School of Education professor Ana-Paula Correia will bring her passion for outreach and community to her role as the first faculty fellow of Engineering-LAS Online Learning. Photo by Blake Lanser.

New faculty fellowship spotlights the success of online education at Iowa State

Iowa State University’s Engineering-LAS Online Learning system has named its first faculty fellow — Ana-Paula Correia, an associate professor from the School of Education whose research focuses on learning design.

The decision to create the faculty fellowship is in part an effort to publicize the success of online education at Iowa State.

Engineering-LAS Online Learning oversees the online education efforts of two colleges – the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering. Online course enrollment in these colleges is growing by 15 to 20 percent each year, aided by an arsenal of talented faculty members instructing the offered courses.

“We have some excellent instructors who are teaching online,” said Tom Brumm, the professor in charge of the Engineering-LAS Online Learning who helped create the faculty fellowship.

With these professors at the helm, the university is able to offer top-of-the-line online education programs for professionals and others who are not able attend traditional college classes on campus. Students can receive some degrees entirely online such as a master of engineering degree or a bachelor of liberal studies. Additionally, faculty are using innovative online technology to foster learning.

But these faculty efforts aren’t widely known outside the university, Brumm said. The fellowship will provide a dedicated faculty member who can help hone the online learning system as it advances and publish academic studies documenting these successes.

“In the long term, I expect a big increase in the articles published by faculty teaching in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Engineering about their scholarly efforts in online learning,” Brumm said.

“With that will come an increase in the knowledge that people outside of Iowa State – especially those in academia – have about ISU online learning,” he added. “It should enhance our status as leaders in this area.”

The perfect person for the job

Brumm’s search for a fellow who could best help him attain these goals led him directly to Correia.

“She is uniquely qualified to help,” Brumm said.

Correia is an enthusiastic ambassador of online learning. She said she sees the faculty fellowship as an opportunity to expand education enormously, reaching people who don’t have the ability to meet at regular class times or come to campus.

“It brings freedom to learning,” Correia said. “It’s available everywhere and anywhere at any time and will help people achieve their educational aspirations.”

As a researcher, Correia has focused strongly on developing collaborative community learning in various contexts and environments. Her recent publications have focused on online learning environments and the use of technology in education.

She said she’s looking forward to developing more research on these topics and working with her colleagues to better online learning at Iowa State.

“The online learning community here has been constantly aiming at improving their practice,” Correia said. “That movement forward excites me to work with them.”

Correia will work closely with Rema Nilakanta, instructional development coordinator for Engineering-LAS Online Learning, and Nilakanta’s staff of graduate students. As a consultant to Nilakanta’s online learning design and development team, Correia will help develop ready-to-use research protocols, collect and analyze data, and publish the findings.

“With Dr. Correia joining our team, we will now be able to research the new ideas, make improvements to our design, and share our findings with other designers and scholars in the field,” Nilakanta said.

In the end, this progress will help the bigger picture Correia said she tries to always keep in mind — that research should ultimately be an asset to society at large.

“The bottom line is to help people learn,” she said.