Monday, March 2, 2009

Rio instructor practices what she teaches

Just call Carol Allen Captain Ahab. Or William Randolph Hearst. The Rio Salado College English teacher has turned her love of water, the outdoors and writing into a unique and fulfilling literary venture.

Allen and her husband Jim publish Arizona Boating & Watersports, a monthly print and online publication promoting boating safety, fishing, other outdoor activities, and invasive species management efforts in Arizona.

“With our shared interest in the outdoors, plus our commitment to Arizona, Jim and I thought it would be a good idea to begin an Arizona publication,” said Allen, adding “there was nothing like it in our state.”

Allen’s background is in English composition, literature and journalism, making the newspaper business a natural fit. She got her heels wet back in the 90s, when she moved to San Diego with her husband to live on their boat in America's Cup Harbor.

One day she visited the office of a well-established California boating and fishing newspaper to place an ad, and learned of a writing vacancy. She was hired, and worked there for seven years.

“I enjoyed every minute of it, and learned more about boating and fishing than I ever thought I needed to know!” said Allen.

Allen teaches literature and English 101 and 102 at Rio Salado, and considers online learning a “godsend.”

“Online learning facilitates a true one-on-one relationship between teacher and student,” said Allen. “I used to find that, in a classroom setting, very few students actually had the time for meaningful dialog with me. Some were too shy to ask for time with their teacher. However, with e-mail, each student can ask questions that he or she might not venture in a classroom.”

“I also think that, with a few exceptions, students do just as well, if not better, through online learning, especially with the encouragement to explore the Internet,” Allen said. “Some students can even accelerate -- one's own pace is accommodated well through online learning.”

She said another advantage of online classes is that students have the ability to polish their thoughts. “As a writer myself, I often feel that writing something, rather than speaking it, provides a chance to get it right before presenting it to another person.”

Allen said she incorporates some concepts of publishing Arizona Boating & Watersports in teaching her English classes.

“My emphasis on conciseness and accuracy is relevant to both my classes and my publication,” Allen said. “Communication, be it oral or written, has common denominators. Clarity of expression, intended audience, accuracy, and the importance of the right words to convey thoughts -- all of these are involved in communication.”

Recognizing the Allens’ dedication to environmental communication, the Arizona Game & Fish Commission honored Arizona Boating & Watersports last month with its 2008 Media of the Year Award for its support of the conservation of Arizona's wildlife and natural resources.

Allen and her husband also publish “Dinghy Digest,” a weekly e-newsletter about current news on boating, camping, fishing, hunting, RVing and watersports. To read their publications, visit www.azbw.com or pick up a copy at outdoor businesses throughout the state.

About Rio Salado College
Rio Salado, founded in 1978, is one of the ten Maricopa Community Colleges in Arizona. The college serves more than 60,000 students annually, more than half online, making it the “college within everyone’s reach.” Rio Salado offers general education courses as well as a variety of degree and certificate programs. For more information visit www.riosalado.edu.
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