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“I love working in online education because it’s changing the structure of higher education for working adults,” says Dr. José Rodriguez. “It gives them the opportunity to work full-time and to learn around their work hours.”
The flexibility of online education attracted Dr. Rodriguez to the university, where he is currently serving as assistant dean for the School of Education and associate professor/program director for Educational Leadership. “Our mission here at the university is that we try to provide access to as many students as possible, because we know that many of our learners face challenges such as geographical challenges. There might not be a university anywhere near where they live," he explains.
He notes that the university’s students also have other responsibilities such as raising their children or taking care of their parents. By providing online education to students all over the world, Dr. Rodriguez knows that students can further their educational goals and their career goals at the same time.
Dr. Rodriguez recognizes that advances in technology have helped both students and instructors, especially in online education. He observes, “Technology is changing so fast. But it also allows instructors to be more proactive and to engage students in more meaningful ways. Students are then in a better position to be successful.”
“I love the first week of class," he adds. "The students are excited, they’re intrigued about the course, and they’re eager to engage with each other. Engagement in the online forums is key to online teaching, and I try to maintain a level of high energy and engagement throughout the entire course. Students are engaged every week, through forums, classroom assignments, email, and video conferencing.”
Dr. Rodriguez says that online education has been especially helpful for military students, because it eases their transition from military life to civilian life. He notes that the university provides information and opportunities that make it easier for military students to succeed higher up in the military or in a civilian work environment.
To maintain relevant content for his academic program, Dr. Rodriguez keeps in touch with local K-12 educators to remain aware of developments in the educational field, and he reads journals and other industry publications. Dr. Rodriguez is also a member of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), an international education association dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading.
Dr. Rodriguez is known for his experience with competency-based education, a learning model that allows students to progress at their own pace to meet the competencies and the learning objectives for each respective course. He says, “It really incentivizes students, and it provides them with a great opportunity to receive a quality education at a lower cost.”
The university faculty members working with Dr. Rodriguez focus on providing professional development to teachers and ensuring the enhancement of student learning. Dr. Rodriguez notes, “I’d like to see the K-12 schools eventually adopt a more online model or a hybrid of online and offline instruction. A more flexible method of instruction could lead to lower dropout rates from high school students, who often have to choose between getting a high school diploma or going to work and earning their G.E.D. later in life.”