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2003 Annual Report - Azusa Pacific University
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A New Approach to Education  

When Azusa Pacific University’s largest school sought to replace the retiring dean of seven years, it did not look too far – just up the coast about 54 miles to Pepperdine University in Malibu. There the administration found Terence R. Cannings, Ed.D., associate dean and professor of education for the Graduate School of Education and Psychology. In summer 2002, Cannings left Pepperdine, where he had served for more than two decades, and moved south to accept the position of dean of APU’s School of Education and Behavioral Studies (EDUCABS). In his new role, Cannings provides leadership and sets the vision for nine undergraduate and graduate departments, six in the area of education, two in psychology, and one in social work.

“In this search, Dr. Cannings demonstrated a passion and vision for this school that is truly inspiring,” said Jon R. Wallace, DBA, president. “He brings significant experience to bear on the university’s commitment to train and equip teachers for both public and private schools. I am thrilled with Dr. Cannings’ selection and look forward to his leadership.”

Cannings’ broad educational experience includes positions in teaching, research, and administration at the school, district, and state levels. With a passion for using computers as teaching tools, Cannings also lectures on technology throughout the world, including presentations at the World Conference on Computers in Education.

Cannings also is a strong proponent of distributed learning. Unfamiliar to many, this new instructional strategy involves “experiences that combine the use of face-to-face teaching with synchronous and asynchronous mediated interaction, distributing learning across a variety of geographic settings, across time, and across various interactive media,” he said. The nature of the distributed learning approach opens enrollment to a national population, making it possible for a doctoral student in Pennsylvania to study with “classmates” in Virginia and California.

“It is an extremely powerful tool,” said Cannings. “It allows time for reflection not afforded in the classroom, and students pay close attention to the quality of their responses knowing that others will be reading them. I have found that the asynchronous online instructional method produces greater quality interaction than any other approach.”

Cannings is not alone in his findings. A study last year analyzed the distributed learning model at the Harvard Graduate School of Education with similar findings. The research concluded that through the use of synchronous and asynchronous media that facilitate the exchange of ideas and information across time and distance, computer-mediated communication is conducive of collaborative, student-centered learning. This form of communication fosters critical thinking, reflection, knowledge construction, and active participation.

To complement EDUCABS’ distributed learning offerings, Cannings also plans to create a website for publishing and sharing scholarly work to enhance collaborative relationships with community groups. Additionally, he intends to create strategies for integrating faith and learning and explore outreach opportunities in Africa and China.

Cannings received a teaching certificate from Balmain Teacher’s College, Sydney, Australia; a B.A. from the University of New England, N.S.W., Australia; an M.Ed. from the University of Sydney, Australia; and an Ed.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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