Happy New Year, readers! Our first student spotlight for 2016 is on Michael Hancock, a high school teacher in Ohio who has taken several of our Ecampus Chemistry courses.

  • Please share your background so we can get to know you better—what career are you in, or working towards? What inspired you to choose this path?

I am a high school science teacher and I’ve been teaching for eight years now.  Interestingly, I never started out to be a teacher.  My undergrad B.S. degree is in biology and after college I began a career at Battelle (a science research facility in Columbus, OH) for four years.  Later, the state of Ohio began increasing its science requirements for graduation and found itself short on science teachers.  So, they started seeking those who already had a strong science background and only needed the courses in pedagogy, which the state would pay for.  My wife was already a teacher and we had just been talking about how great it would be to raise a family if we were both teachers with the same schedules as our children.  So, when I heard the radio announcement for people with a background in science who were interested in becoming teachers, I applied.  Within a year, after an intense teaching program at Muskingum University, I passed the state exams (both to prove I knew biology as well as the pedagogy) and became a licensed teacher.  Within the next year I had a Master’s in Education and was teaching full time in Columbus City Schools.

Since my original degree was in biology, I was only licensed to teach Life Science courses in Ohio.  Recently, I got a job in the Licking Valley School District, which was much closer to home.  However, they needed a teacher with a license to teach chemistry, not biology.  Since I minored in chemistry in my undergrad I was confident that I could take one or two courses, if necessary, to get the chemistry licensure.  I was right… and wrong.  I did have enough undergrad chemistry credits to get a supplemental license to teach chemistry for two years.  However, during that time I would need to take 10 semester hours in chemistry and pass the required state chemistry test.  I searched high and low, scouring the internet for online programs that offered higher-level chemistry courses.  Most schools either did not offer any chemistry courses online above organic chemistry, or required that I seek a degree.  Finally, I found Oregon State’s Ecampus program that did offer just the right amount of chemistry courses that I had not already taken in my undergrad and I could register as a non-degree seeking student.  It was perfect!

  • What do you like most, or least, about our online classes?

I like the design of the courses the most.  I especially liked having the liberty to work and study at my convenience rather than trying to make it to a scheduled class, which would have been impossible while also working full time.  Some classes were designed better for online study than others.  I would like to mention Environmental Chemistry CH_390 taught by Marita Barth was the best online course due to the way it was organized; very clear directions, each topic was broken down and thoroughly explained with pencast tutorials as well as PowerPoint lectures and other tools, and there was little mystery as to what was expected of me as the learner.

What I liked least:  In nearly every course, during the audio recordings of the PowerPoint lectures, there were multiple references to things that were happening in the classroom that I could not see.  For example, one professor constantly referred to group activities and discussions that took place in the face-to-face class but never explained any detail nor provided any alternative exercise I could do at home.  Another professor would write and draw on the chalkboard during the lecture but never provided those images in some form online – so I was left with my imagination for what was being referred to on the board.  It would seem that could be improved with current technologies (even by snapping a photo and posting it to Canvas somewhere).  Perhaps lectures could even be video recorded and linked to on Canvas.

  • Do you have any advice for other online students?

Do not think that distance learning is somehow easier than face-to-face classes.  I found myself sometimes working and studying harder than I did in most in-person lectures because I couldn’t simply raise my hand to ask a clarifying question or talk to a peer after class.  Please don’t misunderstand, the benefits of Ecampus are too numerous to mention here and well worth the effort.  Just don’t be naive enough to think that the coursework will be less intense because you can work on it at your own convenience.  There are still challenges, the rigor can still be intense, and the expectations are still high.

  • What do you like to do in your spare time (or perhaps to relieve school stress!)?

I am the youth pastor at Christian Apostolic Church in Newark, OH and I serve the district of Ohio as the Ohio Youth Division Secretary for the United Pentecostal Church International.  I love being involved in ministry.

  • Do you have a family you would like to tell us about?

I am the husband of the best woman in the world, Ann Hancock and together we have two precious daughters, Ragon (5 years old and just started kindergarten) and Adley (5 months old and just started kissing her mom and play-fighting with her dad, as babies do!).


Lilly Lawrence-BriggsOur first December Focus on Ecampus interview is with Lilly Lawrence-Briggs, who is currently applying to Vet Med schools (including OSU). She discusses how helpful she found the lecture videos that some of our instructors incorporate into their online courses.

How did you find out about our online chemistry courses? What did you like best about them?

