Purdue Profiles: Adam Dircksen

May 5, 2015  

Adam Dircksen

Adam Dircksen, continuing lecturer and online course director for the Department of Communication at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne. (Photo provided)
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Whether he is teaching a face-to-face class or a less traditional online course, Adam Dircksen strives, through the study and implementation of uniquely crafted teaching strategies, to make students feel excited about course material, connected to him as an instructor and eager to work collaboratively with their peers.

Dircksen is a continuing lecturer and online course director for the Department of Communication at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), where he earned both his bachelor's in media and public communication and master's degrees in professional communication. He was selected for IPFW's 2015 Featured Faculty Excellence in Teaching honor and was inducted into Indiana University's Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) IN 2014. His creative use of web-based conferencing and time-based media to create connections with students was recognized in 2010 when he received the DECCO award for Innovative Online Teaching.

How did you become interested in professional communication, and how has your career progressed?

I was originally interested in media production. As a student at IPFW, I had opportunities for internships, worked at a local television station and started my own small media production business. After finishing my MA in 2002, I served two years as a visiting instructor. There was a growing need for someone with online teaching experience in Communication and I was hired in 2004 as a continuing lecturer.  In 2008, in order to better serve changing needs of the department, University and students, I began serving as an online course director for communication.

What projects are you currently involved in?

Much of my service and many of the projects I work on are related to researching, developing and sharing ideas related to effective online teaching and learning. For example, I am on a team with three wonderful IPFW faculty, working on a Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) High Impact Practices project. We are studying literature and IPFW institutional data trying to gain better understandings of what factors students bring to their online classes that influences their success in those classes.

I am also an online course reviewer and serve on our department's Community Engagement Task Force.  We are working to expand our internship opportunities for students.

What projects are your students working on?

The student projects change semester by semester. I've learned that students are most likely to take ownership of their work and have confidence in their work and in themselves if they develop their own projects. There are relatively firm parameters and rigorous expectations to guide them and to set expectations high. Currently students in my Communicating Peace class, COM 471, are completing projects at the Fort Wayne Center for Nonviolence, with some of the IPFW Athletics teams, and at two local elementary schools. All projects focus on teaching concepts of nonviolence in some form or another.

What are some examples of the ways you use technology to teach online courses?

Teaching online takes more creativity and effort than traditional courses. We have a wealth of resources available to us that allow us to teach very effectively. These resources include video lectures, synchronous video and audio rooms (currently WebEx), individualized e-mails and video feedback and updates, not to mention innumerable activities, assignments and projects that demand students apply content. Good online teaching takes advantage of all the resources that fit best with one's teaching philosophy.

In the time that you have been working at IPFW, how have the classes evolved?

There is more demand for online classes and the technology available grants us more flexibility to teach effectively in innovative and engaging ways. You see more students collaborating with each other, more interactive communication with the instructor, more engaging assignments and projects and simply more ways to access more kinds of materials.

Face-to-face classes have changed in similar ways.  We see more classes with service learning, more project-based assignments and more team assignments. Classes in the Department of Communication as a whole have changed to better fit the fluctuating needs of the communities and students we serve, providing more application of concepts and more involvement in the community.

Writer: Emily Sigg, esigg@purdue.edu 

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