Focus on Faculty: Daniel Wong
Author: Office of Academic Innovation
Posted: January 29, 2018



Sometimes the secret to a good course design is knowing who your student is. This can be especially true when you’re teaching graduate students online, says Professor Daniel Wong, the director of the Global Supply Chain Management program at PSU's School of Business. The rules are different: your class is one of many important things that your students are balancing in their lives. So how do you keep them engaged? How do you help them successfully learn and grow in a challenging program? These were the questions Wong and his fellow faculty in the GSCM program asked themselves a year ago as they prepared to revise their program for the first time since its launch. Spurred by their desire to upgrade the look and feel of their course, Professor Wong and his colleagues entered the multimedia labs at OAI looking to try something new.

“How do I bring that engagement and deep experience into the conversation, rather than lecturing to the students?”

Partnering with OAI through the Flexible Degrees Program, the twelve faculty of GSCM redesigned all of the program’s sixteen courses.  “From an engagement factor, from an excitement factor, I think we were really lacking before this update,” remarks Wong of the course prior to the refresh. The online Global Supply Chain Management masters was originally created in 2013, when online teaching was still fairly new to PSU faculty. “ I was pretty much just lecturing to them over the video camera. We were not having a conversation,” he adds. The transition to teaching online didn’t come easily to Wong at first either. Standing in front of a video camera alone in a recording room, he felt disconnected from the students he would be teaching. “I like standing in front of students in a classroom. You can alter your content, your delivery based on what you observe, right? So without that constant feedback, it was really difficult for me to tape the first video,” laughs Wong, ruefully. “I remember it took me five times to shoot the first one, to shoot the first 20 minutes. Five times! I remember I was breaking out in sweat, I froze, and there’s no student looking at me, and there’s no eye contact or body language, and I was completely lost.”

It took Wong and his colleagues many takes before they created the first version of the videos for the online GSCM program. Five years later, Wong has a different perspective on teaching online. He now describes it as an immersive experience that has him continuously interacting with his students. No longer limited to "classroom time," he speaks with them throughout the week, and each encounter is a valuable opportunity to teach. Starting the redesign process with OAI, he hoped to continue to enhance this connection to his students, and their engagment in his classes, by innovating a new design for the program.


Professor Daniel Wong looks over the D2L shell of his course with OAI Instructional Designer, Vince Schreck. Wong and his colleagues worked closely with a team at OAI as part of the Flexible Degrees Program to redesign their Global Supply Chain Management Program.


“Education is about delivering relevant and deep content. So when we approached redesigning the program I asked, ‘How do I bring that engagement and deep experience into the conversation, rather than lecturing to the students?’”  says Wong.  “Graduate students in our program are professionals. They have lives, they have to make money, they have to take care of their families, all while completing this you have to think about it from their perspective.” Graduate students in the GSCM are also living and working across the world, and may be traveling, sometimes constantly. Their office may change day to day - thus, the classroom built for them online needs to be a constant for them, a place that sustains engagement and collaboration, supports active inquiry and discussion, and perhaps most fundamental of all, ease of navigation.

Professor Wong interviews Dean Cliff Allen in one of his videos for GSCM 515, as part of his roundtable discussion technique.


Wong and his fellow faculty worked closely with OAI’s instructional designers to reorganize the courses’ D2L structure, creating a weekly format with discussion questions and readings that adapted well to their students’ busy schedules. They created a sense of continuity in the program by recording new videos with OAI’s media team, and introduced some new techniques, like recording a conversational, roundtable discussion instead of a lecture. In his GSCM 515 course “Global Case Studies in Supply Chain Management,” Wong invited four experts to sit down in front of a camera and be interviewed by him.  Their answers to his questions were cut into different videos streamed over the course of the term to provide diverse perspectives on each week’s course materials. This approach was inspired by Wong's own appreciation for Charlie Rose's interview style on his television show, where thoughtful questions and in-depth responses create the meaningful discourse Wong values in the classroom. “You think about our students - they have already launched their careers, they are already doing what they love, and when you engage them in that kind of dialogue,  it’s a lot more interesting.” says Wong,  “Some of these students may even have a more in depth knowledge than our faculty in a certain area, given their work experience. A conversational approach to the coursework takes that into account. We’re still respecting what they know, and we’re giving perspectives that they may not have. These changes will put us in a place where we can be a lot more connected with our students.” 


"These changes will put us in a place where we can be a lot more connected with our students."

The results from the program refresh and the feedback from students, says Wong, are overwhelmingly positive. “I’m fortunate to have a group of colleagues who really want to make it better for their students. The question I get the most from fellow faculties is ‘how do I update my course now?’” In 2017, SBA’s Global Supply Chain Management Program was ranked one of the top 25 Supply Chain MBA Programs by US News & World Report, along with those of Purdue, Stanford,  and Carnegie Mellon. This spring Wong will be teaching the redesigned GSCM 515 to senior graduate students in the last term of the program, and he is already planning to continue to update and evolve his course. He intends to learn how to use the One Button Studio at OAI to record videos himself without the assistance of a media team, so that he can add timely, relevant content to his course whenever he wants. “I think that the benefit of having that instant real-time input into the program will be a critical piece to think about, says Wong, “as my other colleagues consider teaching online.”


Get Started

Daniel Wong and his colleagues were part of a Flexible Degrees Program project with OAI.
If you’re interested in designing or redesigning a program in your department, keep an eye out for an RFP coming soon for Flexible Degrees Round 3.

Use multimedia. Incoporating multimedia is a great simple step to introduce
something new to your course. Meet our multimedia team and visit the multimedia lab,
where we can help you make your own material for campus-based, hybrid, or online courses.

What’s the One Button Studio? OAI houses a self-service media studio
you can operate by just pushing one button. We handle the rest.
Schedule a meeting with our media team to learn how to use it.