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Monday, December 10, 2007

Interview with Franklin King (Life in the E-Learning Organization Series)

This week's interview is with Franklin King, Associate Vice President for Distance Education at Jacksonville State University. His leadership has expanded educational opportunities for many individuals from diverse backgrounds and contexts. This interview is a part of Life in the E-Learning Organization, a series of interviews with e-learning and distance professionals.

What is your name, and what is your involvement with distance education and/or technology?

My name is Frank King. I am the Associate Vice President for Distance Education at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama . I am also a Professor of Instructional Media.

How did you get interested in distance education?

Our regional university serves a rural area in the northeast section of Alabama . Many of our students are employed and are non-traditional. Some are involved in shift work and require flexibility in their scheduling.

On a personal level, in the early 90s a mother contacted me about her son that had been paralyzed in an accident. She desperately wanted him to continue his education and to feel that he was still a part of a learning community. At that time, there were fewer options. Her desperate cry for help completely changed my attitude towards technology and the need to search for new answers.

Similar requests have come from parents of young men and women who have been incarcerated. I believe that no one should be denied the right to learn and to belong within an educational community based solely upon an unfortunate event or bad decision.

What is your favorite new trend in distance education?

A willingness to explore new options to reach students in which the best use of a variety of technologies is utilized. I remain confident that there is no one best way to reach all students.

What is your favorite technology?

My favorite technology, on a personal level, remains interactive video-conferencing. I feel that it is underutilized and is an excellent augmentation to existing internet based courses that can result in a well balanced hybrid.

What kinds of instructional materials do you use in elearning or distance education?

Like the State of Alabama with its pioneering Alabama Connecting Classrooms and Educators Statewide (ACCESS) initiative, we make use of both the Internet and IVC. We utilize Blackboard as our course management system.

Do you have a favorite social network (LiveJournal, MySpace, FaceBook, etc.)?

FaceBook Its popularity among students ensures its vibrancy.

How do you view them in e-learning?

While not having a personal site on one of the social networks, I see the merit and the benefit of such utilization. It certainly augments the use of e-mail, cell phone usage and other personal formats in a very convenient way allowing for general postings and the sharing of information. In many ways, it is a social eportfolio that can be used effectively, or it can serve as a future detriment to the student when unwisely used.

Do you have a favorite web application (Google Scholar? MapQuest? iGoogle?

I do use Google Scholar. For much work, however, Google is sufficient and the materials are more readily available.

What is your favorite quote? Or, what’s a book that caught your eye recently?

“A perfection of means, and confusion of aims, seems to be our main problem,” Albert Einstein

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