Besides the requisite files and stacks of books, there's the comfy guest chair, boxes of bright inflatable exercise balls, a set of antique Indian clubs (old-school exercise weights), and a wall covered with pictures of her kids running and playing outside. She smiles easily and talks animatedly about the program she will become Director of this fall — UNCG's innovative new online Ed.D. in Kinesiology, a dream several years in the planning.
Though the Department of Kinesiology has long sponsored a face-to-face Ed.D. program, in Fall 2014 it will transition to an online program and welcome its first online learning cohort. The Ed.D. online in Kinesiology will be the first fully online doctoral program at UNCG and the first of its kind in the country.
Kinesiology is the science of human movement. The Kinesiology Ed.D. is aimed at professionals already working in the field for several years who want a degree focusing on professional scholarship and practice in leadership, advocacy, and teaching.
Emphasizing pedagogy and professional practice, the Ed.D. may be an especially useful degree pursuit for the following professionals:
- athletic trainers
- sport and exercise psychology consultants
- fitness professionals
- high school and college coaches
- community recreation and sport leaders
- clinical program directors
- strength coaches
- physical education and health professionals
- college instructors or administrators
"We've already received a lot of interest from fitness professionals, school teachers, college instructors and coaches, among others," Dr. Brown says happily.
The four-year program offers several advantages to working professionals:
- It's online and asynchronous. Students can study whenever they want wherever they are. They don't have to come to campus, except for short once-a-year summer visits. This makes the degree possible for students who work full time and have other obligations.
- It provides support and fosters multiple perspectives. Students in the same year are based in a cohort and take the same courses at the same time. Cohort members also visit campus for orientation before they start, and in Years 3 and 4, where they preview the year's activities, prepare for their dissertation, and see what other cohorts are doing. This helps build professional networks and strong learning communities. Much of the learning is collaborative and team-based. Students meet, work with, and are supported by those with similar interests but also learn to view issues from different perspectives, such as leadership vs. teaching and learning vs. advocacy. The program's goal is not only to impart knowledge but to provide the support students need to succeed.
- It promotes practice while learning. Some of the exercises, for example, in KIN 706 Online Pedagogy, where students build their own course website, are designed for students to be able to apply in their own work setting as they learn.
Dr. Brown's interest in online education began as she pursued her Ed.D. here at UNCG in the early 2000s. She had already earned a Bachelor's in Physical education at SUNY-Cortland, then an MA from UNC Chapel Hill in Exercise Physiology — Cardiac and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, where she also served as Director of Aquatics for the Department of Exercise and Sport Science for a year. She had left her job teaching and coaching women's soccer and tennis at Chowan College (now Chowan University) in Murfreesboro, NC in order to pursue her doctorate full time. Fortunately, she got a position as an adjunct to help pay bills.
But many weren't so lucky. "I saw students drive in 3 1/2 hours from the mountains every week for classes," she says, "and then drive home afterward in the middle of the night." They couldn't afford to go to school full time or didn't want to leave their jobs. "Over the years, it became harder and harder to help face-to-face Ed.D. students to attend class and succeed."
Dr. Brown's first foray into online course development took place in 2005 when she worked with UNCG's Division of Continual Learning (DCL) to create KIN 220: Physical Fitness for Life, where she created numerous engaging and interactive activities. The most popular was the Case Study of Bob, a depressed, overweight student whose parents are pressuring him. A major task for him is to decide whether to tackle his mental or physical problems first. Students found Bob easy to relate to. "The discussion board activity that follows usually explodes with conversation," Dr. Brown notes. Bob makes a guest appearance in the new KIN 706 Online Pedagogy course, as students create their own unit for an online course.Dr. Brown's exceptional curriculum and teaching skills were recognized in 2007 when she received the Teaching Excellence Award for the School of Health and Human Sciences.
By that time, a core group of faculty began supporting the idea of an online Ed.D., including Dr. Sandy Shultz, Kinesiology Department Chair; Dr. Jennifer Etnier, Kinesiology Director of Graduate Study; Dr. David Demo, Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, H uman Development and Family Studies; Kinesiology faculty Dr. Aaron Terranova, Dr. Diane Gill, Dr. William Karper, Dr. Scott Ross, Dr. Laurie Wideman, and Dr. Cathy Ennis; and Dr. Jane Harris, HHS ITC/Blackboard Support and 2014 winner of the Katherine H. Taylor Award for Teaching Excellence.
In January 2013, Dr. Brown became a UNCG DCL Faculty Fellow where she and DCL course development experts worked with faculty to develop their KIN courses for the Ed.D. online. Now this coming fall those efforts pay off as the Ed.D. online in Kinesiology launches with enthusiastic departmental, HHS, and University support.
By: Coventry Kessler