September 13, 2023

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Meet Dr. Colette Drouillard, 2023 VSU Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching Honoree

Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, recently honored Dr. Colette Drouillard with the 2023 Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching.

VALDOSTA — Dr. Richard A. Carvajal, president of Valdosta State University, recently honored Dr. Colette Drouillard with the 2023 Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching.

The Presidential Excellence Award for Online Teaching recognizes a faculty member who demonstrates a strong commitment to quality online teaching and learning, employs innovative online teaching practices, and develops rapport with individual learners in and beyond the virtual classroom.

Drouillard joined the faculty of VSU’s James L. and Dorothy H. Dewar College of Education and Human Services in 2010 and currently serves as an associate professor in the Department of Library and Information Studies.

VSU: What are your favorite classes to teach and your favorite topics to research?

Drouillard: My favorite classes to teach are those focused on youth services in public libraries — literature for children, literature for young adults, multicultural literature. But I’ve also had amazing experiences with courses focused on electronic resources for youth where my students have focused on development of programs in coding and computation thinking for children in their libraries as well as designing those programs in ways that best enable them to obtain grants to support the programs. Most recently, I’ve added a course on genre fiction for adult readers that focuses on development of readers’ advisory skills. I’m looking forward to using some of the elements from this course in my youth literature courses.

VSU: What strategies / tools / techniques have proven most effective in increasing student learning in your online classroom?

Drouillard: Creatively motivating interaction and discussions are essential. This summer’s adult genre fiction course was greatly enhanced through the students taking turns leading the discussion in a book club style — simulating something they would do with adult reading groups in their libraries — as well as collaborating with several of our Odum librarians to develop a genre fiction display as well as the content for the related website. The results this summer were wonderful!

VSU: When it comes to developing a meaningful rapport with your online students, how do you ensure that your students feel actively engaged in and satisfied with their online learning experience?

Drouillard: I do my best to maintain an open and friendly relationship. It can be a challenge since in most cases we never meet our students face to face until they arrive for graduation. One of the things that I try to make clear is that I’m aware that each of them knows more than I do about something that we will be doing in every class and being very clear that I’m open to them sharing their experiences or making suggestions for ways that we can improve either the content or the activities/assignments in any of the courses that I instruct. Almost all the successful aspects of my courses have evolved as a result of input from prior students — either their recommendations or their input on one of my crazy ideas that helped develop it into something even better than I’d initially envisioned.

VSU: What advice do you have for other faculty who wish to identify more effective ways to stimulate engagement and comprehension in their own online classroom?

Drouillard: Listen to what your students are saying or asking about. With an asynchronous course, we don’t have the same facial cues that are so essential in face-to-face courses, cues that allow us to see that what we’re presenting makes sense or doesn’t make sense. It’s up to us to try to tease out signs based on what our students are, or aren’t, saying in the discussions or including in their assignments, and then trying to adapt what we’re doing to better meet their needs or interests.

On the Web: