last four years has convinced me that human relations courses, taught on-line, can be very effective, as effective as those I have taught face-to-face. In addition, the corporations that send me their students that include United Technology (UTAS), Ben & Jerry’s (Unilever), and the Vermont Army National Guard, consider an on-line degree equal to campus based degrees.

Union is distinguished as the pioneer in adult education, perfecting on-line and traditional classroom instruction for the busy adult.

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Debunking Myths About Online Instruction

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They said that Aristotle was wrong when he challenged the common theory of education during his day. His technique of raising questions to require thought /discourse changed the passive listening pedagogy of his age.

They criticized Maria Montessori when she devised an early childhood curriculum based on developmental stages and hands-on instruction. She debunked her critics, and her method is still revolutionary over a hundred years later.

John Dewey debunked his critics who said that the Project Method wasted valuable teacher directed time where knowledge was poured (sometimes beaten) into children’s heads. Horace Mann was criticized when he proposed a free education for every child in America. Today, there is even discussion of free community college education.

There is similar discussion today questioning the viability of online instruction. A colleague recently stated to me that the argument for the effectiveness of online instruction is still up in the air. I argued back that the old fashioned brick and mortar institution might be the pedagogy that is more in danger
hroughout the years, pencils have replaced the stylus; the interactive whiteboard has replaced the chalkboard; word processing programs have replaced lined paper. Families no longer sit around their radio at night to listen to the latest serial. Telephones now follow you, and television is available at your fingertips. More movies are watched at home than in the theater.
Can anyone argue that television, video, and YouTube have not offered greater access to knowledge?  I recently visited the famous Stony Brook, Long Island Post Office with its famous eagle venire. The wings of that eagle flutter at the top of each hour. Rather than wait fifteen minutes until the next hour, I YouTubed it, watched the wings flutter, then moved to my next touristy destination. Does the internet not provide better and more timely learning experiences? Does it not provide access to real time information from far away?

Let’s debunk a few of the myths about online instruction that are commonly proffered by critics:

Students Need the Structure of the Face-to-Face Class-Some students definitely do. Yet, have you ever watched the bored faces of students attempting to listen and follow a lecture from an average professor. Have you ever watched the faces of morning people trying to learn at night or, even better, night people trying to wake up to learn in the morning? Online instruction creates the possibility of importing the lectures of the top professors in the world. It provides the opportunity for professionally prepared videos facilitated by trained professors. Asynchronous online lessons can be viewed during the hours most effective and most convenient to the learner.

Professors Are Not as Available to the Online Student-I am not sure that a study exists, but I would hypothesize that more personal email addresses and personal cell phone numbers are offered by online instructors than brick and mortar ones. I would further hypothesize that contact hours are less restrictive for online instructors than traditional professors. Office hours of 2:00-4:00 on Tuesday and Thursday should be a thing of the past. Direct access between professors and students via email, text, and cellphone should be the new norm.

Online Instruction is Impersonal-In the early days, this might have been a valid argument. Early classes were merely correspondence courses with products delivered through technology with a smidgeon of online quizzes. Time has changed that. Modern, quality online courses now contain regular personal video from the professor, other video from some of the best speaker experts throughout the world, collaboration forums where students are required to discuss issues moderated by professors, and chat rooms to share individual presentations. Arguments can be made that online instruction is more personal than traditional face-to-face instruction. An online student cannot hide behind a notebook. Each post and every reply can be counted and credited.

Student Service Programs Are Better in Face-to-Face Classes-I can’t argue about other schools, but I have heard the nightmares. At Union Institute & University, each student has email, phone, and personal access to an enrollment counselor and a program advisor, in addition to their personal professor. No advisor has a student load higher than one hundred students. In addition, there are career and financial aid counselors. Waiting in lines for registration or assistance is non-existent. It, like the courses, is also online.
Change is a very difficult thing. Yet, without change, growth cannot occur. The lead character in Herman Hesse’s novel Demien once said, “In order to grow, you must first destroy a world.” I am not proposing that the world of the brick and mortar higher education institution needs to be destroyed. Yet I proffer that technology exists; we should not be afraid to use it.

Watch this video. I doubt that you could do a better job at communicating from behind your classroom podium.

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Union Institute & University Celebrates Veterans Day by providing lunch to homeless veterans on November 11

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Veterans are the heart of the Union Institute & University Veterans in Union program. This Veterans Day, November 11, Union will celebrate veterans by providing lunch at The Joseph House for Homeless Veterans, and bringing cookies to 15 veteran partnership organizations during the week.

“Veterans Day provides another opportunity for Union to recognize and honor the sacrifices of veterans,” said Nicole Schreck, Senior Director of Enrollment. “It is our honor to bring lunch to the staff and veterans of Joseph House. The programs offered through Joseph House, are extremely valuable to the veterans within our community. These programs empower and transform the lives of those veterans who may have found themselves lost in their transition from the military to civilian role.”

The Veterans in Union stipend program provides a three-term $7500 living allowance stipend for eligible Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana veterans to earn or complete their undergraduate or graduate degree.

