Two Northern Essex Professors Receive Honors for Online Course Design

Northern Essex Community College professors Sheila Kane,and Kevin Fleese. (Courtesy photographs.)

Two Northern Essex Community College online courses, both of which use engaging, interactive tools to help students to excel, are tops in the state.

The professors who designed the courses, Sheila Kane of Medford, and Kevin Fleese of Manchester, N.H., received the 2017 Massachusetts Colleges Online Course of Distinction Award. The award is given to state faculty who develop and teach innovative online and blended courses that are representative of the best uses of eLearning instructional tools to help bring student success.

The awards were presented during the 12th annual conference on eLearning “Sharing Best Practices” at Greenfield Community College last month. Massachusetts Colleges Online is a consortium of the 15 community colleges and nine state colleges.

Kane designed a hybrid Personal Health and Wellness course that students in the Public Health Associate Degree Program and the Community Health Worker Certificate Program are required to take.

She found aspects of the course, like the interactive syllabus, so successful, she incorporated it into her Clinical Pathophysiology Course and plans to use it in other courses in the future.

“I hoped that a more engaging syllabus would help students understand the expectations and requirements of the course, thus improving chance of success and retention in the course…I did notice students had fewer questions about grading, assignment due dates, etc.,” she said.

Her interactive syllabus includes practice questions and a graded quiz. Weekly narrated lectures are short, searchable, and broken up with key questions. Students learn about health by using interactive online tools like “USDA Choose My Plate” and “Fruit and Vegetable Quizzes” to test their knowledge about food groups. Lessons include animations and activities to truly engage students with the course content.

For 14 years, Kane has taught in Northern Essex’s associate degree and practical nursing programs. She teaches several hybrid courses though the iHealth program. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from Rhode Island College, a Master of Science in Parent Child Health Nursing from Boston University, and a Nurse-Midwifery Certificate from State University of New York, Downstate Medical Center.

Fleese, who has taught in the American Sign Language Program at Northern Essex for 23 years, earned the honor for an intermediate online linguistics class he designed for students in the ASL program. He uses interactive modules designed to demonstrate the studying and analyzing of American Sign Language. These interactive modules include video tutorials that allow students access to “close-up” parts of sign language. He offers two other ASL courses online, both of which use pre-recorded video lectures.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Arts and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Gallaudet University and a Master of Education in Deaf Studies from Boston University.