Almost everyone knows that in college, students learn from professors. But did you know that professors have teachers, too?
Meet Rhea Isla, Manager of Faculty Training and Development and adjunct professor at Chancellor. Rhea’s job is to develop and teach the faculty at Chancellor the best methods for connecting students with the subject matter they’re teaching.
“What I really do is train new faculty and teach them about our mission, values and best practices for what makes a really good online instructor,” she said. “I want to make sure faculty can get to the next level of connection.”
In an online environment it can sometimes be tough to make that connection. However, Rhea believes that it’s not as tough as one might think; she herself resides in Germany and “commutes” digitally every day.
“I’ve always been a virtual employee and I really don’t feel like I’m disconnected from anything,” she said. “Virtual is a powerhouse – you don’t have to waste time, money or energy commuting and setting yourself up each day. It’s already in front of you.”
As a military spouse, Rhea has spent a lot of time staying connected – whether she’s relocating to a new country or maintaining relationships, both professional and personal, she has always found a way to adapt.
“I’m very flexible and focused because of it,” she said. “I’ve worked and lived in many cultures. There is a constant sense that you have to change, which is something that has helped me professionally.”
She adds, “What I want faculty to take away from my training is, if I can make you feel connected from halfway across the world, you can make your students feel connected, too.”
In addition to teaching faculty how to utilize the best online resources for connecting with students, Rhea serves quality control to ensure that students are getting a top-notch education they can count on.
“We use a review process to measure the quality of our classrooms and how well faculty adhere to expectations, posting, feeding and timely participation,” she said. “I spend a lot of time looking into classrooms, doing spot-checks and conducting weekly and yearly reviews.”
“What is so great about my job,” she adds, “is that I get to be creative. I write content and curriculum and I get to be investigative and personable.”
So what is the next step Rhea is taking to ensure students stay connected and continue to feel at home at Chancellor?
“We’re going to start really leveraging Blackboard chat and posting videos,” said Rhea. “We want to have faculty names and faces all over Blackboard. I would like to see at least half our faculty using videos by summer.”
And while working hard to push the University into the future of online communication, Rhea says that it would simply not be possible without the hard work of everyone at Chancellor.
“At the end of the day I’m thankful for our students, staff and faculty and for their passion and commitment. We’re all committed to making this work,” she said. “It’s cliché, but ‘It takes a village’ and it really does!”