CSM’s Tom Gorecki Named as Distance Educator of the Year

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College of Southern Maryland Professor Tom Gorecki has been named the Distance Educator of the Year by the Maryland Distance Learning Association (MDLA).

A CSM professor for 23 years, Gorecki has been a longtime advocate for providing distance learning options to his students, including telecourses, self-paced courses, telewebs, web-hybrids and web-based courses, and was one of the first professors to launch a web course at CSM. His Information Technology Systems (ITS) 1015 The Information Age: Emerging Technologies course was selected as MDLA's 2005 Course of the Year.

In addition to ITS 1015, Gorecki teaches ITS 2600 – Advanced Web Authoring, ITS 2930 – Web Project Based Learning Applications, ITS 2640 – Basic Web Server Setup and Security, and ITS 2650 – Web Design and Visual Communication. While each class has its own merits, Gorecki enjoys ITS 1015 the most because, “the spectrum of ages and skill levels you get in 1015 is very different than what you get when you are teaching 2650, for example. In ITS 1015, I see a lot of women, particularly mothers and career changers, who are taking the class because they want to be able to use and knowledgeably communicate with their co-workers, spouse, kids and even grandkids about technology,” said Gorecki.

“The other thing I really like about 1015 is that the content has to be rebuilt every year. So if you take 1015 this year and next year, you're really going to be taking two different classes because the technology we are seeing is changing rapidly,” he said.

Gorecki serves on CSM's Web-Liaison Group, consults for OnlineEducators.org, reviews online programs of instruction for Quality Matters: Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning, and presents regularly at national conferences. Gorecki has two master's degrees, one in computer education and design and another in secondary education. He is working towards his Ph.D. in education technology management from Northcentral University. He is the recipient of several CSM awards including a faculty excellence award in 1994.

Gorecki was nominated for the MDLA award by Ronda Jacobs who is a CSM laboratory coordinator, adjunct instructor and one of his students. Jacobs wrote in her nomination that Gorecki's online classes were “run like a well-choreographed script… [questions were encouraged and] feedback was positive and showed a genuine concern for student learning. [He made it clear] that he could be reached online, by phone or in person. He lived up to it.”

Gorecki says it's difficult to imagine teaching regularly in a traditional classroom now. “The design of online classes encourages more faculty/student and student/student contact than a traditional classroom. It allows for more relationships to develop and you see a higher level of participation in the class. Students feel freer to ask more questions and they have the time to develop their questions and provide in-depth, pertinent responses to their fellow students,” said Gorecki. He foresees that as technology continues to improve, and more people are more comfortable using computers for applications beyond email, more and more classes will be available online.

According to the MDLA, the Distance Educator of the Year contributes to the advancement of distance learning practices through the careful application of teaching philosophies, a commitment to understanding the varying methods with which students learn and applying different techniques to reach all students, applying proactive teaching methods and inspiring others in their pursuit or application of distance learning.

The Maryland Distance Learning Association promotes and advocates the coordination and use of distance learning programs and activities in Maryland and throughout the region. The MDLA presented its 2007 awards at their spring conference.

CSM provides 19 degree and certificate programs online. For information on CSM's distance learning programs, contact 301- 934-2251, 301-934-7596 or http://www.csmd.edu/DistanceLearning.