Kensak earns Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching

Dr. Michael Kensak, English and German professor and director of integrative general education at Northwestern College, has recently completed an Advanced Certificate in Online Teaching from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC).

The OLC Advanced Online Teaching Certificate Program is designed to help educators fine-tune existing distance learning courses and degree programs using the consortium’s Pillars of Quality in Online Education: learning effectiveness, scale, access, and faculty and student satisfaction.

“The program introduced me to several tools and strategies,” says Kensak. “I learned how to create presentations with images, inset video, call-out boxes, zooming and panning. I can use these to walk my online students through the syllabus, explain how to navigate the course website, and talk through assignments.”

The program allows participants to leverage their backgrounds as educators to become highly effective in the principles and practices of asynchronous instruction. It also integrates OLC’s conceptual and theoretical foundations relating to learning theory and assessment to complement an online classroom. Kensak was also provided with practical ways to address the needs of online students with disabilities, including providing transcripts for audio lectures for the hearing-impaired. “There are accessibility standards that cover everything from font size in Word documents to text equivalents for images in PowerPoint presentations,” says Kensak.

“I also learned a lot about learning styles or preferences,” says Kensak. “As a result, I’m experimenting with a new way of providing feedback on writing assignments. If students know they take in information better by listening, I’m going to provide them with the option of receiving audio files with my comments on their work.”

Kensak will pull from what he’s learned in the OLC program in the online courses he’ll teach during the summer of 2016, as well as a course he’s developing for the Council of Independent Colleges Consortium for Online Humanities.

A member of Northwestern’s faculty since 1999, Kensak has been published in journals like The Chaucer Review, Studies in Philology and Philological Quarterly. He produced a multimedia German textbook for use in Northwestern’s four-course German sequence with funding by the Lilly Foundation. Kensak earned a doctorate in English from Vanderbilt and a bachelor’s degree in comparative literature and music performance from Princeton University.