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Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Dutchess: Irene Hughes

Irene Hughes

Irene Hughes is the Program Chair of the Business Transfer and Occupational programs at Dutchess Community College. She earned her Master of Business Administration in 2005 from Mount Saint Mary College.

I began online teaching shortly after I taught my first collegiate class in 2006. I started my teaching journey in an adult accelerated hybrid program at a four year college and one of my first classes was blended online. That was my first introduction to an online learning platform. While I was nervous, to say the least, after my first training, I was excited about the opportunities that were becoming available. That first class consisted of mostly working adults who gave me my first glimpse of the great discussions and productivity that an online class can bring.

When I started teaching at SUNY Dutchess as a part time faculty, I was given the opportunity to be trained on our online student learning platform Angel. We have since moved to Blackboard and my online course exposure has grown tremendously. I currently teach both fully online courses and hybrid online courses at DCC and the results have been wonderful. Student interaction really has a chance to thrive in an online environment where students can share experiences and openly discuss the course material. I’ve experimented with online group assignments and they work! The variety of student backgrounds that come together for online learning creates a uniquely diverse learning environment that creates so many opportunities for growth. As the demand for online education continues to rise, it’s been exciting to explore the many tools available to make the most of this innovative educational experience.

I’ve also had the opportunity to experience online education as a student as well. I’ve taken some tremendous professional development courses through SUNY Empire and SUNY Oswego and those experiences have helped to shape my own online classroom. I like to remind my students of the discipline and independence required to succeed in the online classroom. I often joke that as a student, I’ve never worked as hard as I have in my graduate online courses! Hopefully my experiences act as validation for the work they will be putting in to achieve their course goals.

There is a flexibility and fluidity that an online class space provides, whether as a primary or supplementary medium, that allows students to be fully engaged in their work. Even my on-the-ground classes remark about how much they appreciate the features available on Blackboard. Grades are available, missed class work can be accessed, forums for discussion allow students to connect and resources are abound.

Online education allows us to reach a much wider audience and meet the needs of our ever changing students. While I know I still have so much to learn as online learning continues to evolve. I’m proud to be a part of these innovations with SUNY and honored to serve as a SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador.

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