ETRA doctoral candidate offers faculty ways to ‘rethink’ online course delivery

Hal Hinderliter
Hal Hinderliter

As another semester of remote learning begins, Hal Hinderliter is on a mission.

Hinderliter, a teaching and research assistant in the Department of Educational Technology, Research and Assessment (ETRA), wants to help faculty in the NIU College of Education to reimagine the ways in which they’re using the electronic platforms at their fingertips.

Whether it’s to maximize the potential of those applications for a current course, or to renovate a course planned for the spring semester, Hinderliter is ready to begin those journeys.

“The capabilities of the online medium mean that faculty are not necessarily tied down by what they’ve done in face-to-face settings in the past,” says Hinderliter, a Ph.D. candidate in Instructional Technology in his final semester at NIU.

“It’s too often these days, especially because of COVID, that people are moving online in a panic,” he adds. “It’s not necessary. If you’ve got the time, you can rethink your course: ‘Why use the same materials, in the same way, in the same sequence? Maybe I need to come up with a new way to reach students.’ ”

Faculty interested in such conversations either can make appointments to visit Hinderliter in person – he’s on campus during the afternoon hours Mondays and Tuesdays in Gabel 208-D, and is willing to travel to other offices and labs – or online “at any time.”

General questions about how Blackboard and other programs function are OK, he adds, but probably are better answered by NIU’s Division of Information Technology or Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning.

Even a short chat with Hinderliter demonstrates why he cares so deeply about finding the most effective strategies for content delivery online.

“My background is the printing industry,” he says. “After 20 years of helping people chop down trees and smear ink on them, I realized that wasn’t the future – and that my penance for helping to kill so many trees was to figure out how we can best use this new electronic media, and to make the experience as good as possible, and in many cases, I think, better than ink on paper.”

Hinderliter’s career away from the pressroom led him into e-commerce, writing for corporate publications and providing consultation and training services, the management of training labs, the development of courses for industry and the delivery of invited presentations at numerous professional conferences.

Realizing that he “slid into instructional design without having the background for it,” he came to ETRA for his doctorate and dissertation on “Presentation Design and the Effect of Temporal Contiguity and Verbal Redundancy.”

For more information, or to make an appointment, contact Hinderliter at

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