Meeting the Minds – Dr. William Diehl-Jones


Dr. William Diehl-Jones is an associate professor of nursing with AU’s Faculty of Health Disciplines, and sits on the research committee for the children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. Recently, he took time out of his busy schedule to do this two-part interview for The Voice Magazine by Marie Well. You can find the first part here.

Marie: Do you use the Landing in your teaching practices? Why or why not?
William: No, but I should. I think it would be a good tool, but frankly, between my teaching, course design, and research and committee responsibilities, it has been one of those, “Oh yeah! I’ve got to get to that” situations. Still, it looks like it would be a great idea, and I think people put a lot of work into the Landing. I to have a closer look at the Landing over the Christmas break.

Marie: If you had one piece of advice for online learners, what would it be?
William: It would be that you get out of it what you put into it. You need to interact and engage with peers and professors to get the full value.

Marie: If you could wave a magic wand and improve one thing about online education, what would it be?
William: One word: holograms! I think technology is getting there, right? Instead of a video camera, why not a hologram? It would be that one extra step closer to conveying a physical presence that a student can talk to

Marie: What is your view on interdisciplinary studies?
William: Really necessary. I come at it from of the perspective of a researcher, in which interdisciplinary collaboration is an expectation of most major granting bodies. In terms of education and teaching, I think some of the best and most useful innovations come when people from different disciplines come together. Students in interdisciplinary studies can get the best of several worlds.

Marie: How do you keep abreast of best teaching practices?
William: You know what? I’ve got some really great colleagues, from kinesiologists to nurses to psychologists, who all put a lot of thought into how they teach. So, to improve my own teaching practices, I look forward to my Professional Development days in Edmonton with my colleagues. I also search online for journals or other materials which highlights the latest and greatest.

One thing in the future is to attend some teaching conferences.

Marie: What is Professional Development Day?
William: We have a Dean who very wisely allocates time during our in-person faculty meetings to really focus on and discuss teaching and research innovations. I have to say that that this is somewhat unique from my previous experience in academia. That our Dean makes it a point to have Professional Development sessions, and encourages us to present on latest teaching innovations, is one of the reasons I chose AU. We share our innovations and discoveries, whether it is teaching or research. My colleagues and I have discussed and presented on topics ranging from how best to move forward in our research programs, to how to keep our Faculty ’ahead of the curve’ in terms of on-line education. From coaching on how to present our professional personas to unique ways of providing student feedback through voice-over comments, I’ve always learned something valuable at PD days. All of us, I think, come away with one or two “neat ideas.” I was a tenured, promoted academic at another university, and was never before afforded that type of developmental opportunity.

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