Creating Engaging Online Courses: A How-To Guide

Therese Atjum-Roberts
Dr. Therese Ajtum-Roberts is the Director of the Office for Teaching, Learning, and Technology at Becker College.  Dr. Ajtum-Roberts is passionate about training and supporting educators in K–12 and college classrooms, with specialties in areas of: online teaching, curriculum development, differentiated instruction, educational technology, learning theory, and culturally responsive teaching strategies for teaching diverse learners. She has an extensive background in teaching, which includes online, hybrid, blended, and traditional classroom learning environments. Dr. Ajtum-Roberts integrates project-based learning activities into her course design, which requires student use of educational, multimodal technology tools such as blogs, wikis, voice threads, online presentation tools, Google Docs, social media tools, and online web authoring tools such as WordPress.

Paul Brydges
Paul Brydges is the Instructional Technology Specialist with the Office of Teaching, Learning and Technology at Becker College. In this role, he administrates Canvas for Becker and supports faculty in areas such as professional development, improving accessibility in online course content, and implementing instructional technology. Paul has a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology from the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He entered the field of higher education technology in 2015. He currently lives in Worcester, Massachusetts with his wife and two cats and enjoys reading, gaming, and local restaurants.

Lance Eaton
Lance Eaton is an instructional designer at Brandeis University, a doctoral student in UMASS Boston’s Higher Education program, and a part-time instructor at North Shore Community College.  His professional work focuses on improving student learning and experiences in online, hybrid, and traditional classrooms through faculty development focused on issues such as accessibility, universal design for learning, open educational resources, open pedagogy, and other inclusive practices that maximize student potential through traditional and newer pedagogies and technologies.  His doctoral work focuses on the limitations of the academic publishing regime for scholars who rely on piracy practices to access research literature in order to publish new research.  He also writes for several magazines and websites.  His musings can be found at 

Jessica Egan
Jessica has worked in the intersection of teaching and technology for over ten years. With two degrees heavily focused on curriculum and instruction from Florida State University, she began her career as an ESL instructor and was quickly drawn to data-driven course design and ways instructional technology can enhance teaching and learning. She currently teaches English composition courses and serves as the Associate Director of Instructional Design and Faculty Development with The American Women's College at Bay Path University. Her primary focus with Bay Path includes overseeing instructional design for online learning and adaptive course design. 

Rachael Kline
Rachael Kline is the Assistant Director of the Teaching, Learning & Technology department at Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts. With her background in compositional pedagogy, Rachael utilizes her passion for teaching for transfer (TFT) and her knowledge of rhetoric in her role as a professional development coordinator and adjunct faculty liaison. Rachael is responsible for researching the most contemporary and proven pedagogical practices in higher education and creating workshop opportunities to share these practices with full-time and part-time faculty members. Rachael also serves as a course developer, implementing these practices into courses across multiple disciplines including English and Social Sciences. Rachael holds a Master of Arts (M.A.) in English with a Concentration in Rhetoric and Composition from University of Massachusetts where she taught international students and was recognized for contributions to the ELL community. 

Cate LaPlante
I am a scientist-turned-educator with a passion for UI/UX design, educational content development, and interactive media. Before joining Siena, I was a game designer for a development company specializing in AR/VR for education, serious games, and edTech. I have had the chance to develop games, simulations, and interactive exhibits for Stanford, Yale, U Pitt Medical School, the Department of Defense, NOAA, and entertainment brands like Nickelodeon and Disney. In my work at Siena, I take a game-design approach to developing content for online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes. From a UI/UX perspective, this means helping guide faculty through the process of user-centered web design and developing responsive media/content that aligns with student expectations and needs. In my work at Siena, I take a game-design approach to developing content for online, hybrid, and face-to-face classes.  


Erica Pelletier
Erica holds a BA with a History minor and has worked for Bay Path University for 4 years. She has experience with technical support, instructional design, and handling student LMS issues. Erica collaborates across departments and works closely with Program Directors and senior leadership. Her main focus includes supporting high-quality course development. 

AJ Scognamiglio
AJ’s an instructional designer and lead on accessibility in online courses at Becker College. He’s been an instructional designer for over 4 years and been working in higher education for over 7. AJ’s current interests are accessibility, project-based learning, and promoting Becker’s agile mindset.

Amber Vail
Amber L. Vaill is the Vice President for Academic Affairs at Becker College. She has been an educator since 1999, has worked in higher education since 2007, and has extensive experience in online education and instructional technologies. Prior to moving into the field of higher education, she served as a secondary- and middle-school level English and history classroom and online teacher. 

Throughout her career Amber has developed and implemented online faculty and student support and training programs, including the creation of online student orientation courses and online faculty development initiatives. Amber has published and presented at numerous national and regional conferences on topics including online faculty development, supporting students through a transition to a new learning management system, and the importance of online student orientations. 

Amber has been actively involved in NERCOMP since 2011 when she first presented at the Annual Conference. Since then she has served as a Professional Development Coordinator, organizing a number of PDOs including working with colleagues to launch the annual Canvas User Group. She has presented various talks and posters at the NERCOMP Annual Conference over the past few years, has served on the NERCOMP Annual Conference Program Committee since 2013, and has also served as a NERCOMP Social Media Strategist. She is serving as Chair of the 2018 NERCOMP Annual Conference. 

Amber holds a Ph.D. in Education with an e-Learning specialization from Northcentral University, an M.Ed. in History from Westfield State University, and an M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instructional Technology from Framingham State University.

Misty Woodbury
As a teacher, writer and instructional designer, Misty has been creating engaging learning experiences and teaching adult learners since 2002. Her professional roles have included Sr. Lecturer at Northeastern University, Sr. Curriculum Developer at Amplify Learning, Instructional Designer at New England College of Optometry and freelance writer for various education publishers.  In her current role as Director of Emmanuel College’s Academic Technology and Innovation Group, Misty  helps instructors with the practical application of learning design principles and leveraging technology to transform teaching and learning in online and traditional courses.  

Misty lives in Roslindale with her son, an assortment of pets, and an ambitious, slightly out-of-control micro-garden.  If you would like any of her homegrown/ homemade blackberry jam or jarred tomatoes, she would be happy to give some away!