Meet Cathy Locks - eCore Instructor and Self Professed Nerd with a "Soft Touch for her Students."

Cathy at 4 years old,
when her love of history began.

Catherine Locks is a history instructor and instructional technologist/designer from Richmond, Virginia. She teaches history at Fort Valley State University. Her areas of interest include pre-history, ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt and Rome, medieval English history, and colonial American history, particularly of the mid-Atlantic region.

Why did you choose your field?
I’ve always been fascinated with history ever since getting into my Mom’s encyclopedias back when I was about 4 years old.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A veterinarian. But when I was in high school I suddenly became very squeamish, so that career was out.

Why did you choose teaching?
I fell into it through eCore. I have been involved in an indirect way with eCore since the late 1990’s when I was a grad assistant to one of the designers of the original history courses. Then I worked in an office at Georgia College that supported Blackboard, which led to a desire to teach. I wanted to experience what our faculty and students were seeing online. The experience was wonderful and I’ve been teaching online and face-to-face ever since.

What is the secret to a happy life?
Being able to let go of things.

Who’s had the greatest influence on your life and why?
My family. Nothing can teach humility as much as caring for elderly family, or teach patience as much as caring for children.

How would you describe yourself?
A nerd, a geek, a soft touch for my students – one just came and took a Pepsi…

If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be and why?
Today it would be Putin, I would love to talk to him and hear his views on the Ukraine. Most days its Pope Benedict XVI, I would like to have a theology lesson from him.

What’s a secret ambition of yours?
To be a gourmet cook and to create a new way to teach history.

Who in your life would you like to thank and for what?
My parents for never trying to force me into a particular field.

What do you think is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your life?
Patience – I need more patience, and am patiently waiting for it.

How would you like to be remembered?
As someone who cared.

What is one thing that you absolutely could not live without?
Books of course! No seriously, I can live without most things, but I would be miserable without family and pets and always having a question to answer.

How would you describe yourself as a child?
Curious. I was always taking things apart to see how they worked and putting them back together again, and reading and observing – and I was also terribly shy!

Who is your hero and why?
Oh I have too many – really anyone who sticks to their convictions and helps others is a hero to me. I admire our men and women in the Armed Forces, law enforcement, emergency services – they put their lives on the line for us, what’s not to admire?

Cathy Locks describes herself as
"a nerd, a geek, a soft touch for my students."
What differences have you noticed between online education and face-to-face classes?
In a face-to-face class, I can see my students and tell when they are not really grasping the material and I can correct it on the spot. With online I have to wait until either the student tells me they are confused or until they demonstrate it in our discussions.

Online courses put a greater burden on the student to go over the material themselves. In face-to-face, the burden is on me to present the materials and engage the students. In both cases, I have to be able to explain the materials in a way that helps the students understand them, so in online courses I have to really read what the students post carefully. Some will say that they don’t understand something. Others have no idea they are confused and need help, and sometimes I have a student who is completely confused by the material, has no idea they are confused and then they attempt to correct the other students who have actually gotten it right! So for my online courses I check in every day, 7 days a week to try to catch problems as soon as possible.

How do you think education changes lives?
It opens minds to possibilities they have never imagined. In HIST1111 for example, we discuss Hinduism and Buddhism. For most of my students this is the first time they have ever looked at a religion outside of Christianity. Typically, they are amazed not only by what they learn, but by the realization of how much they did not know before – they are awakened to the need to know more about the world around them.

What do you still want to accomplish?
I want to write more. I want to create history resources that are accessible and understandable for everyone, for example, short youtube videos.


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