“… technology can’t get in the way of student learning …”
Before online learning became a pandemic necessity, Christine Kudelka, professor emeritus, (MBA faculty, College of Business and Technology) has been teaching remotely for over a decade as part of Concordia University’s online education initiative. While she taught online, on campus and a hybrid of both practices for many years, Kudelka has been exclusively teaching online for the last year.
“The bottom line is the technology can’t get in the way of student learning, so we spend a great deal of our time ensuring the education still becomes that vehicle for a transformative experience,” says Kudelka, who lives in Plymouth’s Trillium Woods, senior living community. “And our goal is always to transform the life of that student.”
After a decades-long corporate career in executive sales and marketing, Kudelka made the switch from teaching part-time as an adjunct professor of the MBA business program at the University of St. Thomas to a full-time teaching opportunity at Concordia.
Kudelka’s students are predominantly working professionals in their early to mid-career and are looking for a path forward. “Technology has impacted all of our lives, and education is no exception to that,” she says. “It becomes extremely important for you to see that the technology allows you to give the student more options for flexibility.”
Online courses give professionals working a 9-to-5 schedule options to advance their education and opportunities without putting their careers on hold. “Concordia University actually pioneered online education, especially in this area, about 12 or 13 years ago,” Kudelka says.
Kudelka says she and her colleagues have spent years refining the syllabus and developing the program to teach skills, including critical thinking, adaptability and the evaluative process.
“… even though you’re teaching online, you still have to make the connection to the students. And how you build that connection and the engagement with them is vital,” Kudelka says. Her program focuses on an applied, real-life and case-based teaching strategy, working in concert with the discussion boards, online chats, readings and virtual classroom lectures. Cases are a useful way to apply current events to a business management lens.
Though the recent pandemic didn’t affect the day-to-day logistics of the already virtual program, Kudelka says other aspects did change. “How do you lead teams in a virtual environment? What does that look like now? How has your work environment changed?”
Although she began her path to retirement in December of last year, Kudelka continues to teach until she’s seen all the students enrolled in the cohort groups she started in the MBA program complete their capstone thesis projects.