Stress Management Course for Counselors Takes Advantage of Online Format
Posted on Feb, 27 2012
After teaching “Advanced Stress Management” in the traditional classroom in the past, professor Robert Nielsen wanted to make this popular course available online so counselors and other interested students all over could benefit from the material. So, during spring semester of 2011, that is just what Nielsen did. He and 11 dedicated students turned to technology to discuss stress topics in a way that led to in-depth and meaningful discussion, lectures, and convenient ways of learning Nielsen had never experienced before. Nielsen said that teaching online presented many benefits that other instructors can take advantage of and many benefits that students found helpful that made the class even more valuable. Nielsen plans to offer this course as a two credit, EDUC 600 class for professional development under the title "Stress Management for Professional Helpers" during the summer 2012 semester.
Counselors experience the emotional burden of others, so learn how to balance this through the Stress Management for Professional Helpers class.
Nielsen chose to set the Advanced Stress Management course up by “holding” weekly classes. To do this, Nielsen recorded weekly lectures using Wimba Classroom archives through Blackboard and made them available to the students to access any time they wanted during the week. Each week they covered a new stress topic, such as: the dynamics of stress, sources and symptoms of stress, and stress management techniques. Students then watched the lecture and discussed the topic on a discussion board by posting original thoughts and responding to classmates’ posts. Nielsen found this advantageous and convenient because he could post the lecture at the beginning of the week and then be free to do other things such as traveling to attend professional conferences. He could also archive lectures, review posts on the discussion board, and post additional information from virtually anywhere. Sam VanWechel, a counseling graduate student, said that she had a good experience with the course and the technology was easy to use and understand. “I am not very tech savvy and had only taken one online class prior to this one, but did not encounter any problems.”
Students in the course provided feedback that the course content felt like it was personalized to each of them and the flexibility of being online was convenient and offered an environment for thoughtful depth of discussion. Nielsen also said the discussion board posts were not only in-depth but also very self-revealing. “The advantage of viewing the Wimba lecture and responding on the discussion board when it was convenient really gave the students time to think and dwell more deeply on the topics. A lot was learned about managing stress and also about themselves and each other. They were far more perceptive and responsive when communicating from their own surroundings in regard to the topic and what that topic meant to them and to their professional pursuit.” Along with the added depth of discussion of course content, students also enjoyed the freedom to complete the courses whenever they had time during each week. VanWechel also said, “I really liked that I was able to sit at home in my pajamas and view the class recordings in my own time, which was usually about midnight. It was also nice that I could stop the recorded class lecture and do other things and come back to it, like to throw a load of laundry into the washer. I highly recommend online classes and would definitely take another online class through NDSU in the future.”
This is just another example of how online courses can bring student engagement to a whole new level, even when the students may never meet in person!