Open SUNY Online Teaching Ambassador 2018 – Albany: Jason Vickers
Jason Vickers, Ph.D., is a full-time lecturer in the Department of Educational Theory and Practice at the University at Albany, SUNY. He received his Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from University at Albany in Spring 2012. He has taught in the department since his graduation. His position is unique in that he is a full-time lecturer and chair of the Student Committee for the department, yet he resides in Cairo, Georgia. He regularly attends faculty and other meetings virtually through Skype.
Dr. Vickers subscribes to a collaborative constructivist teaching philosophy where students and the instructor work collaboratively in online environments to create knowledge. In line with this is the Community of Inquiry framework for online learning, which Dr. Vickers also follows. As such, courses rely on discussions where students co-create knowledge. He also asks students to create practical projects they can use within their classrooms.
Dr. Vickers teaches three online courses in both Fall and Spring semesters and teachers two online courses in Summer semester. He consistently teaches Introduction to Online Learning, Introduction to Distance Learning, K-12 Online Teaching and Learning, Integrating Media across the Curriculum, Media in the Language Classroom, and Introduction to Games Design for Educators. He has previously taught courses on media in education, games in education, and multimedia.
In his Blackboard-hosted courses, Dr. Vickers utilizes an array of technology to promote student learning and knowledge sharing. In one course, he uses Blackboard’s blog feature to have students compile a list of technologies they can use in their classrooms. At the end of the course, he archives the blog, converts it to PDF format, and provides it to students. In another course, Wikis are employed to have students collaboratively author documents featuring Web 2.0 resources to be used in the online classroom and provide links to scholarly articles about online learning. This wiki is entirely student-driven. Furthermore, Dr. Vickers has employed VoiceThread to have students create verbal module-end journals of what they learned. He then responds privately to the VoiceThread entries. Students have indicated that this method of communication creates more social presence in the class; students articulate that they feel closer to the instructor as a result of using VoiceThread. In order to meet the needs of students, Dr. Vickers continuously communicates via the Announcements feature and Ask a Question sections. He uses Skype for virtual office hours and maintains constant email communication with his students.
In terms of research, Dr. Vickers has co-authored several papers on aspects of the Community of Inquiry framework and instructional efforts by faculty in online courses. He has also authored several book chapters including one on social presence in the Community of Inquiry framework and one on student perception of self-assessment of online discussions. His current research interest is in self-assessments of online discussions.