Missouri Baptist University is filled with faculty who believe our students have the potential to change the world for the better. Meet some of the MBU Online faculty that will challenge you to realize your potential and clarify your path in life—online. This post introuduces Dr. Greg Comfort, Division Chair of Health and Sport Sciences.
1) How can an online degree be helpful to a student?
Online courses and programs offer the student flexibility. Many of today’s non-traditional and traditional students have family and work time commitments. Asynchronous online classes allows for those students to log into their online courses at a time that works best for them, as opposed to having to attend a lecture at a specific time.
Online courses provide information in various formats and thereby better serve the different learning styles of students. The use of graphics and sound clips in an online classroom serve to grab students’ attention and convey ideas more easily than the verbal descriptions used in the F2F classroom. Many student prefer to discuss online as it gives them time to think about their ideas before answering (Catalyst, 2003).
2) How do you develop relationships with your online students? How do you promote students to build relationships with each other?
Relationships with students are built through the discussion boards and through assignment responses (e.g. projects, labs, case studies, quizzes, tests). Students responding to discussion board questions in my classes are asked to apply concepts and truths to their own life situation, and to support those truths empirically. Many times online students will feel more comfortable opening up and sharing personal thoughts and ideas then if they were in a traditional classroom. This openness and transparency allows for me and the other students in the class to reach out and minister to each student’s specific needs and when appropriate, to lift those needs up in prayer. Group work also allows for students to build community. By separating students into groups students are able to discuss concepts, ideas and their progress exclusively with their group members throughout the semester.
3) How do you foster learning in online courses?
Promoting active learning and student cooperation are key to a healthy online learning atmosphere. The class projects, group work, and personally applied discussion board questions and responses help to foster active learning in my online courses. Providing timely feedback on assignments, responding to student questions within 24 hours, including constructive and personalized feedback on assignments, sending out weekly assignment reminders via email in the form of a text or video message, providing encouragement and suggesting additional resources that students might find helpful during an exceptionally challenging week have also helped to foster a learning environment.
4) Why do you teach online?
MBU instructors are called to enrich students’ lives spiritually, intellectually, and professionally, and to prepare students to serve in a global and culturally diverse society (MBU Mission Statement). Being an integral part of a student’s learning experience is as exciting to me as it was 30 years ago when I started. In addition to allowing me to reach out to online students who might otherwise not be able to earn a degree, online technology has given me the opportunity to improve the overall learning experience for students in my traditional classes.
Catalyst. 2003. Address diverse learning styles. Center for Teaching, Learning Technologies. University of Washington, http://catalyst.washington.edu/catalyst/method/learning_styles.html
Dr. Greg Comfort
Division Chair of Health and Sport Sciences
Dr. Comfort completed his doctoral work at the University of Arkansas in 1992 and has held teaching positions at Liberty University (1988-1999), Wichita State University (1999-2003), and Missouri Baptist University (2003-current). He currently serves as the chair of the Health and Sport Sciences Division and teaches undergraduate and graduate classes in sport management.