Interview with Author and Educator Betty Blackmon
"Guide to Effective Skills for Online Student Success" Betty Blackmon’s new book, is an invaluable resource for online students, especially for those who are concerned, overwhelmed, or worried about their academic success. Through self-directed peer support, this book will help students succeed in any online curriculum. Since the pandemic, now more than ever, learning how to traverse the often challenging arena of online learning is necessary in order to position oneself for success.
Author Betty Blackmon graduated from the University of Kansas with a Master's degree in Social Welfare and a Juris Doctorate in Law. As an Associate Professor, Betty teaches social work at UMKC. She works as a consultant to nonprofit organiztions providing technical assistance and training to the executive staff and the Board of Directors.
Her book on Creating A Successful Nonprofit Using Monitoring and Compliance Activities is currently being revised. Her publications also include numerous articles, including Social Work Students Using Technology to Promote Social Justice. Currently, she is promoting her new, timely book, which is the culmination of her years of experience working in education and with online students.
Tell us a bit about your background in academia.
I started teaching on the college level early in my career. I taught for seven years as an adjunct for the University of Kansas in the School of Social Welfare. One year at Central Missouri University in the school of social work, and finally taught full time for fifteen years at University of Missouri Kansas City and achieved tenure and promotion to Associate Professor. All of my teachings were in the school of Social work. The last 14 years were a combination of classroom and online.
Can you tell us about your journey to writing the book?
I am used to writing and initially, it was required to get published to achieve tenure and promotion. I learned what was required for academic writing and self-help material. My writing in the academic world focused on identifying problems experienced by students studying in the profession of social work. Implementing social work contracts is an example, because all students are expected to develop learning contracts every semester. Many did not have the necessary guidance to complete and use them.
Can you briefly describe the premise of your new book?
There are successful tips and strategies that allow online course participants to successfully learn in online courses, and do well in them. Tools to develop discussion boards to articulate in writing the concepts being learned in the course are provided as well as guides to write the successful paper. These tools answer the question “what do the professor want”, and gives students an early start in online classes.
As a teacher, why was it important for you to write this book now?
Most students who take online courses do so by choice. However, the pandemic forced all students into online courses and many were not standard online but were virtual emergency crisis training. As a result, many students dropped courses and lost thousands of dollars. I want to assist online participants to embrace an alternative method of learning. I think online courses expand the accessibility of college courses to students who find it necessary to work.
What was the writing process like?
Writing the book for online participants required me to write the material based on student needs and not what I would do for professors. I had to make sure it was not difficult but used material that was based on academic principles of online course development and course expectations. I included material that was important to provide necessary instructions to complete online tasks and strategies. For example, some people know the how and why when communicating with professors, I give suggestions that will enhance the learning in the course.
What is the number one thing you hope readers take away from the book?
Online classes are fun and just as good as classrooms are for learning. Remember the professor will work with you, and they do have to effectively work with you.
Do you have any other books in the works?
Several. I have one about managing racism and how to manage difficult people at work and home.