Dr. Eileen O’Connor spent her first year after college teaching on a Native American reservation in Montana serving as a 4th grade teacher and as the science teacher for 4th through 8th grades. She then returned to her science roots, working as a chemist for both government and industry, joining IBM when they began a chemical division in 1981 then later moving into IBM’s regular product development, marketing and sales functions. In the 1990s, while pursuing her doctorate at the University at Albany, she taught at College of St. Rose in the chemistry department and in the instructional technology area. Upon graduation from the University at Albany she became a faculty member at SUNY Oneonta; served as the Assistant Director at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in their K-12 outreach effort; provided K12 and professional development programs to urban school districts in Albany and Troy New York; and taught as part-time faculty member for 10 years at the University at Albany (overlapping with time at ESC). Since 2004, she has worked for Empire State College School of Graduate Studies in various education, science education, and instructional technology teaching venues.
Dr. O’Connor particularly envisions her role as an online teacher as being the creator of the community socially-networked experiences that she threads through her 100% online courses at times engaging students in synchronous meetings and virtual reality environments. So in addition to using her STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) background in courses that create an interdisciplinary perspective, she also creates virtual-reality spaces for herself and her courses and guides many MALET students to creating their own immersive 3-D environments. Recently she has begun the Institute of New Paradigms a nascent think tank dedicated to reaching beyond the physical and even online constraints to create virtual reality 3-D experiences that bring in speakers, visitors, and explorations that move well beyond brick-and-mortar, learning management systems, and static teaching models. Many students, alumni and other educators are joining her there to help frame, understand, and envision the next steps in human learning and communication.