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New England College of Business Faculty Profile: Debra Leahy

Debra Leahy

Debra Leahy, adjunct faculty member and former Provost at New England College of Business, has been a longtime advocate for access to education for all students. Leahy was an adult learner her whole life, attending college in the evenings after working a professional role all day. She quickly realized the potential of online education to reach learners who are juggling multiple adult priorities. However, having served in multiple academic roles, including faculty member of literature and social science, Leahy is also keenly aware that access to education must be equally matched with quality in order for online education to reach its full potential.

In this post, Leahy explains her most meaningful tips for achieving success in online learning and how she incorporates them into her daily work at New England College of Business.

Embrace holistic learning.

“While formal education and credentials are vital in today's competitive business landscape, I believe that true success comes to those who dedicate themselves to a well-rounded pursuit of knowledge and self-betterment,” Leahy says.

Learning comes in all forms. Continually ask yourself reflective questions. How are you pushing past what you think is possible in your professional and educational spheres? How do you go above and beyond and become the agent of your own success? In an online learning environment, resources are drawn from myriad directions and fused together to create a learning trajectory. This framework allows the adult, professional learner to curate their own knowledge in a targeted way or as broadly as they may wish.

Immerse yourself in a rich community of inquiry.

Immerse yourself in the world in which you work and learn, and fuse those worlds together so that they build off of, and reinforce, each other. Engage deeply in the books, media, blogs and scholarship of your industry and related fields. Volunteer for associations. Surround yourself with the people who are experts in your field and beyond, and build your own brand that portrays who you are professionally and personally.

“I take immersion to heart,” Leahy says. “...I immerse myself in the online teaching and learning space, and, while students certainly learn from me, I am also positioned to learn from our rich, online academic community of inquiry.”

Keep outcomes in mind.

Why do we continue our education? For most of us, it's to enhance and expand our professional knowledge, to perform better at our jobs, advance in our careers and provide a better life for ourselves and our families.

“New England College of Business is an outcome-based institution,” explains Leahy. “Every day we strive to reassure our students that their pursuit of academic work pays off.”

Through constant measurement of the ways in which knowledge that is acquired in the classroom impacts the work performance of our students and graduates, New England College of Business is best able to design and deliver curriculum to fit the distinct needs of our highly focused, adult professional students.

“From this online, outcome-based curriculum, professional, adult learners are better able to plan for and direct their own professional-academic learning trajectory.”

Ask for and provide feedback.

We can further our growth by seeking meaningful feedback. The interactive online classroom opens ways for multiple forms of feedback that underscore and advance student learning. “Beyond the classroom, at New England College of Business, we are constantly surveying our hard-working students and asking: ‘What's working? What can we do better?”

By doing so, New England College of Business is bringing industry and education together and continually contributing to a 21st century, educated workforce, one student at a time.

What tips do you have to help others in the New England College of Business community succeed in the classroom and in their careers? Follow New England College of Business on Facebook, network with us on LinkedIn or join the conversation on Twitter!

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