Get to know our new Dean, School of Education, Dr. Errin Heyman!

Posted on: November 27, 2013
Dr. Errin Heyman

Dr. Heyman joined JIU this fall as the Dean for the School of Education.  We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Heyman to get to know her better.  Read on below to learn more about Errin!

Q: Tell us about yourself - where are you from, what universities did you attend, what did you study?

I am from Colorado Springs, CO, spending much of my childhood in Florissant, CO, before going to Denver (CU, Denver) to study English, where I got my BA and MA, in Teaching of English, in 1995. I worked for about 10 years before returning to school, online, through University of Phoenix’s School of Advanced Studies, where I earned a Doctorate in Education, focusing on Curriculum and Instruction, in 2010.

Q: Why did you leave the classroom to take on a role in education leadership?

It just so happened that as I was happily teaching English, on-ground, that CU-Denver started something ‘revolutionary’ and began to develop and teach courses ONLINE. I was approached in 1996 to develop and teach a research writing course online for them. At which time, I politely declined (having minored in Medieval Literature, not owning a computer, and not really caring about technology much at that time). However, being adjunct, it was take it or leave it deal and I decided, Ok, I’ll bungle my way through this online thing… and then get back into the REAL classroom when that’s done! I actually developed and taught my first online class in the student computer lab!

This one opportunity completely changed my career trajectory (which, initially, was to go straight on for a PhD, probably in Creative Writing, and become a tenured professor somewhere). I quickly realized two things about this strange, new world of online:

First, for English writing, especially, how better to learn how to write than to have 99% of the course communication IN writing?

 Secondly, coming from a rural town, I thought about the huge potential online had for so many people to continue their education who might not otherwise be able to, due to being ‘land-bound.’

After those realizations, I quickly changed my mind about online and continued to build additional courses and teach them for CU-Denver for another couple of years. During this time, however, I was approached by a little company –Real Education—who needed people to help build their online platform and services. That company turned into eCollege (now Pearson eCollege), and I ended up there for nearly 10 years, training across the country—teaching other teachers how to instruct online.

While I wasn’t in the classroom with students, I still was in a ‘teaching’ role, and found over those years that I wanted to remain in education, but I was good at working with faculty.

I moved to Southern California in 2007 to a smaller, healthcare-focused school, where I began their online presence, and eventually founded their Center for Excellence in Learning, Teaching, and Assessment, focusing on faculty development and university assessment.

And finally, I came back to my home-state of Colorado in September after accepting the Dean position at JIU.


Q:  In your opinion, what are the advantages of an online education versus a traditional classroom setting?

As noted above, online has the great potential to meet everyone’s needs for education, especially if they cannot move to a physical college or university. The power of MOOCs, for instance, in third world countries is incredible. Think of all the people who would never otherwise be able to obtain an education, suddenly able to join the global education community!

I also feel that, if you are a disciplined learner, online can be more in-depth than face-to-face, allowing for deeper learning, and oftentimes, deeper connections with peers and instructors.


Q:  What are some challenges/developments/changes in the field of education and how will JIU's School of Education help students prepare for a career in this field?

The field of education is continually changing, so a challenge is to keep up with the changing landscape, especially for the K-12, educator preparation programs. National and state requirements change often, so we have an obligation to “keep up.” With that said, we are looking to focus curricula more on preparing for Common Core and more in-depth teacher evaluation, among other areas, of course.


Q: Share with us a few fun facts about yourself!

I am a history buff, especially with is comes to WWI and II

I love to write poetry.

I am an avid live music fan.


Thank you so much to Dr. Heyman for spending a few moments to tell us about herself.  We are thrilled to have Dr. Heyman join the JIU faculty and are looking forward to having her as part of our JIU family.