Monday, June 22, 2009

Education for students, teacher

Lydia Gerber brings a world of experience to her new online course on Chinese civilization.
The WSU senior instructor was born in Germany, and studied in China. She speaks German, Chinese, some Japanese, and has studied Latin and Ancient Greek. But while she may know a lot about ancient cultures, she’s still learning about modern methods.
“I’m not a technology whiz by anybody’s standards,” she said, adding that her first foray into online instruction is “quite exciting and a bit nerve-racking.”
One immediate challenge, she said, is creating all the lessons of History 373 in advance for her online students. More... She credited Center for Distance and Professional Education instructional designer Cathy Keller with turning her wishes into virtual reality. “Being able to have somebody to whom I can say ‘I want a picture here or a slide there’ is very nice,” she said.
Gerber will be using this new technology to discuss more than history. “We’re also talking about yin and yang, Chinese traditional medicine, health practices, Tai Chi and Chinese art.”
Because online students tend to be older than on-campus students, Gerber expects more depth and diversity in those discussions. “When you’re talking about Confucian family relations,” she said, “it’s a lot different when everybody is 20 and thinking it’s horrible that younger people are undervalued.”
Gerber is married to WSU Economics Professor Bill Hallagan and has a 5-year-old son, Martin. In her spare time, she gardens, plays with her son and reads. She enjoys nonviolent murder mysteries, which she described as “where somebody gets killed, but it’s not a bloodbath.” She especially enjoys Dorothy L. Sayers, a British novelist known for her Lord Peter Wimsey series and for creative murder weapons, such as poisoned teeth fillings, a cat with poisoned claws, and a dagger made of ice.
But sometimes a clever poisoning isn’t relaxing enough.
“On days when everything is really horrible,” she said, “I snuggle up with my son and we watch ‘Golden Girls’ on DVD.”
Story by Richard H. Miller/Center for Distance and Professional Education

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