Matthew Sorley talks about his new online course.
By Maha Ansari
Between managing an online course he designed himself, teaching face-to-face classes, and helping students access new learning opportunities, Matthew Sorley has plenty of responsibility on his plate.
The Carleton University instructor recently welcomed a new addition to the list of classes he teaches – Sport and Performance Psychology (PSYC 3301).
PSYC 3301 aims to understand “the elements of excellence,” says Sorley. It uses psychology to understand performance in sports, exercise and similar areas. But exploring the psychology behind performance isn’t the only goal of the course.
“It’s also about trying to assist people to come a little bit closer in realizing their potential,” says Sorley.
The class – available in an online version or a face-to-face format – is the brainchild of Professor Sorley himself. By creating an online version of PSYC 3301, Sorley has been able to take advantage of teaching methods that a traditional course could not support.
“Students are not just creating a Word Document or a standard academic paper,” says Sorley. “They are creating a very rich, multimedia online environment.”
Another interesting teaching method Sorley incorporates into his online course is a series of weekly videos he calls “Taking it to the Matt.” In the short videos, Sorley aims to reduce the psychological distance between himself and his students by answering questions, offering tips, and occasionally discussing news stories that relate to the course.
“I think that helps to remind the students that while the video modules have all been pre-recorded, there is still a live human being who is monitoring the course, who they can reach out to whenever they want,” says Sorley.
Apart from his role as an instructor, Sorley was recently appointed Experiential Learning Chair of Carleton University’s psychology department. He helps students secure learning opportunities that extend beyond the traditional classroom.
“My role in part is to serve as a bridge between students who are looking for such opportunities and those with opportunities to share,” he says.
Looking to the future, Sorley says he’s inspired by the philosophy of Karch Kiraly, a three-time Olympic gold medalist. Kiraly did not strive for perfection each day; he simply focused on growing better.
“For me, that’s really the goal,” says Sorley.
“With every course that I teach, with every initiative that I’m a part of, with every program adjustment that we try to make, I want to get better.”