“Advanced online learning, when carefully crafted, can offer a better experience for the student with better learning outcomes.”
Center for Student Engagement & Success, Marketing, Professional MBA, Undergraduate Programs - Faculty
As Distinguished Lecturer of Marketing and Director of the Haslam College of Business Office of Technology-Enhanced Education (TEE), Mark Collins’ knowledge is regularly in demand. During the past weeks as UT moved all classes online in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Collins has stepped forward, leading the Haslam College through the transition.
Collins’ work facilitating online courses and programs, like the online supply chain management graduate degree and the Haslam business minor, placed the Haslam College ahead of the curve in terms of response the online transition.
Launched by Collins in 2014, TEE has created several online courses across nine disciplines. These courses were created to meet the needs of students’ hectic schedules while maintaining academic integrity.
To accomplish this, Collins utilizes a full video studio (nicknamed “Vollywood”), a soundproof audio booth and new Lightboard technology. These tools enable his team to create interactive content for classes and produce Impact Videos, showcasing the college’s culture.
These technological resources, provided through private support, gave the Haslam College an advantage as coursework moved online.
Before the online transition was announced for the spring 2020 semester, Collins’ was ready with training and information for faculty, staff and students. Moving the entire population online was a massive undertaking, but Collins feels there are positive outcomes to be found.
“This move will help instructors and students increasingly acclimate to online classroom environments,” said Collins.
Collins feels online learning offers advantages beyond flexibility for students and instructors.
“Advanced online learning, when carefully crafted, can offer a better experience for the student with better learning outcomes,” said Collins. He points to the work done by Haslam College faculty Amelia Hart, Brian Stephens and Suzan Murphy as examples of faculty leading the way in online courses.
While he continues to meet the challenges of assisting the Haslam College community’s online move, he is already looking to the future of the college’s online learning.
“The next breakthrough for TEE will be augmented reality and virtual reality,” said Collins. “For example, imagine an opportunity where a student can actually walk around inside a supply chain model and look for bottlenecks or correct first-tier supplier performance and actually watch the pipeline metrics improve in real-time.”
Collins adds, with his trademark humor, “We’re also working on a holograph for Brian Stephens so that he can teach twice as many classes.”
No stranger to big transitions, Collins, a Chattanooga native, came to UT via Germany where he lived while his father worked as an executive for DuPont. He completed a bachelor’s degree in economics and worked in the hotel industry before returning to UT to teach. He has taught at UT for 62 consecutive semesters, including instructing his favorite course, Marketing 460, the marketing strategy capstone course for graduating seniors.
“The Marketing 460 students keep me on my toes intellectually,” said Collins. “I teach the course bright and early at 8:10 a.m. every semester just to give myself an advantage.”
His leadership in the Haslam College’s Department of Marketing led to his interest in educational technology.
“Educational technology was a significant component of my work for seven years as assistant department head for the former Department of Marketing, Logistics and Transportation,” said Collins. “When the opportunity came to create and direct TEE, it made for a good fit.”