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Joanna C. Dunlap

Faculty Fellow for Teaching & Associate Professor

My story:

When I was getting my MBA, Professor Brown came to class every day in the same frayed-at-the-elbow corduroy jacket and messy hair. He'd rush in, always late, and immediately start his lecture...without even looking at us.

His lectures were monotone. He used hand-drawn and hand-smeared transparencies to reinforce important points...points that never seemed important.

When we arrived one Thursday, the classroom was the same, except there was a phone, a lamp, and a nameplate on the desk at the front of the room. At 9am sharp, a man entered. Pin-stripped suit, red silk tie, and wing tips. I couldn't believe it was Professor Brown.

He looked directly at us and said, "Good morning. I'm glad you got set up in the conference room. As you know from my memo, I've got a mess on my hands and need your help. Look at these files, and brainstorm next steps. If you have any questions just page me."

Then, Professor Brown left the room.

We looked at each other and didn't know what to do. Finally, we grabbed the files he'd left, and moved our desks closer together to start figuring it out. We kept an eye on the door waiting for him to come back. He didn't.

From that point on, each time we came to class, we found different files left for us, or a memo from the "CEO" informing us to expect a phone call from the personnel manager or assembly line supervisor, or that we had a meeting in 15 minutes with the evasive operations manager, or that the board needed an update on our progress in an hour. And, sure enough, these individuals - all role-played by Professor Brown - would call or show up. Over six weeks, we collected the information we needed to complete our report and present our findings to the board.

Talk about on-the-job training... I was going to be a systems analyst before taking Professor Brown's course. That didn't happen. Instead I'm a professor. And hope that I am half the teacher Professor Brown was.

My students at University of Colorado Denver:

My students are very wise. They embrace learning opportunities, and engage with a level of stamina and intensity that never ceases to amaze me. They seek to be the best possible educators and leaders they can be, and I am honored to participate in their journey.

Courses I currently teach at the University of Colorado Denver School of Education & Human Development:

  • Instructional Message Design - IT 5130
  • Designing and Teaching in eLearning Environments - IT 5660
  • Developing eLearning Instruction - IT 5670

My research interests:

  • The use of sociocultural approaches to enhance adult learners' development and experience in post-secondary settings.
  • Effective teaching strategies for online education.

I share many of my ideas about teaching and learning on my blog, titled Thoughts on Teaching (

My hobbies:

Anything and everything as long as it is with my daughters and husband, playing guitar, writing, biking, yoga, travel, and talking about going camping.

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