Darren Franklin, MS has served as an online instructor of business courses at Champlain College Online since 2019. He currently teaches principles of business and managing behavior in organizations.
What brought you to Champlain?
I was a Champlain College Online (CCO) student myself years ago. As a single father raising teenagers while working full-time, I decided to finish what I'd started years ago and ended up earning my master’s degree in executive leadership from CCO. After completing my master’s program, I wanted to give back to a school that had given so much to me. Having lived the story of juggling work, family, and school commitments firsthand, I believed I uniquely understood the demands of being a professional with kids and a degree to complete. I felt like my personal experiences could help a lot of the students who come to CCO, so I applied to become an online instructor and was welcomed to the team in the spring of 2019.
What are some of the things you like most about working at Champlain?
As a former CCO student and now an instructor, I am a huge fan of Champlain’s online learning platform, Canvas. The platform is intuitive for students in that it gives students a natural place to virtually connect and collaborate. The back-end of the system is also really intuitive for instructors and faculty to navigate uploading coursework and instructions. Canvas makes asynchronous learning very convenient and I believe it’s one of our strongest assets in delivering online education successfully.
Tell us a little bit about your professional background in business.
For about 30 years I have worked as a civil servant in a variety of positions. One of the most salient roles I held was Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness. As COO, I led the agency through constructing its strategic plan that addressed the policy aspects of preventing and ending homelessness across the United States. Today, I work as Chief of Operations at Peace Corps, a job that involves overseeing the recruitment and placement of qualified volunteers from across the United States in roles all over the world - wherever Peace Corps serves - and in specialized positions like education, economic development, and youth work in regions such as Africa, Asia, Europe, South America, and the Caribbean. It’s very rewarding work that I am extremely passionate about!
What do you think makes Champlain’s online business programs valuable to students?
All of our business courses are connected to the real world and have genuine relevance to what’s happening in the industry. Most of our students are working adults, so as an instructor I take pride in helping my students apply their course content to what they’re seeing in their work and experiencing in their lives as they move throughout the world. Making those connections are key for students to see how what they're learning plays out in real-life scenarios. Students also learn skills and insights that are particularly helpful for them as they aim to understand the business world, and, for instance, as they watch the news, which constantly highlights business sector shifts, its evolution over time, and the effects of that on their lives.
What do you think makes a good online instructor?
Instructing students in a virtual, asynchronous format means I don’t have face-to-face interactions with my students. Therefore, I do my best to draw folks in by making the course content relevant to them individually to encourage engagement. A good online instructor knows discussion forums are the secret sauce of online classes. A good deal of my time is spent extending the conversations in the discussion forums to further engage students and make their virtual interactions successful. If I notice a student being unresponsive, I will then reach out to them directly to make a personal connection and see if I can reengage them with the class. At the end of the day, most of my students are working professionals with many priorities. Good instructors know that priorities shift at times and we need to work with our students to help them reprioritize things so they can reach their academic goals. Ultimately, I am here to support the academic success of my students.
Who do you see as being a good fit for our business programs?
I believe busy working adults who are mature and self-identify as education consumers make for the best business students. These folks come into the program willing to prioritize everything on their plates so that none of their commitments get deprioritized. I also think adult learners must be prepared to adapt to asynchronous learning in order to be successful at Champlain. They need to be self-motivated to complete the coursework each week on their own.
What’s something you’d like students to know about you that they might not know otherwise?
In my free time, I make music – I am a vocalist! I like to joke that I have the right brain and the left brain thing going on. Outside of education and work, I fully believe folks need outlets to feed their souls and overall well-being. Music is one of those outlets for me. I'm also currently on track to complete my doctorate in business administration from Georgia State University - so while I'm teaching, I'm also a student.
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