Open Learning Director Draws on Fascinating International Experience

April 30, 2020

In 2018, David Nickerson began working at Emmanuel Bible College as the director of Open Learning, a new branch of the College that aims to increase access to education, especially non-credit education. When he set foot on campus his first day, he brought with him a fascinating educational and professional history that has shaped Open Learning and even the entire school.

In young adulthood, Nickerson earned two bachelor’s degrees from Nippissing University in North Bay, Ontario, focusing on psychology and education. During this time he cultivated a passion for “learning theory,” which integrates findings from both of these disciplines, among others. Later he returned to school to study project management.

For years he combined his love for learning theory with his proficiency with digital technology, working as a consultant mainly for projects that involved e-learning. His work took him around the world, from Wall Street in New York City to Thailand and Cambodia. In one project that helped prepare him for this year’s COVID-19 crisis, he helped a company replace an in-person training program with an e-learning one while maintaining its previous learning outcomes.

Nickerson, a committed evangelical Christian, had some opportunities to engage in faith-related work. Once he helped a church organization develop a new discernment and screening process for potential church planters. The new system was more efficient in terms of time and expenses. In a longer and more immersive work experience, he moved to Russia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union so he could teach religious-education curriculum. This project afforded the opportunity to work and build relationships with some Russian believers who had lived under USSR rule. Nickerson remained in Russia for one year.

Not content merely to help develop learning systems and programs, Nickerson also expressed his passion for learning theory by teaching at the postsecondary level. He worked as an instructor at Sheridan College, Seneca College, and others, teaching courses related to technology and project management.

In 2014 Nickerson decided to further his Christian education by pursuing a Master of Christian Education degree, with a specialization in teaching, from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He completed his entire degree as an online international student, graduating on May 5, 2018. Two days later he started working at Emmanuel.

Leading Open Learning at Emmanuel has proved to be a great way for Nickerson to apply his wide range of abilities. One of his early projects was the development of Live Online, an internet-based mode of classroom delivery. Other projects include workshop series and online non-credit courses. In March he played a central role in the school’s temporary transition to all-online teaching and continues to monitor online lectures.

In this multifaceted work at Emmanuel, Nickerson enjoys observing a variety of teaching styles and techniques and reflecting on the diversity of learning experiences at the College. “There are unlimited ways to teach well,” he says, “And I love watching individual professors and seeing the many ways that they teach well.”