Featured Online Faculty Profile
Adrian Pivetta, MS
Professor - Professor, Online
Teaching Field: Information Technology
Where I come from
The process of getting my master's degree in Information Technology opened my eyes to the value of online education. I started the coursework for my master's on campus, and then halfway through, my professional schedule no longer fit the course schedule. Without the option of finishing online, my master's degree would simply have had to wait until later in life.
In college I majored in administration and business. In the 25 years since, I have worked in both fields: as an adult education administrator and as the owner of a small business. I started a company providing high-tech services to clients and ran it for over ten years.
After I sold my business, I began teaching Computer Science courses full time. I am very honored to have received faculty awards from both DeVry University and the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. The recognition is a wonderful compliment. I still take occasional consulting assignments to keep my hand in and see how technology is developing. I trouble-shoot my students' computers, too.
Time to balance
For online students, time management is very critical to success. It is challenging to find the time and energy to take care of your responsibilities and take care of yourself, too. You can't neglect yourself. Your physical and emotional state has a great deal to do with your ability to learn. As far as possible, keep a reasonable life balance. It's probably not a good idea to volunteer to coach Little League on top of work, school, and taking care of the kids. Self discipline, good study habits, and reasonable keyboarding skills are also needed.
DeVry University students are working adults, and my perspective as an educator is to treat them as such. Many of them are IT professionals working in the field and come into the technical courses I teach with a great deal of expertise, real-world experiences, and life experiences. Their contributions to the class are considerable. If they tell me that they are traveling or under a great deal of pressure at work, I do whatever I can to make the course a reasonable experience for them. Generally, if I receive an assignment from a student that is not exactly what was requested, but that shows understanding of the fundamental concept, I am inclined to accept that work.
Lowering the stress level
All my best teachers had one thing in common: they knew how to make the class feel comfortable. You can't learn well when you are all tensed up; stress blocks the pathways to the brain. For example, programming was very foreign to me and my stress levels were high. My teachers kept things calm and inspired the students to have confidence in themselves. I always appreciated that.
Ego is very high in the IT world. If it could be surgically removed, it would be great, but everybody has it. You can't criticize the students with more experience for displaying what they know, because it contributes so much. You have to reassure the ones with less experience and show them the way. I tell students, "Don't be intimidated if some of the people in this class know more that you do. Learn what you can from their posts, and remember, you are only responsible for knowing what's in the syllabus. Don't try to do too much; read and keep up with the assignments and you will do fine."
A superior platform
A teaching colleague was involved with DeVry University Online and had wonderful things to say about DeVry University's eCollege platform. That's what interested me in DeVry University initially. eCollege is far superior to another platform I've used. Students find it very easy to use, and so do I. My ability to synchronize posted work and grading, for example, saves a tremendous amount of time. That translates directly into gains for the students because I have more energy and time for them.
All accredited schools have similar curriculum requirements to cover, so the main difference between online and onsite courses has to do with the style of delivery.
In an onsite class, you can tell from the student's tone of voice or expressions what's on his mind. You don't have those cues online. But you do see the work they submit. Within week one of an eight-week class, an experienced teacher knows what the individual students need. Students deserve a 24-hour turnaround on their questions and posts to keep from falling behind and to stay involved. I log in daily.
Real-world career preparation
There is always a big difference between academics and the real world. You can pick up the foundational concepts in IT from reading, but on the job, you have to apply them in fast-paced settings where many other things are going on. I encourage students to answer from experience rather than from the textbook so that other students learn about conditions and situations on the job, and how to handle them. It makes it a lot more fun for everybody involved, as well.
Technical courses at DeVry University include lab simulations. For example, take the case of installing an operating system. Students may not have an extra computer at home to practice on, so they can log onto the DeVry University server and go through the simulated experience of installing the operating system. Every week they do exercises that parallel what's covered in the reading and discussions. They get a taste of the real world through these simulations.
DeVry University has a wonderful reputation. Widespread industry recognition of the value of a DeVry University degree helps students to market themselves upon graduation. With the resources DeVry University provides online, students have as good a set of tools as anyone to create the career to which they aspire. In addition, they know more about the real world than most. Lab simulations, for example, make DeVry University stand out compared to many schools.
I would not be where I am today if not for online education. I never forget that when I am helping my students advance themselves.