Connie Lavergne has taught at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette for 34 years, but she’s not behind the times. On the contrary, she is at the forefront of online education, always learning new techniques and challenging herself.
“I love learning — I don’t mind tackling something I don’t understand because eventually you get it,” she says. And she does get it; after all, she has been teaching online courses since 2007.
A senior instructor in the School of Kinesiology, Lavergne is a certified ULearn Course Designer and Online Teacher. This fall she will lead several online courses, including KNES 402, Organization and Administration for Kinesiology.
That course is a virtual internship; students run a business all semester in sports management, first picking a university and then assuming the role of the athletic director. Her students create sports schedules, develop budgets, and market their programs. Their work in the digital world goes beyond frequent use of texts and emails — they learn to share documents and calendars using the Google suite of technology tools and hold online meetings via Google Hangouts, recording the sessions for later review.
Her use of VoiceThread and Google Hangouts promotes student conversations, but Lavergne also provides direct instruction through integrated video resources and screencast recordings of technology demonstrations. Using the integrated tools allows her to track student engagement with the content.
She also incorporates a personal touch. Early each semester, she does optional one-on-one meetings with students, often using Skype or web conferencing, to develop a personal connection. She encourages students with questions to reach out to her via email or text messaging.
“I’m always there to help them but I’m not going to do it for them,” she says. “Students really have to take responsibility for their work. The real world happens that way.”
The online format — studying anytime, anywhere — works well for students with family responsibilities and jobs. One recent student took Lavergne’s class while traveling across Malaysia and Taiwan.
Grading, evaluating and being available for students outside usual hours is time consuming, but Lavergne loves to see her students succeed. She is always looking for new techniques that could put her students “a little bit ahead in the real world.”