LSC-O’s Dorman recognized as Distinguished eLearning Educator 2011

Bonnie DormanBonnie Dorman has seen her share of changes on the Lamar State College-Orange campus in the 34 years she has been a member of the faculty. As a medical office professor for the business and technology department, one of the biggest changes she has seen is the introduction of online classes and their gradual increase in popularity. After teaching an online course for medical terminology for the last two years, Dorman was recognized in December as a Distinguished eLearning Educator by the Instructional Technology Council at eLearning 2011.  

The Instructional Technology Council is a leader in advancing distance education, and LSC-O instructional designer, Sribhagyam “Bhagya” Srinivasan, nominated Dorman for the award after witnessing her dedication to the course.

“Her skill in teaching medical terminology is fantastic,” said Srinivasan, “and when we requested to put this course online she willingly took on the design, development and implementation of the online version.”

Dorman admits that distance learning was all very new to her when she was approached, but says that Bhagya told her that she “got” it. Believing Bhagya knew more than she did, Dorman forged on, spending her spare time over a four-year period typing lecture material, scanning pictures, creating quizzes and homework and looking for appropriate videos to enhance the lecture material.

“I’m just so thankful I was given the time to build a quality online class,” she said. “We also have many experts on campus, teachers who know what will and what won’t work in the online environment and they are always willing to share their expertise.”

As an instructor for more than 30 years, Dorman was accustomed to having the students in front of her, where they can read facial expressions and body language and she could always put a name with a face. When taking online classes, the teacher and the student do forfeit some of the personalization that comes with face-to-face instruction. Srinivasan says that she believes Dorman understands that an online class requires more from the instructor than a face-to-face class, as evidenced by the high level of interactive assignments and communications that she built into the medical terminology course.

“She spends significant amounts of time assuring that the students,” she said, “while not literally visible to herself or one another, still have a sense of community and connectedness to her and their fellow students, as well as being a part of the collegiate community of which their course is a part.”

Dorman says that she loves to teach the class by either method, because the human body is an amazing thing to study. Teaching online, however, gives her the ability to reach more students that may not be able to come to campus due to a job or family or other circumstances. She admits that there are drawbacks, though.

“Not knowing what my students look like,” she said, “and not being able to answer questions instantly. Also, it’s too hard to put my personality with the written word.”

This being the second award Dorman’s online medical terminology class has received, she says she is just as surprised the second time around. She encourages other teachers who may be intimidated by making the switch to online courses to take advantage of the training provided by Bhagya at the LSC-O campus or their own instructional designers, and to ask lots of questions. Srinivasan says that Dorman is a “beacon of hope” for new instructors and inspires others to follow her lead in offering more courses online, while maintaining high educational standards.

“She developed a course that was creative, flexible, and at the same time maintained the high standard that is the milestone of LSCO,” she said. “She highly deserves the award for her excellence in online teaching.”