Certificate in online learning helps professor meet student needs

A UW-Madison biochem professor completed a certificate in online education to better meet student needs

Students all learn differently, especially when it comes to sciences like biochemistry. Some are visual learners, others auditory. Sometimes things click better after a demonstration. It can be helpful for others to listen or watch something multiple times rather than having to absorb it in just one lecture.

Lynne Prost, a faculty associate in the UW-Madison department of biochemistry, used a university professional development grant to complete the Professional Certificate in Online Education from Continuing Studies and develop skills to better serve her students.

Lynne Prost biochemistry professor at UW-Madison
Lynne Prost, biochemistry faculty associate at UW-Madison, expanded her online teaching skills to improve student learning.

Incorporating new concepts in class

“I don’t teach a fully online course right now but I incorporate online assignments and content into my courses,” Prost explains. “I was interested in learning how to get better at this kind of online material but also getting more educated on how all the pieces fit together and link back to our student-focused learning objectives.”

She gained knowledge about writing course objectives and course organization, all in the context of online education. She also learned about effective online active learning opportunities and tackled important questions in online education: How do you maintain instructor presence in an online space? How can students be both independent and collaborative online?

In Prost’s class, students view online material, attend an in-person class that incorporates active learning, and then get hands-on experience in the lab. The in-person portion covers the biological concepts behind the laboratory experiments. Demonstration videos prepare the students for the lab portion.

Through the Professional Certificate in Online Education, Prost learned how all of this material can be better integrated with course objectives.

Learning from the students’ point of view

“The certificate program was fully online so I got to be an online student and participate in some of these activities from that perspective,” she says.

Prost adds, “This certificate helped me put all the pieces together and give our students different modalities and some flexibility in how they learn important concepts and techniques in biochemistry.”

Next class starts June 11

The next 16-week Professional Certificate in Online Education runs from June 11-October 7, and is completely online. The cost is $1,595 with group discounts available.  Students should plan to spend five to seven hours a week on the content and assignments.

Students learn by doing and cover contextual factors of online education, teaching and learning principles specific to online environments, and effects of technology on education at a distance. They conclude with an eportfolio that demonstrates their ability to plan online learning and make sound instructional design decisions.

For more information, see the program webpage or contact Janet Staker Woerner at 608-890-3038, janet.stakerwoerner@wisc.edu.