Bass Online Apprentice Collaborates to Create Global Online Learning Experience

The Graduate School’s Bass Online Apprentice Fellowship offered in partnership with the Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) provides Ph.D. students hands-on experience in online college teaching by collaborating with Duke faculty to develop Coursera MOOCs. This offers a unique opportunity for Bass fellows to work with a project team of faculty, academic technology consultants, and online course associates to create global online learning experiences and to interact with learners from around the world.

Courtnea Rainey, a Ph.D. candidate in psychology and neuroscience recently completed an apprenticeship with CIT, assisting with two Coursera MOOCs: The Brain and Space and a future iteration of  Medical Neuroscience. Her tasks involved coordinating the work of undergraduate teaching assistants, assisting the faculty to create course content and prepare instructional materials, editing video lectures with ScreenFlow, and assisting with course management tasks while the MOOC was in session.

Courtnea Rainey
Courtnea Rainey

Courtnea explained her motivation for applying to the Bass Online Apprentice Fellowship program:

“As a memory researcher and an instructor, I know that learning/education can be a transformative experience for the learner. As such, I have a long-held interest in different options for reducing barriers to education, so that more people can access these transformative educational experiences. I was intrigued by the potential of online teaching to remove some of the classic barriers to education (expensive tuition, rigid class schedules, rigid curriculum based on regional course offerings) and applied to the Bass OA Fellowship to learn more about online teaching as a medium to promote educational access.”

Courtnea acquired hands-on experience and knowledge of online course design, management, and execution. She hoped to further develop her general skills in teaching and working with diverse populations of students in education. Collaborating with members of a project team to create a wide-reaching learning experience helped her achieve that goal.  “The opportunities and support I received as a Bass online apprentice allowed me to meet and surpass these objectives.”

How did the CIT apprenticeship help Courtnea meet her goals?

“I believe one of the true gifts of the program is to be able to simultaneously work with Duke faculty, the Center for Instructional Technology, and in my case, undergraduate teaching assistants.  Working with Duke faculty as they created and edited MOOCs was akin to being mentored in teaching; in supporting these MOOCs, I was able to observe how a more skilled instructor would approach a problem such as clarifying course content, designing challenging assessments, and restructuring a pre-existing online course to fit into a new specialization.”

By working directly with CIT staff, Courtnea was able to acquire competencies in presenting course content in the Coursera MOOC platform, and in the learning management system, Sakai, while acquiring skills to create and edit video lectures using iMovie and ScreenFlow.

How will Courtnea apply what she’s learned?

She is most excited to apply what she’s learned  to increase the scale and scope of her future science outreach efforts.

“Before completing the Bass Online Apprenticeship, my efforts to promote educational access were exclusively face-to-face outreach activities (high school class visits, college tours, mentoring programs). I now have concrete examples of how I can also promote educational access through the creation and presentation of courses online using a comprehensive system like Coursera, or using applications like Google Sites, YouTube, and Adobe Connect. I am very excited to be able to expand the reach of my future outreach efforts using these online teaching tools.”

The apprenticeship with CIT helps fellows develop online teaching competencies while gaining course design and development experience, adding this in-demand skillset to their portfolio that’s transferable across disciplines and professions. Courtnea explains:

“The Bass OA fellowship has changed my approach to teaching and training because I am now aware more than ever that instruction and training is less confined by geography and time. For example, I am finishing my doctoral studies in a lab that collects behavioral, physiological, and neural data to study human memory and motivation.  Currently, I am one of the few people in the lab collecting and analyzing galvanic skin response data and I had begun to think about how I could ensure this knowledge is maintained/supported in the lab after I graduate. Before engaging in online teaching, my usual tendency would be to create a written manual. However, after completing the Bass OA fellowship, I now think a series of video lectures that capture the steps of GSR data collection and analysis (as well as problems that unexpectedly arise) might be the most useful resources for future lab members.”

The online apprenticeship with CIT provides participants valuable insights into innovative teaching practices by working with Duke faculty, and gives apprentices a “behind-the-scenes” look at the work required to design and develop a global online course.

Courtnea sums up the value of the Bass online apprenticeship: “Overall, I feel very fortunate to have experienced the immersive learning opportunity and am confident that I will be able to utilize the skills and experiences acquired as a Bass OA Fellow in future professional endeavors.”


Learn more about the Bass Online Apprenticeship with CIT:

Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Author: Sophia Stone, Ed.D.

Sophia collaborates with faculty to provide pedagogical and academic technology consulting, training, and project management, for campus-based and online initiatives. She consults on innovative teaching practices across academic disciplines, and works with faculty on course planning, course design and development, and assessment strategies. Her research interests include global online education, instructional design, faculty development, distance education, and international learners.