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Meet Sue Doner from the University of Victoria

sdoner-profile_oct2012Emily Schudel, University of Victoria and also a member of SCETUG, interviews Sue Doner, Distance Education Services, Continuing Studies, University of Victoria.

Tell us a bit about where you work and what you do.

I work in the Distance Education Services (DES) unit at the University of Victoria. DES is housed in and primarily supports the Division of Continuing Studies, and my work in DES includes course development & design for distance programs geared towards the “adult learner”. I also teach online orientation workshops for students in these programs.
In addition to course design/development, my other favourite areas of focus in online learning include Universal Instructional Design (i.e. pro-actively addressing accessibility issues for users with a disability) and digital privacy/identity management.

How long have you been involved in teaching and learning and educational technology?

I’ve feel like I’ve been in a university setting for most of my life (!), but I’ve been involved in the field of online learning since 1998.  I moved to Victoria from southeastern Ontario in 1994 to take a graduate program (History) at UVic, after which I stayed on to take another program in IT management. That led to a work-study position with DES in 1998, which became a full-time, continuing position. My original position with DES was primarily as a web designer/developer and online helpdesk support, but I moved into an instructional design position around 1999. When I first started working with DES, we were building bespoke websites that were supported by listservs or teleconferences or threaded-discussion software, and since then we have followed much the same path as everyone else through difference course-management systems and synchronous communications programs.

What’s one thing you really love about the work you do?

I really enjoy the conceptual puzzle and creative opportunities that each new course development project represents. It’s certainly challenging working with a subject matter expert who has either never developed a course before or never taught online before – or both! Being part of the course team that takes the germ of an idea for a course from the bare-bones of a calendar description through to a fully-realized learning object with interesting content, creative assessment strategies and appropriate technologies to support those plans is hugely satisfying to me. As a secondary benefit, I also greatly appreciate the exposure I get to topics and subjects I am not familiar with – it’s like every new course development gives me a chance to audit a course (very, very thoroughly!)

How long have you been a member of ETUG?

I’m not actually sure. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve lost track of which inter-institutional events we’ve participated in with some of our mainland colleagues were officially ETUG –related and which were less formally classified pro-d events. I think the first ETUG workshop I went to was sometime around 2000 or 2001 in downtown Vancouver.

What do you like best about this community and its activities?

ETUG feels very grassroots to me, and I relate to that – it’s the “boots on the ground” members of our profession vs. disconnected administrators or formal & theoretically-focused academics, etc. I’m probably a little late to the party on my ETUG appreciation compared to some of my colleagues, but what I’ve really come to appreciate about ETUG in recent years is the highly practical focus of the workshops and the informal/friendly atmosphere of ETUG events.

Do you have any special interests/hobbies?

Gardening!! Playing in the dirt and creating living art spaces with beautiful plants – it was heaven to me to move to Victoria and find that I could garden pretty much all year round. My husband and my 5-year old daughter also enjoy gardening, so I get the best of all worlds when we have family days puttering in the garden.

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