Online education “convert” honored for excellence in distance education

Entering the world of distance education can feel like an overwhelming prospect to some faculty members. Below is an article about Ruth Schafer, an adjunct instructor at Drury University in Springfield, MO, and her award-winning journey into distance education. In the article, Ruth shares her experiences with distance ed, the challenges she faced, and some advice for other instructors who teach online.

eCampus News

By Dennis Carter, Assistant Editor

Aug 10th, 2010

Ruth Schafer thought she would miss the look of understanding register on a student’s face during her move from the traditional to the online classroom. But after being recognized as Missouri’s top distance educator, Schafer said the virtual setting made her find new ways to explain lessons in unmistakable detail.

Schafer, an adjunct English instructor at Drury University in Springfield, Mo., was awarded the Missouri Distance Learning Association’s (MoDLA) Educator of the Year award July 27 after five years of teaching composition fundamentals, expository writing, and business communications at the 3,500-student school.

Web-based teaching wasn’t Schafer’s first choice, but Drury officials told her that online courses were the only available position when she applied to the university in 2005.

And with no experience in the online classroom, Schafer wasn’t exactly brimming with confidence.

“I was really reluctant to do it,” said Schafer, who taught English classes at Missouri’s Willard High School and Missouri State University before her time at Drury. “I didn’t see how I could be myself and communicate with my students the way I had always done in the traditional classroom. I just didn’t think I could do it.”

Full article available at

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