The Veterans in Union program holds the designation of a Yellow Ribbon university, is in the Top 25 percent ranking of Military Friendly Institutions, and accepts previous credits and experience including ACE Credits, Dantes, CLEP, and more. In addition, Union is listed on the U.S. Department of Education’ Eight Keys to Veterans’ Success site; and is part of a very critical two-year independently funded agreement with the Cincinnati Veterans Affairs office for on-site VITAL counseling services.

Nicole Schreck and Geri Maples deliver cookies to the Tri-State Veterans Community Alliance in recognition of Veterans Day.

Learn More about the Veterans Union program

To learn more about the Veterans in Union program, visit  http://military.myunion.edu

Student/Professor relationship sets Union apart

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The Union Institute & University Ph.D. program is known for developing the scholar- practitioner. That’s why it was an easy decision for faculty members Dr. Jennifer Raymond and Dr. Diane Allerdyce to team up with their doctoral students to participate in the National Women’s Studies Association Annual Conference (NWSA), November 10-13, 2016.

The Union scholar-practitioner model encourages trust between the professor and student.

“In the doctoral program there is a different work that happens. The professor’s job isn’t necessarily just to be an expert, but to be a facilitator of the students’ development in terms of their academic work, how to deepen their knowledge and understanding and achieve the goals of their research,” said Jennifer Raymond, Ph.D., PPS Chair and Faculty, Ph.D. Program, Graduate & Interdisciplinary Studies.

Diane Richard-Allerdyce, Ph.D., HMS Chair & Faculty, explains. “A scholar-practitioner is someone who brings to the academic world and beyond a perspective on social problems. Scholar-practitioners apply critical thinking to academic theories and issues and take that knowledge beyond the classroom, often working with the community in pursuit of social justice initiatives. Ph.D. students trust that they will learn to reexamine knowledge and become a committed agent for social change and work to solve the issues within our societies. Professors understand that they must guide the student to see the bigger goal of completing their dissertation and their professional career.”

Dr. Allerdyce will present her paper, “As Fragile as Tissue and as Strong: A Somaesthetic Reading of Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower” at the NWSA as part of the panel The Surface of Skin: Bodily Boundaries and Sites of Belonging and Exclusion in the National Women’s Studies Association 2016 conference program. Dr. Jennifer Raymond will moderate. Union Ph.D. student Angel Lemke is also on the panel and will present her paper, “’I Don’t Even Know if I’m White’”: Geographies of Bigotry in Rita Mae Brown’s Rubyfruit Jungle.”

In addition, Dr. Allerdyce will moderate the panel on Biopolitics and State Regulation of Women’s Sexuality that features paper presentations by Dr. Jennifer Raymond and Union Ph.D. students Randi McCray, whose paper is entitled “Degradation, Devaluation, and Sexual Regulation of TANF Recipients: A Critical Analysis of State Regulations and Welfare-to-Work Policies,” and Michelle Budwitz, who will present “A Feminist Critical Discourse Analysis of Abortion Restriction Policy: An Examination of the Social Constructions of Women Embedded within the Policy Discourse.” Dr. Raymond’s paper for this panel is entitled “#NoTeenShame: Using Social Media to Contest the Social Construction of Teen Parents.”

Dr. Raymond will also present a paper, “Sexual Politics, Biopolitics and Power, the Growing Focus on LGBT Health Initiatives,” as part of a panel called Biopolitical Citizenship and Healthcare along with Union Ph.D. student Lynn Madden who will present “Examining the Intersection of Substance Use Disorders, Gender, and Sexual Orientation.”

“It is a great honor for a doctoral student to be accepted to present at a national conference. We are very proud of Union’s Ph.D. students,” said Dr. Allerdyce.

Learn More About Union’s Ph.D. Program

If you would like to know more about Union’s Ph.D. program and how it incorporates interdisciplinary study to expand and deepen your knowledge and expertise visit www.myunion.edu

Alumni named Influencer in Aging

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Dr. Ken Dychtwald has dedicated his life to fighting ageist stereotypes. His mission to educate the country to both effectively face the massive demographic shift that is the “age wave” and to promote a new and vital image of maturity has just landed him on Next Avenue’s 2016 50 Most Influential People in Aging.

Dr. Dychtwald was one of the youngest graduates to earn a Ph.D. from Union Institute & University when he graduated in 1976. His academic work led him to found Age Wave, a firm he leads that is solely dedicated to helping society understand the implications aging of America. He is internationally regarded as the single most influential marketer to and about baby boomers.

“Ken came back to Union to help us celebrate our 50th anniversary in 2014. His presentation on the opportunities and challenges the country faces with this massive demographic shift was, in the words of Union’s mission, enlightening, engaging, and empowering,” said Dr. Roger H. Sublett, president of Union Institute & University. “Ken is an outstanding example of how our alumni are dedicated to a lifetime of learning, service, and social responsibility.”

The chairman-elect of the American Society on Aging, consultant to over half of the Fortune 500 companies and government global leadership, winner of the prestigious McKinsey Award for his Harvard Business Review article, “It’s Time to Retire Retirement,” and author of 16 books, Dr. Dychtwald continues to promote a new and vital image of maturity that has impacted millions.

About Dr. Ken Dychtwald

Learn more about Dr. Dychtwald and his fascinating work by visiting http://agewave.com/. To learn more about pursuing a degree at Union Institute & University, click here.