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Faculty & Staff Spotlights

Unleashing the power of online education

November 15, 2016

Carolyn Gentle-Genitty

Carolyn Gentle-Genitty is a key figure in IUPUI's efforts to enhance distance learning for current and future students.

Opportunity is knocking for IUPUI's digital-minded students, and Carolyn Gentle-Genitty is eager to do her part to help faculty and students make the most of enhancements to online education courses and programs.

Gentle-Genitty was appointed an Online Education Faculty Fellow this summer, making the School of Social Work associate professor also part of the Office of Academic Affairs.

She brings a wealth of know-how to her new role: She taught her first distance-education course in 1999, served as an expert consultant on the campus's online task force, and taught and developed online courses in the School of Social Work.

Gentle-Genitty will help IUPUI solidify its presence in distance education and assist faculty members in harnessing the power of online infrastructure and tools such as Canvas, Zoom and proctoring services to support student success.

Beyond faculty and their individual courses, she is tasked with convening the 17 IUPUI schools in conversations about expected growth in online courses, programs and degrees, in partnership with Indiana University Online and IUPUI's Degree Completion Office.

"My position is new, so we are uncertain of exactly what path must be taken," said Gentle-Genitty, a Belize native who earned a Ph.D. from IUPUI and is now the director of the Bachelor of Social Work program. "What we do know is that it is imperative that our campus be on the cutting edge of online education if we want to remain competitive."

Chancellor Nasser H. Paydar introduced Gentle-Genitty and the value of her new role during his State of the Campus address earlier this month. "We must increase our presence in this key area, expanding our capacity to provide programs that are fully online or blended, to give students the innovative teaching they need," he said.

For her new position, Gentle-Genitty has much to offer:

  • A knowledge of people.
  • An ability to translate the world of online technology for faculty members more familiar with traditional teaching methods.
  • A passion for blending the two worlds in unique and breathtaking ways.

"I believe I have those abilities," Gentle-Genitty said. "The field of social work is all about connecting with people. I have become knowledgeable about the power of technology, and I believe I can help faculty put the tools and infrastructure that IU has made available to good use. And I have more than enough experience to know the impact that technology offers to students in putting that information into action."

She's only a few months into her one-year renewable position, but the educator is already intrigued by the possibilities.

"This is like a new playground for me," Gentle-Genitty said. "I am excited to serve as a conduit or a convener to help our faculty and campus harness the amazing power of online education."

She believes that once faculty members see what kind of power they have at their fingertips, they'll embrace the many opportunities distance education provides. It's my job to help them navigate the resources available to see what they find most useful to help students succeed," she said. "And that's the part of my job I like the best."

Students, on the other hand, don't need any convincing of the value of online education. "Many of our students have grown up with technology," Gentle-Genitty said. "Nothing fazes them other than technology not used to its maximum. IUPUI is on the cutting edge of online education with numerous courses, programs and degrees that can be achieved partially or fully online."

Gentle-Genitty believes her research work on student engagement through school bonding, in conjunction with the new fellowship, fits well with IUPUI's strategic plan, helping transform online education and focus on student success. And because the velocity of change is so rapid in our digital age, she believes a key moment has arrived.

"The time to expand those options is now," she said. "We must be ready to respond to the next market of students who see brick-and-mortar education as a barrier to their time-sensitive success. From now on, students will make their choices of colleges and universities based on what resources a campus can provide them."

Infograph of IU online education

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