Taking the Distance out of Distance Education

Dr. Frank Markow would like to take some of the distance out of distance education.

“I want our online students to feel as connected to the school as our face to face students do,” he exclaimed. “I want them to feel they know their professors well, know the staff and have a sense of who we are.”

Because most of TKU’s major programs can be done completely online, the first time a distance education student steps foot on campus may be at graduation. That makes the connection piece with these students very important. Dr. Markow, the Dean of Distance Education and Innovative Learning at The King’s University, feels up to the challenge.

“Most of my educational experience has been with non-traditional students,” he said. “I’ve always been working with non-traditional programs, extension programs, degree completion programs, and modules. That’s been my main experience. I feel in a way it’s a good fit for me.”

Dr. Markow’s own educational history gives him an appreciation for distance education.

“Believe it or not, I didn’t finish my first degree until I was 35,” he explained. “When I first started working on my bachelor’s, there were no degree completion programs. There were no online classes. I know the challenges of a working adult trying to finish their degree. Perhaps my passion for this whole area stems from my experience as an adult student needing to find practical ways to finish my degree — and I know there are many, many people in that situation.”

Although several TKU faculty members teach some of the online courses, Dr. Markow has developed an impressive list of online adjunct professors as well.

“What I’ve found is not everyone who’s a good face to face instructor makes a good online instructor,” he said. “They really are different skill sets. I’ve worked really hard to find people who have the right combination of experience and are effective online teachers. That’s what gives students a good online experience.”

The distance education dean relocated from Southern California to the TKU Gateway campus this year along with his wife Gina and four children.

“This whole transition was such a divinely orchestrated kind of move,” he exclaimed.

As he looks toward the future, Dr. Markow is excited about what he envisions for the distance education program at TKU.

“I believe The King’s University has a vision for doing education differently,” he said. “Our network of relationships, our interdenominational ethos — which is something Pastor Jack Hayford fostered — and our relationship with Gateway church, give us a lot of connections that could benefit from the type of distance education we offer. I’m excited to see what the Lord has for us in the future in terms of really leveraging those relationships and for us to be able to think outside the box and offer the types of programs that working church leaders need.”

“I believe TKU has a bright future,” he continued. “I believe we’re in the position to do great things in the future. Our relationship with Gateway Church is going to launch us to be recognized as a leader in education, and distance and innovative education because they are an innovative church and we share that DNA. I believe our best days are ahead of us, and God is going to use us to impact students all around the world.”