Witt Salley knows firsthand what it means to be an untraditional student. When most eighth graders were prepping for high school, he was taking his first college course. By the time he was about 18 years old, he had already earned his bachelor’s degree. All of this advanced learning and achievement was made possible for Salley through online courses, inspiring a career as a leader in the development and integration of online courses across the nation.
With a doctorate in education, e-learning and teaching online, Salley has a deep understanding and passion for pedagogical models in the online classroom. He also brings real-world experience to the table, both as an online student and an online teacher. That has enabled him to drive innovative online programs at various universities, including the first fully online associate of arts degree program at Ozarks Technical Community College in Missouri, and a fully synchronous Ph.D. program in rhetoric, communication and information design at Clemson University in South Carolina.
In his current role at Maryland University of Integrative Health, he is establishing a new center for online teaching and learning that supports faculty. “It’s an opportunity to promote pedagogical innovation, learning sciences research and the best of online pedagogy not only to those online faculty, but to all faculty,” Salley said. He’s also actively involved in developing a pedagogical model that encompasses the university’s values and goals.
For Salley, online learning is not just a way to leverage cutting-edge technology. He recognizes that it’s critical to the future of education. “It is the single most powerful way to transform higher education,” he said. “I think that online education compels us to discover, invent and implement innovative pedagogies that better serve students and yield better learning outcomes.” — Julia McCandless