Jim Deal is a leading authority on delivering online education, and that’s vital as social distancing guidelines continue.
Deal has a wealth of experience in distance learning. He has been active in the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance, a consortium of universities that provide online undergraduate and graduate programs. His online courses have included Prenatal, Infant and Toddler Development; Children and Families Across Cultures; Issues in Human Sexuality; and Personal and Family Finance.
“The key to successfully teaching an online course is the same as with a face-to-face course: Establish a relationship with the students while you present material in a way that holds their interest,” said Deal, who joined the NDSU faculty in 1993.
Deal keeps his students engaged through regular email contact and by allowing his values and teaching style to come through during his online presentations.
“I provide chapter or unit introductions and supplemental materials that are written or recorded in ways that are very similar to what I’d do in a face-to-face class,” Deal said. “You can’t just stick readings and assignments online. You have to make the class an extension of you, just like you do with an in-person class.”
Deal said many students enjoy the flexibility of online courses. They can fit classes into their schedule and pick their preferred location to set up their computer.
He offers this advice to students: “Make sure you keep up — it’s easy to put things off and find yourself in trouble,” Deal said. “If you have problems or issues, contact your instructor as soon as possible. Remember that online isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay.”
Deal is the associate dean for research for the College of Human Sciences and Education. He earned his bachelor’s degree at Georgia Southern College and his master’s degree and doctorate in child and family development from the University of Georgia.