Learning should never be a passive exercise, and it should never be confined to the traditional classroom. Effective learning should continue on in the workplace, especially where information technology (IT) is involved. According to Judy Paternite, Ph.D., associate professor of information technology at Kent State University, “Active learning is key to retaining and using information, so learning by doing is very important. It’s my approach for all computer courses I teach, regardless of the audience.”
This approach applies to teaching adults in various business environments as well. Dr. Paternite conducts corporate training classes on all levels of Microsoft Office Suite. In workforce development and IT course development, she has built a program of courses in which adults participate. On the college credit side, she engages students in service learning projects for organizations in the area. Students work on websites and databases for these companies.
While Dr. Paternite has been a professor at Kent State University Geauga for over 20 years, she sees every class as a fresh experience. This is because the developments and demands of IT are constantly changing, and educational goals must accommodate emerging workplace requirements. As such, each year the IT faculty from all of the Kent State regional campuses work together to update courses or create new courses to ensure students are being taught what is needed to enter the working world. “It’s nice to know we don’t let our courses get stale and old,” she said.
"Active learning is key to retaining and using information, so learning by doing is very important. It’s my approach for all computer courses I teach, regardless of the audience," Dr. Paternite says.
This change of pace keeps Dr. Paternite on her toes. “There is so much to learn in IT, and it is constantly changing. I enjoy teaching new classes on updated software to make sure I’m learning and working with newer technology. By teaching these classes (and keeping up with the changes), I get to see how IT and its improvements make our lives easier and better by increasing our ability to gather information quickly, contact others instantaneously, and automate tasks.”
Dr. Paternite received a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Arcadia University, a Master of Arts degree in special education, and Master of Technology from Kent State University. She also holds a Doctorate in instructional technology from Kent State University. Crediting her diverse set of interests, experiences, and skills for her multi-faceted approach to education and practical lifelong learning, Dr. Paternite said, “At the beginning of my career, I taught learning disabled students from 7-12 grade. Through that I realized that each person learns differently. I try to ensure that students can get information through multiple channels: reading, listening, and doing.”
While studying IT may be focused on computers, the atmosphere at Kent State Geauga is focused on the individual. Dr. Paternite calls it “my home away from home” where the small faculty-to-student ratio encourages faculty members to know their students, showing them that they are available and willing to help them succeed. “Working together with staff and other faculty has created a wonderful environment for students here,” Dr. Paternite said. “When we work together for the greater good, we are all happier.”