My Grandfather, Jack Briggs, is an alumnus of Oregon State University. He also used to teach Biology at the Corvallis campus. A few years ago, while I was getting my Bachelor’s degree in Business Psychology, I started having some interest in going to Veterinary school. My grandfather recommended OSU. I was living in California at the time, and needed something that was taught online. I found out about Dr. Barth’s general chemistry series and signed up. Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be capable of completing any college chemistry sequences. I’m not your typical “science student,” anyway. I was homeschooled all through high school and had *extremely* limited knowledge of anything scientific. I also have a diagnosed learning disability, an eye convergence issue, that’s always put me at a slight disadvantage in the brick and mortar classroom setting. Taking classes online better suited my disability, and it also allowed me to hide behind the computer screen and not make a fool out of myself in front of the smart students!

To my shock, I was able to get through the general chemistry sequence with all “A”s. I also graduated with my Bachelor’s degree at this time and was looking for that “next step” in my life. I started considering vet school much more seriously. I applied to OSU as a post-Bacc student, got accepted, and moved to Bend to study at OSU’s Cascade campus.

The first Organic chemistry class I took (331) was actually taught by Dr. Gautschi. He was teaching it on campus but, of course, I opted to take it online. I’d heard nightmare stories from students about organic chemistry and was way too chicken to sit in the live class. Oh, how I wish I knew about Dr. Myles then! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Dr. Gautschi! However, his online course had no lecture videos. I can’t emphasize how key those lecture videos were to my success in O-Chem. Furthermore, I almost failed Dr. Gautschi’s class and was feeling terrible. By doing a lot of hard work, meeting with tutors, and making one-on-one appointments with Dr. Gautschi, I was able to get by with a “B.” That was when he recommended Dr. Myles to me. I immediately went onto the Ecampus Chemistry website, looked up Dr. Myles’s email, and asked him if his organic course would include lecture videos. I can’t tell you how ecstatic I was when he said that it would! All of Dr. Barth’s general chemistry classes included lecture videos as well. I’m being 100% honest when I say that those videos are the reason for my success in both general and organic chemistry online. I was actually able to earn an “A” in Organic this time around. Being able to hit the pause button, take notes, re-watch worked problems, and review old recorded lectures was amazing! Obviously, students can’t hit the “pause button” on their live lecturing teachers. And, if you’re like me, you’re too embarrassed to speak-up in class.

Shout out to Dr. Myles:

It’s hard to choose just one thing I liked about Dr. Myles. His lecture videos were so clear and made learning the tricky O-Chem concepts much easier—I dare say even fun! ? He was also so nice, patient, and encouraging whenever I spoke with him via e-mail.

Advice for OSU Ecampus:

The only advice I could give would be to ask that all of OSU’s online courses have recorded lectures! For instance, I’m currently taking a genetics class online through OSU Ecampus. The professor is great, but she has no lecture videos… Honestly, that class would be so much more enjoyable if it had recordings like Dr. Myles’s class did. If you can’t tell, I’m very passionate about those online lecture videos! My disability slows me down in class and I always fall behind. The videos are my saving grace; they allow me to keep up.

What’s next for you?

I just finished all of my vet school applications. I applied to eight schools (including OSU) and will hopefully be hearing from them come January. As you know, O-Chem is a required course for all vet schools.

My passion to become a vet stems from my childhood. I was fortunate to grow up on a 40-acre farm in Northern CA. I was constantly watching my mom rescue animals, breed them, and train them. My mom is my ultimate motivator!

Do you have a hobby you’d like to tell us about?

In my spare time, you can find me riding & jumping horses. Below is a picture of me jumping my horse, Sublime. Interesting side note: this mare is pregnant and will have a foal next year! I actually bred her at Bend Equine Medical Center & Small Animal Division. Dr. Wayne Schmotzer, the clinic’s owner, used to teach at OSU’s College of Vet Med. Small world, right?



Name: Marita Barth

Area of Study / Position Title:  Instructor

Why chemistry? (What about it initially interested you?): I love science and figuring out how things work.  Chemistry is fun because you can apply it to so many different aspects of life to understand things better.


Research focus (in non-science terms) or basic job duties? I primarily teach Ecampus courses.  Mostly I teach in the general chemistry for non-majors sequence, but I also teach environmental chemistry.


One thing you truly love about your job? I love the opportunity to help students – many of whom are terrified of chemistry – face their fears and work their way to success in the material.  I *especially* love it when they come to appreciate or even enjoy the subject matter along the way.


One interesting/strange factoid about yourself. I did my BS at OSU, but did a year’s study abroad in New Zealand.  It was amazing.