Meet Your Future Instructor: Dr. Ryan Nash

Headshot of Master of Bioethics Professor Ryan Nash

Part of what distinguishes our online programs at The Ohio State University is our focus on faculty. The exceptional instructors who teach our online courses are also teaching in classrooms across campus. These educators are passionate about students and invested in your educational experience. 

Dr. Ryan Nash, Director of the Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, teaches in our online Master of Arts in Bioethics program

Meet your future instructor: 

What do you enjoy most about teaching online at The Ohio State University? 

One of the main reasons I teach at the university is to interact with students. The kind of graduate seminar style class that I like to teach is still very appealing, but is very difficult to achieve especially in a program that is trying to be available to a diversity of students. 

How do we make a program available for a diversity of Ohioans that is rigorous and meets The Ohio State University standards? I found that Ohio State has an emphasis on forming web based online programs that meet their standards. It's not an online degree, it is an Ohio State University degree. 

What are some advantages of teaching an online course? 

The flexibility actually has advantages from the educator stand point. I could have a program dealing with clinical care or research, and we can meet the students where they are. The students also have the ability work through their work week and do the modules as they have time, and there are fewer problems with missed lectures. 

We tried to develop all of our courses for the web-based students so that they can watch and learn according to their busy schedule, but we're still able to use the traditional teaching technique like my chalk talks. I shoot my chalk talks in front of a screen, but the way the student observes it is I'm writing on the computer screen. I'm in the room talking to them, and I'm giving the same lecture I would give if they were in the classroom. 

What are some of the challenges of teaching online, and how do you solve them? 

One of the challenges, is how do we further that relationship beyond me just talking on a computer screen? We try to achieve that through meaningful interaction during the course work, that are not just recorded lectures. It's ongoing discussion, sometimes video conferencing, sometimes other discussions, that are also time flexible. Instead of having a conversation over one hour, we may have a conversation over one week, where everyone can participate and give and take. In some ways, it's even easier to form the web-based relationship. 

If a student was hesitant about learning online, what kind of things would you tell them to encourage them to try it? 
From the professor who was very hesitant to get into web-based education, I think that hesitance from students pursuing web-based or online education is natural and healthy. But, if you see that it provides meaningful interactions with faculty and offers good guidance that furthers goals and careers, then I don't think that the online delivery mode should get in the way of that. Just because it is a web-based online program doesn't mean there's necessarily a hindrance to the real face-to-face communication. 
What is some advice that you would share with a student on how they can be successful while learning online? 
The advice I can give to potential students as they engage and pursue online learning is to find your motivation, to find your mission and take advantage of the opportunities before you. Why are you interested? Why are you doing what you're doing? Don't just take passively take what's given, pursue more. This is really about grappling with content and gaining experience from peers and from faculty that will help you wrestle with dilemmas that you face in careers, whether that be member of a hospital ethics committee or an institutional review board for research or conducting research clinical care. We want our students to really be motivated and to dive deep into the content, so that when they're at the bed side or in the board room they can really deal with the dilemmas at hand. So, if they find that mission as they're struggling with whether they should turn that TV on or read that reading, they can find the motivation to keep going through the program. 
Are you ready to engage the ethical questions and puzzles prominent in the diverse realms of medicine, healthcare, biomedical research and life sciences? Visit our Master of Arts in Bioethics webpage for more information.