Employee of the Month
"Margaret is one of the most helpful persons to work with at College of the Mainland. She is very knowledgeable in Blackboard. She provides immediate answers to questions in email and comes right over if needed. She always verifies that the problem has been solved and that the questions have been satisfactorily answered. Margaret is always very positive. She is outstanding in the way she communicates and works with people. She frequently finds free, online tools with which we can all work. Margaret’s expertise and training sessions have made it possible to offer online and hybrid courses at COM. Margaret inspires others with her positive attitude, her communication skills and her excellent technical capabilities."
Margaret Cussen assists faculty in designing and creating courses online. She ensures both internet (fully online) and hybrid (50 to 85 percent online) courses are equal in content and quality to face-to face courses.
“People don’t read online the same way they read a book. Research shows people scan web pages instead of reading word for word. It’s easier for people to read a web page if a medium sized, san-serif font is used,” said Margaret.
Margaret learned from her own experience – while a full-time high school teacher parenting a teenager, she started her master's in instructional design at UHCL. To avoid traffic, she took as many online courses as she could to complete her degree.
At COM, she taught both hybrid and internet courses as an adjunct. Teaching online is labor intensive, and this experience helped her to better assist faculty and suggest ways to streamline tasks.
“Since the college started putting courses online in the early 2000s, the number of courses offered increased from 60 to 144 (Spring 2017). Additionally, an Associate of Arts in general studies or criminal justice can be completed solely online,” said Margaret.
Recently, the college increased hybrid courses to accommodate dual credit students. Margaret also ensures COM’s hybrid and internet courses meet or exceed national standards and conform to best practices.
“Since technology continues to advance, our department researches and recommends technology and tools to be adopted to make courses more engaging,” said Margaret.
Distance education staff ensure all faculty have access to the technology and tools needed for teaching.
“Margaret is dedicated to student success! A well-designed course is one of the two most important characteristics to keep students from dropping a course. She is a talented instructional designer who goes above and beyond assisting faculty and students with their online classes,” said Janis Cutaia, director of educational technology.
Know someone who goes above and beyond? Nominate an outstanding employee at www.com.edu/hr.