“Today’s students expect educational technology to be a part of their academic experience in the same way previous generations expected a chalkboard to be in every classroom,” said Christine Vasquez, associate professor in the English Department.

Vasquez was named Innovator of the Year by the Teaching and Learning Center (TLC) for her work with the department as well as for her successful implementation of rubrics and outcomes in Canvas. She started at Brookdale as an adjunct in 2003 and became full-time in 2004. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Lafayette College; a master’s degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park; and a master’s degree in education from Stanford University.

Christine Vasquez with her English students.
Christine Vasquez with her ENGL 236 students.

“The TLC has so much to offer faculty, and my experience working with the team has improved my online instruction.”

-Christine Vasquez

Vasquez initially became interested in teaching online because Brookdale was encouraging faculty to get certified to teach using the learning management system (LMS). “I decided to take the certification course taught by TLC Director Norah Kerr-McCurry and figured it would give me another option for variety in my teaching schedule,” she said. Vasquez has been teaching online classes utilizing the LMS in both her online and in-person classes since 2009. She currently teaches ENGL 122 and ENGL 235 online and is teaching a face-to-face section of ENGL 236 this semester.

Technology Expectations

“We live in an era where students are given Chromebooks in elementary school. They access their grades on a portal by middle school,” Vasquez said. She said students expect to utilize technology in an educational environment, and Canvas is an excellent way to integrate technology into the classroom.

“Almost all students seem to have a positive response to Canvas,” she said.

However, if something isn’t working for the students, Vasquez makes changes. “I check in with both my online and face-to-face classes about their Canvas experience regularly,” she said. “The technology needs to enhance the learning process, not slow it down in anyway.”

A Mutual Benefit & Partnership

The use of Canvas in online and in-person classes helps the instructor as well as the students. “It serves as a repository for learning materials and guarantees that students have access to the documents, files, and resources necessary for success in the course,” said Vasquez. She said additional benefits of utilizing Canvas are the ability to keep the class on target in the event of a cancellation and the online gradebook capabilities.

“The TLC has so much to offer faculty, and my experience working with the team has improved my online instruction,” Vasquez said. “I feel lucky to have terrific instructional designers and learning space specialists to provide the assistance needed to make my Canvas courses engaging and accessible. Their enthusiasm and willingness to help encourages me to continue to try new things.”

Photo caption:Christine Vasquez (center) received her certificate from Dr. Matthew Reed, vice president of learning, and Norah Kerr-McCurry, TLC director (right).