Catt Center Offers First Online Course

This summer the Carrie Chapman Catt Center for Women and Politics will offer its first ever online course in leadership.

Over the past two years, the center has increased the offering of its “Leadership Styles and Strategies in a Diverse Society” course (LAS 222) from one section once a year for 20 students to two sections each semester serving approximately 100 students in the fall and spring. The center will now offer LAS 222 as an online course this summer to serve additional students and to reach off-campus students.

The online leadership course is supported by a $9,000 grant received by Julie Snyder-Yuly, Catt Center assistant director, from Iowa State University’s Center for Distance and Online Learning. Snyder-Yuly and Clinton Stephens, postdoctoral teaching assistant, have worked during the fall and spring semesters to develop the online course and will co-teach it this summer. The online course will be offered again either during the fall 2012 or spring 2013 semester. Pending on its success, the center plans to continue to offer the online leadership course once or twice per year.

LAS 222 is one of the required courses for the certificate in Community Leadership and Public Service. As the course and certificate program continue to gain popularity, the center is working on ways to reach an even broader audience. Snyder-Yuly and Stephens have designed the course to enable students to learn from their own experiences, from classmates and from current events. “Because our traditional classroom utilizes a variety of interactive strategies, the challenge we faced was creating an interactive online learning environment,” Snyder-Yuly said.

“The opportunity to utilize multiple platforms to teach – such as Blackboard, Canvas and Google programs – helped us develop some innovative techniques to provide an interactive and engaging class,” Stephens said. The online course will include regular reflections by students on what they are learning and how they can apply it in their own contexts. It will include discussion boards where students contribute their own thoughts in a post before they are able to see classmates’ posts and further the discussion. Students also will participate in team activities via Google Hangouts. Current events will be a regular source of examples in the online course, where discussions can include links to news stories and other supporting evidence.

Students from the classroom-based leadership course would find the online curriculum familiar. For example, students will continue to explore their own selves through the Johari window personality awareness test, watch 12 Angry Men to study stages of group development, and participate in discussions of gender and race in the context of leadership. While the class format is new, the student learning objectives have remained the same.