Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Susan Elwood

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Susan Elwood

It's a Small World After All

Dr. Susan Elwood’s students are bringing people together from around the world through project-based learning designs. These “Legacy Learning” interactions are benefiting local educators and participants as far away as Japan and Africa.

Elwood’s graduate students have devised the project-based learning designs that bring together a local school or business with a counterpart in another country for service projects that would use one or more readily available Web 2.0 applications. These designs enrich K-16 education or industry and/ or organizational instructional designs, giving students practical experience in their future professional field.  Service projects range from bookmarks distributed to an elderly care facility to deeper hurricane and flood water understanding with public service announcements.

“Research indicates we should be involved with meaningful global partnerships that need instructional design intervention,” said Elwood, associate professor of Educational Technology. “I challenge students to find someone on the other side of the world and do something service-based.”

Elwood encourages students to integrate current Web-based tools and mobile technologies into emerging hybrid and online instructional strategies.  The transformation of conversations from email to Skype allows students to discuss their projects face-to-face and develop personal as well as academic relationships.

“The field is constantly evolving, so we have to stay on top of new technology,” she said. “We’re entering an era where anyone can communicate via video from anywhere in the world.” 

Elwood says these interactions help break down stereotypes by demonstrating cultural similarities and celebrating differences. Before joining the Island University in 2002, she planned a multicultural event for the Nicollet, Minn., Public School District with representatives from 35 countries.

Elwood has experienced other cultures firsthand teaching multimedia as an instructor at the American School Foundation of Monterrey, Mexico. She encourages her students to investigate opportunities offered through the foundation.

“The main benefit of living in another country, especially a third-world country, is that you gain an appreciation for cultures, values, and a deeper appreciation for the United States,” she said.


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