If there’s one person in the North Dakota University System who knows distance education, it has to be Misti Wuori. Few can match Mayville State University’s Director of Extended Learning in the topics of extended learning, distance learning or blended classes. It’s not hard to see why, either, given her extensive background on the topics.
Prior to her current role, where she’s served for nearly a decade, Wuori worked as the distance education program coordinator at MaSU on the Lake Region State College campus. Additionally, she also teaches online Introduction to Sociology courses at MaSU, and serves as the HOV-ITV Consortium Director. Before that, she was an instructor at Turtle Mountain Community College (TMCC) in Belcourt. That’s where she really found her passion for the topic.
“While at TMCC, I was introduced to online and blended teaching, and really loved working with online students and adult learners,” she noted. “When the opportunity came up to work as a distance education program director, online advisor, and online instructor with Mayville State on the Lake Region campus, I felt this was a great opportunity to learn even more about advising online students and adult learners.”
According to Wuori, the opportunities to follow her dream continued to present themselves.
“When the opportunity came up to move to Mayville and serve as the Director of Admissions and Extended Learning, it felt like a great chance to keep working to expand online learning opportunities for rural students and adult learners,” she said. “This is definitely my passion!”
Her day-to-day work takes her through a number of related topics, including committees on university marketing committee, curriculum, online learning, learner accessibility, strategic planning, diversity, institutional reaccreditation, technology planning, Starfish analytics, provisional admission, student affairs, and more.
“I work on online program enrollment planning and expanding opportunities for MaSU’s online students; supporting MaSU’s full-time distance education program directors on the LRSC and Williston State College campuses; developing marketing campaigns and marketing materials for MaSU’s online programs; and directing all operations of our eight person department that includes distance and online advisors, dual credit programs and admissions, nondegree/collaborative and continuing education opportunities and admissions; Moodle/Blackboard support; instructional design; online student support services; articulation agreements; and state authorization and compliance.”
And, if that wasn’t enough to keep her busy, she also gets plenty student interaction as well.
“I also carry an online student advising load, and teach online and dual credit SOC 110 Introduction to Sociology in the fall and spring semesters,” Wuori added, noting that she really enjoyed the diversity of her workload, which provides regular opportunities to work with different areas of the campus and learn something new.
“I enjoy providing personal attention to our online students and helping to resolve questions and concerns, and working with program advisors and academic departments in improving the support services and online learning opportunities they provide online students,” she said. “I really enjoy advising transfer students, online students, and adult learners. It is so rewarding to help students achieve their goals and earn their degrees!”
With that many responsibilities, challenges can present themselves. Two that should be familiar to many revolve around shifts in personnel and in the adoption of new tech.
“The biggest challenges for our area have been the turnover in staff to other positions in the university system or to other areas of the state, as well as the migration from Moodle to Blackboard,” Wuori added. “We are so busy in our rapidly growing area that any staff changes or major projects expand the workload significantly for all involved in Extended Learning. I have had the opportunity to work with many talented and dedicated staff members over the years! It has been very rewarding.”
Wuori’s passion and enthusiasm for her work have definitely helped her department and campus goals. Along the way, she’s even been honored with the Orville Johnson Meritorious Service Award, which is awarded to MaSU employees who show “outstanding dedication, loyalty and trustworthiness” in their work. Those qualities are also a likely reason she was also nominated for, and currently serves as, MaSU’s Staff Senate President and State Staff Senate Secretary.
She also serves as the secretary of her church council, Hillsboro United Parish.
Wuori concluded that she was grateful for her community, friends and colleagues.
“Mayville State is a great place to work!” she exclaimed. “The students, staff, and faculty are terrific and very caring. My husband had an extensive health crisis in fall 2016 due to a very complicated brain tumor and subsequent complications. He was hospitalized for four and a half months in different facilities. The support I had from my supervisor and other staff members to balance being with him at the hospital and to continue to do my work was amazing. I am so grateful to the Mayville State community for all the support!”