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Learning Center Experience
Denise Douglas-Faraci, EdD, is an adjunct graduate education
professor and course lead at Kaplan University. Her active research agenda
instruction and curriculum and
investigations of effective e-Learning professional development for teachers.
Professor Douglas-Faraci’s teaching career spans nearly 30
years, and she has worked with students of various economic and cultural
backgrounds from grades K-12 to higher education.
September 2009, Professor Douglas-Faraci joined
Kaplan University’s department
of graduate education. She saw similarities
between Kaplan University’s priorities and her own. “At Kaplan University the
priorities are students, innovative pathways to higher education, and
accessibility to higher education,” she said. “I find there is an alignment
between these Kaplan University priorities and my personal education journey as
a lifelong learner.”
Professor Douglas-Faraci was in high school when she realized
her life’s calling was to become a teacher. However, like many students today, Professor
Douglas-Faraci had to balance a full-time job and her studies, so she was a
part-time student. It inevitably took her a decade to graduate, but that did
not dissuade her.
went to school at night while working in business. It wasn’t until about 15
years after high school graduation that I had an opportunity to take some
courses in teaching methods and get my certification so I could switch
careers,” said Professor Douglas-Faraci.
believes that if online
education programs had been available at that
time, she could have earned her degree much sooner. That is one of the many
benefits she sees in the advent of online learning.
social learning and networking aspects of online learning can be considerable
when you look at the location of participants. Geographically, they are
dispersed across the world. So the learning experience mirrors what many people
will find in their professions today,” she said. “For example, someone could be
sitting in the financial district in New York City on a conference call with
colleagues in London and the Far East. Virtual collaboration with fellow
students helps you prepare for those professional situations.”
Professor Douglas-Faraci also sees the online learning
experience as beneficial to teachers seeking professional growth, because as
educators they must be aware of cultural diversity in order to communicate
As an avid self-improver, Professor Douglas-Faraci has some
other tips for teachers aiming to advance their careers either through
obtaining master’s degrees or earning professional development credits. She recommends
observing teachers in the classroom, gaining a deeper understanding of technological
tools, understanding how to use data to inform instruction, having a strong
class management plan, and participating in workshops.
important step in becoming
a better teacher is observing others in
action. Professor Douglas-Faraci suggests
education programs that offer experiences
beyond student teaching, such as a semester of observation prior to student
Professor Douglas-Faraci has also found that technology-rich
programs help teachers graduate with a strong foothold in technology they can
use in their classrooms. She says Kaplan University delivers that through
courses where students can vet and select appropriate web-based tools that can
be implemented into their curriculum.
is constantly changing and teachers need support to keep pace with it and with
the process of integrating technology into their instructional practices.” said
Denise. “If a teacher’s instructional practices are current, and if the
professional development is relevant and engaging, teachers will be able to
apply new concepts to their teaching and have the professional proficiency to
facilitate student academic success.”
has another tip for teachers seeking professional development, which she can
attest to firsthand. After being inspired by educational literature, Denise has
searched online and found workshops where she could learn directly from the
authors. Often times professional development credits can be earned for
participating in such workshops.
learning opportunities like these that have helped Denise get to where she is
today. She also values the experience she has gained through teaching multiple
subjects (art, art history, English as a Second Language, British literature
just to name a few), and the broad range of students with whom she has
connected. She has worked with impoverished students and students from royalty
and taught everywhere from an international private school in New York to an
inner-city public school in Phoenix. But when asked about the contrasts between
those situations, Denise said she found more similarities than differences.
thing I’ve learned through my experience as a teacher is that education has a
powerful effect on students’ self confidence and happiness. Past students have
shared stories with me about how they have achieved their career goals as a
result of their education. Helping people make a difference in their lives is
the ultimate goal!”
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