November 2015

Monday, November 9th, 2015

6:00 – 6:30 p.m.        Networking
6:30 – 8:00 p.m.        Business Meeting / Program

McNeely Hall, Room 117
2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul

See University of St. Thomas map at:

Title: The Institutional Imperatives and Socioeconomic Inequities Shaping Online College Coursework

About the Topic

Students don’t move into their Harvard dorm rooms and log-in to their courses. They walk across campus. But the 85% of American college students attending broad access institutions like state universities and community colleges are routinely taking courses this way – 2 out of 3 will take an online course at least once a semester. However, research resoundingly shows that community college students taking online courses (particularly developmental) are less likely to succeed there than they would in a traditional classroom. Although billed as the easily accessible and affordable education for all, online courses aren’t fulfilling that egalitarian promise; the delivery model is ill-suited for those currently disenfranchised students it seeks to serve. This presentation fleshes out these issues and proposes a move away from a mechanistic online pedagogy defined by empty terms like “best practices” to a relationship-based approach inspired by the work of Paulo Freire and bell hooks—a transformative pedagogy. The discussion will also address why online coursework is so appealing from an institutional perspective and how it serves institutional ideals of efficiency and economy in ways an experiential, relationship—based education cannot. Institutional and student demands for online coursework will only increase: we must serve students better, because more of them will be online.

About our Presenter

Mary Petrie teaches in English and Gender & Women’s Studies (GWS) at Inver Hills Community College. She founded the GWS program and is its only faculty member; the degree program is entirely online. She is a certified peer reviewer for Quality Matters, an education nonprofit which sets standards for online course construction and several of her own online classes have received QM certification. A leader and innovator in online teaching and educational technology both on campus and off, she was instrumental in redesigning her college’s Online Peer Mentoring Program, allowing established online students to guide those new to the format. She has led professional development workshops and technology training for faculty, and has presented her work on feminism and online education at conferences throughout the country. Her teaching interests are in women writers, feminist theory, contemporary fiction and creative writing. Mary is the recipient of a number of writing awards, including a Loft McKnight Creative Nonfiction Award, Minnesota State Arts Board Grant, and Creative Writing Mentor Series. Her first novel, At the End of Magic, was published in 2014 and other writing has appeared in various publications, including in the New York Times, Rake Magazine, and the now defunct web magazine, The Women’s Colony.