Educator Snapshot: Judith Dierkes

On occasion, we like to invite our students, academic consultants, and staff to share a bit more about themselves. Today we present the first ‘Professor Profile’ in our new series, from Judith Dierkes. Please enjoy, and look to this space on Thursdays to meet more people!


Judith Dierkes

Hello Judith, thank you for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! To start off, what sort of work do you do for the Saylor Foundation?

Peer Review Compilation, Re-work a course, Reviewing others reviews.

What keeps you busy outside of Saylor?

I am a studio artist and teach online courses for 3 colleges as an adjunct professor. I’m learning to snow ski. I bike, hike, and do yoga.

What led you to the online teaching and now to ‘open education’?

As an adjunct at a few colleges in Memphis, the amount of work I had varied each semester. One college did away with adjuncts and I quickly learned how to teach online. Eventually, I designed an online course. When I was contacted by Saylor I realized that I’d heard a few radio programs about open education. I was very interested in expanding my contribution to education in this manner.

So how has your work with Saylor changed your professional practice or added to your repertoire — or vice versa?

I’ve learned about new tools for online education by reviewing a few of Saylor’s courses. I also learn more than I can handle on the webchats.*

Which can be exhausting! What advice would you give to other teachers interested in getting into this open ed game?

Try it. You’ll like it.

What do you truly enjoy about your work?

Making art is essential to my being. I have to do it whether or not I make a living by doing it. Teaching allows me to keep my personal art pure and edgy. I play when I’m making art; it isn’t work.

We subscribe to the ‘life is a playground’ philosophy, so we sympathize. Any thoughts on lifelong learning and the opportunities of the Internet?

I appreciate the online format because the responsibility is on the student. Self-motivation is the very best thing we can teach. I know I will be a lifelong learner. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are here to learn. When you stop learning you stop living.

In that vein, what advice do you have for people just entering adulthood? For older learners?

Do what you love and you’ll never feel like you are at work. The key to feeling young is to be a lifelong learner.

Thank you, Judith, for helping us to pioneer this new series of profiles, and especially for your thoughts!

*[Editor: Some of our staff at The Saylor Foundation hold regular webchats with our academic consultants. The topics range from basic “housekeeping” to pie-in-the-sky ideas to extended philosophy sessions…exhilarating, exhausting, and enlightening, at their best.]

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