A Magazine for the George Mason University Community

Distance Education

By Colleen Kearney Rich on May 30, 2013


Shahron Williams van Rooij
College of Education and Human Development

If you are a student in the Instructional Design and Technology Program, there’s a chance you might never be on campus and meet with your professor Shahron Williams van Rooij in person. Williams van Rooij, who was a software developer in the corporate world before joining academia, teaches the majority of her courses online.

Shahron Williams von Rooij

Shahron Williams von Rooij

“Most of my students are working professionals,” she says. “They are taking classes online for the obvious reasons—if you are traveling a lot or working late nights, it makes attending that 4:30 p.m. class almost impossible.”

Instead Williams van Rooij and her students are in touch virtually, meeting with technology tools like Skype or holding discussions within Blackboard Learn. Many are working on a master’s degree or refining their technology skills through the college’s e-Learning certificate program.

Much of the work is project based and asynchronous, allowing the working professionals to complete course work when they can and work in virtual teams from anywhere in the world. In one course, Williams van Rooij had a student who lived nine hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time.

For the Innovations in E-Learning course, the students are expected to come up with a project with a target audience and an instruction problem that needs to be solved. Then as a team they build a piece of that solution. Williams van Rooij says that many work on actual training or learning needs for their workplace.

“Deliverables that my students produce turn into real-world products,” she says.

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