Crown Professor Wins Award For Diversity and Innovation in Online Course

Crown Professor Wins Award For Diversity and Innovation in Online Course

By Alyssa Kranz

What if you took a class, then found out it had won an award for the Course of the Year?

That’s exactly what happened when students took an online course called The Human Mosaic taught by Dr. Darin Mather, Assistant Professor for Global Studies at Crown College.

Access, a national association of Christian distance education professionals, awarded Dr. Mather the Course of the Year in early 2018.

In The Human Mosaic, students learn about the increasing diversity in our world and the key implications of multiculturalism. They also develop perspectives and practical skills to help them navigate diverse relationships.

Students are required to take The Human Mosaic for the Global and Cultural Studies (B.S.) major, and the Criminal Justice (B.A.) major at Crown College.

Dr. Mather teaches students how to evaluate relationships between diverse groups at an interpersonal, institutional, and societal level. In this course, students also learn what it means to combat injustice, discrimination, and the abuse of power and privilege. Dr. Mather places an emphasis on Christian reconciliation and how to properly empathize with diverse groups and articulate a peacemaking response.

“The Human Mosaic was one of the best classes for my Global and Cultural Studies major,” says John Pavlica, who completed the course. “As one who loves diversity and desires to serve in a multicultural setting, the course helped me not only learn to identify the issues that still exist today across racial and cultural lines, but also helped me to identify my desire to be a voice of hope.”

Dr. Mather said: “Online courses like The Human Mosaic make quality classes accessible to all students. They are more convenient because students can do their coursework at any time that works well for their busy schedules.”

Access judges evaluate the Course of the Year Award based on the design of the course, the media and materials used throughout, and the ability for the students to learn and get assistance when needed. Access offers awards for outstanding courses developed over the past year by the institutions that are members of the association.

“It was very gratifying to win this award,” says Dr. Mather. “It was a team effort by all in the School of Online Studies to create this class, and it is validation that Crown provides high-quality courses to our online students.”

“The assigned projects helped personalize the material and provided us with the opportunity to address our own conscious and unconscious biases and prejudices,” says Sara Breedlove, another student who took the course. “These projects allowed students like me to evaluate our upbringing and analyze how that upbringing has influenced us both positively and negatively.”

Dr. Mather starts each class with an online devotional which highlights the Christ-centered value of Crown, and it always relates to the week’s scheduled coursework. This helps the students to see how their Christian worldview relates to the subject Dr. Mather teaches that week. Interactive online activities, discussions, quizzes and papers help students understand key principles of diversity.

“Dr. Mather was engaged throughout the course and always provided useful feedback,” says Breedlove. “For me, it was clear this course was personal for him and not just a random course he taught. I enjoyed this course immensely and would recommend it to all people, not only Social Science majors.”

“Students in our online courses don’t get the opportunity to hide in the back of the classroom. They are engaged and always participate in discussions. The courses are highly interactive, which challenges our students to do their best work,” says Dr. Mather.

President of Crown College Dr. Joel Wiggins says: “Dr. Mather is very deserving of this award and it shows that his peers recognize his creativity and the quality of his work. Crown is so blessed to have someone of Dr. Mather’s caliber providing leadership in our online and graduate studies programs.”

One criteria for winning the award is evidence of students and professors interacting with each other at a high level even though it is an online course. The Human Mosaic has a variety of media and methods to tailor to each of the different learning styles such as videos, quizzes, books, papers, and discussion posts. Secondly, the course of the year must provide a clear layout that is easy to navigate with all necessary information accessible. Lastly, the objectives should be clear, measurable, and easily understood.

Dr. Mather says: “Students benefit from this course because they move through the material at a good pace, while completing activities tailored to their learning styles. It is interactive enough to keep students engaged and able to apply the course materials, both at an individual and societal level.”

Breedlove’s final words on the course perfectly describe why Dr. Mather’s course deserved to win Course of the Year: “Jesus loved, and consequently died for all people. Taking this course and learning about various people and people groups has helped me to develop and love both people and Jesus more!”

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