Find a Course

Fostering Global Academic Synergy With a Fulbright Scholar at APU

Published by Afterschool.my on Apr 15, 2024, 02:37 pm

In alignment with its commitment to global educational advancements and the fortification of its digital learning ecosystem, the Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) proudly welcomes Dr Kelly McKenna, an Associate Professor in the Adult Education and Training Master's Degree Programme at Colorado State University (CSU), USA, as a Fulbright Scholar. This collaboration not only augments the educational experience for APU students and faculty but also solidifies APU’s stature as a premier institution in technology and innovation.

Dr Kelly McKenna, Fulbright Scholar at APU.

Originating from the vision of United States Senator J. William Fulbright in 1946, the Fulbright Programme stands as a beacon of educational exchange, aimed at fostering peace and understanding globally. Acknowledged as one of the most prestigious scholarships in the USA, it extends opportunities for study, research, and teaching across various disciplines. Dr Kelly, affiliated with CSU, a prolific producer of Fulbright scholars and students, embodies the essence of this esteemed programme.

Dr Kelly's tenure at APU, spanning from January to June 2024, entails collaboration with APU’s Digital Learning Hub (DLH), led by Professor Dr Abtar Darshan Singh. Their joint efforts encompass cross-cultural exchange, research endeavours, and the development of innovative curricula tailored to APU’s diverse learner community.

To gain insights into Dr Kelly's experiences and goals during her Fulbright tenure, we had the privilege of conducting an interview in late February, one month into her official engagement:

Q: What motivated you to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship to work in Malaysia, specifically at APU?

A: The Fulbright Scholar Award is a prestigious honour in the United States. Colorado State University, where I teach, is renowned for producing Fulbright scholars and students. The educational exchange has been a consistent thread in my career, making this opportunity to engage in another culture and learn from experts akin to my own work highly appealing. My interactions with the Malaysian-American Commission on Educational Exchange (MACEE) introduced me to Prof. Dr Abtar Darshan Singh and APU. Impressed by APU's accolades and its leadership in online education and technology, I couldn’t pass up the chance to work with Prof. Abtar.

Q: What are your plans both at work and after work during your time in Malaysia?

A: Over the six months at APU, I'll collaborate with the Digital Learning Hub, focusing on the design of the new MEd in Learning Design and Technology. I aim to foster collaborative experiences between APU and CSU programmes. Additionally, I'm co-developing the Learning Innovation and Teaching Excellence (LITE) certificate programme for APU lecturers, emphasising innovation and teaching excellence. Beyond work, I'm immersing myself in local activities, traditions, and experiences, taking full advantage of Malaysia’s beauty and welcoming community.

Q: In your role as an associate professor of adult education, what expertise do you aim to contribute to the APU community?

A: Within the graduate programme for adult educators at CSU, I specialise in equipping individuals to effectively teach adults across various contexts such as corporate training, higher education, basic education for adult learners who seek alternative learning paths, language instruction, and professional development.

Many of my students are seasoned professionals in their respective fields or subject matter experts who are tasked with instructing others but lack formal pedagogical training. They enrol in my programme, which emphasises practical application tailored to their roles. This dynamic allows me to gain insight into diverse professional landscapes as they apply instructional design and facilitation techniques to their specific contexts.

My research primarily centres on distance education, particularly within online environments. I investigate aspects such as community building, engagement strategies, and the integration of technology to enhance teaching and learning experiences. My focus lies predominantly on asynchronous online or open-distance learning methodologies. Given APU's endeavour to incorporate more online modules into its curriculum, I aspire to contribute to this initiative during my tenure here. My research approach typically involves mixed methods, often incorporating learning analytics to provide comprehensive insights.

Q: Would you like to share some concrete plans or planned activities here at APU?

A: Besides working on the LITE certificate at APU, I plan to work on some research endeavours with Prof. Abtar, hopefully, including some comparative work between the US and Malaysia. I’d like to apply a framework derived from best practices in online design and delivery and analyse how this framework may differ between the two countries. Applying a framework for online teaching is a great way to ensure a successful experience for both instructors and learners. 

Moreover, I hope to engage with the Digital Learning Hub’s work around generative AI. The application of AI in education is very different in the United States, so I think this is a great learning opportunity. 

I’m also engaging with PhD students here at APU and supporting scholarship efforts by the Digital Learning Hub, including research and publications. This is such a wonderful opportunity for me to connect with individuals across APU and the local community and learn with and from all of you. I am happy to contribute in whatever innovative ways I can and look forward to any new opportunities that may arise.

Q: What goals do you have in mind for creating optimal learning environments and fostering successful student experiences in adult and higher distance education?

A: My career at CSU, a research-intensive university, allows me to participate in experiences like the Fulbright while supporting positive experiences for online facilitators and learners. My goal is personal growth through educational exchange and international experiential teaching. Success, for me, is retiring from my current faculty position while continually contributing to initiatives that align with the university's mission. Being at APU provides me with new perspectives and knowledge to bring back to my university.

Welcoming Dr Kelly McKenna as a Fulbright Scholar, the APU community is delighted to embrace her commitment to educational exchange and expertise in online education. This promises a mutually enriching collaboration between APU and CSU, poised to make a meaningful contribution to the global landscape of higher education.

Latest News

Need help?