|Florence Elliott completed her Bachelor of Science degree program with dual certification in Elementary and Kindergarten Education, and Early Childhood Education in 1976 from Pennsylvania State University. Later, she obtained a Master of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis in Gifted Education, as well as, a certification as an Instructional Technology Specialist from Gannon University.
Florence has created and disseminated workshops and technology training for early childhood programs, funded by the Link-to-Learn grant. Additionally, she developed and directed various early childhood programs in Pennsylvania. Florence has worked with special needs children from infancy through high school in various schools, special programs and in parenting:
|Dr. and Mrs. Elliott are the parents of five gifted/talented/special needs children. All have done coursework or degrees through brick-and-mortar, blended and online programs. The youngest has a Chiari I brain malformation and has always studied in an online/homeschool environment. She is currently in the AP program through her online school.
Florence has been an online instructor for Grand Canyon University since 2003.
How has facilitating online courses at GCU helped you find your purpose?
Working for Grand Canyon University has provided an experience in teaching online that bridges face-to-face learning to online learning with the added freedom of including prayer support and encouragement in the spiritual realm. Teaching both graduate and undergraduate courses has provided valuable perspective on needs of online students at various levels.
Being able to teach in a Christian environment has opened doors to teaching with a heart that has not always been available through other teaching situations. Prayer needs are shared in my courses through a Cyber Chapel forum and through the university prayer request link. Students are always able to find a way to share their needs and joys. This is an element of working with others that seems to be unique to Christian universities. It has been a joy to work in this environment.
What is one effective teaching strategy you use in your online classes?
Students who attend Grand Canyon University come from many walks of life and wear many hats as they try to earn their degrees. Understanding the complexities of life as a Christian, a professional and a parent is helpful in addressing the needs of students. Since GCU is a caring university, I have been permitted to help students through exercising the following strategies, among others:
Allowing extensions and re-submissions seems to be one very effective strategy that my students have appreciated and benefitted from. I make a concerted effort to set a tone of friendly community and to encourage students to share in forums, emails, and calls. Students are encouraged to post questions to obtain clarifications. I stress that any question asked will benefit all. The Questions for Instructor forum is used heavily in my classes, but students frequently communicate through course mail and alternative email provided by the university. Students have been very communicative in all forums and often express appreciation for the extension of understanding, sympathy in death and sickness and extra time on task when Murphy visits and they feel overwhelmed.
An additional effective strategy used in my classes is the use of ice-breakers or toolbox fillers shared with students. I enjoy the rallying of students to share their "finds" with each other.
Sandwiching of feedback is another strategy I use. Starting with a positive portion, moving to the suggestions for improvement and detailing of edits done, followed by an overall, encouraging comment sits well with students because it's not just information on needed change. Students report feeling uplifted by the comments they receive and, generally, seek the resources that are suggested, further helping them perform better in courses.
What is a GCU online student success story you can share?
Students with health and family concerns, death, relocation, resultant problems from natural disasters and cognitive concerns come quickly to mind. Students with vision problems, stroke alterations to life, and myriad special needs have found that through extensions, assignment clarifications, communications/support from instructor and re-submission permission, the work of the courses can be managed. Students are encouraged to seek peer tutor editing/writing assistance and receive textual feedback within all graded documents. Students report looking forward to the feedback because they appreciate the guidance they receive, as well as compliments on their work. Two examples follow:
One woman was a cancer victim-revisited. Through God's grace, medical expertise and scholastic extensions/frequent communications, she was able to complete all elements of all assignments...she victored over not only the coursework, but the cancer. She was so thankful for extensions and all the communications. Throughout her treatments, she remained dedicated to teaching, working on her degree and working with her family to lift them up during the tragic occurrence of another round of cancer in her life. She was an inspiration, but she felt that GCU was an inspirational anchor for her during that period of her life.
One gentleman was working toward his instructional technology certification in his state when he had a stroke. He was unable to function as he once had and found typing to be tedious. In spite of that, he worked very hard at the assignment completion. He needed some extra edits; however, with the extra assistance, he was able to complete the coursework. He expressed gratitude for the extra editing and permission to resubmit, along with the extensions given during his rehabilitation/recovery.
A school that allows an instructor to help students in these ways to do their work...really works! As instructors, we can only be as good as our employer - an employer who allows us to be who we are and allows us to reach out to students in so many ways.