Featured Alumni Profiles

Lorraine Bertan

Lorraine Bertan

BA '54, MA '56, Science Education

Lorraine Bertan recognizes the importance of technology- in fact, she celebrates it. After retiring from teaching science at the Bronx High School of Science and in the East Meadow School District of Long Island, Lorraine Bertan, '56, traded chalk, blackboards, and rows of wooden desks for a computer, mouse and online message board. In her current role as an instructor for the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Seminars on Science Online Graduate Courses, Bertan utilizes the internet to instruct future science educators in Evolution, Earth Science and the Ocean System.

Bertan's work with the AMNH is only the latest development in the far-reaching accomplishments of her career. After retiring from teaching in 1993, it didn't take long for Bertan to realize that her passion for science and education was far from over. She joined AMNH as a teaching volunteer and because of her professional high school science experience, she became a Science Curriculum Consultant to the Department of Professional Development at AMNH. Her work with the Department concentrated on aligning exhibits and collections with the New York State Science Regents curriculum. This led to an invitation to join the faculty of Seminars on Science, for which she fulfilled online pedagogical course requirements.

Bertan often marvels over the inherent differences between teaching students face-to-face and teaching them online, and as a double NYU alumna (Washington Square College '54, Steinhardt ‘56), she constantly explores the intersection of theory and practice while keeping her work centered on her students. "I am grateful for the fine preparation I received as a student at NYU."

"Online, informal education is different from traditional classroom teaching; the written word is everything and must take the place of classroom interaction" she says. "I sometimes miss the intimacy and in-person contact of classroom teaching and am grateful for the face to face teaching I do as a member of the AMNH Department of Professional Development." In addition to her position at AMNH, she serves as an adjunct lecturer at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

To supplement her AMNH course curriculum, taught through essays, textbook readings, computer interactives, image galleries, and videos, Bertan often welcomes her students to visit her at AMNH. "Some students need both in-person and online interaction," she says, "Online courses could never replace the traditional classroom, but they offer students an opportunity to explore the resources and scientific expertise of AMNH. Many of my students come from all over the country, Canada and Europe, and are involved with the International Baccalaureate Program. Although online instructors work 24/7, they can be anywhere in the world as long as they have internet access to teach the course. This allows me the ability to travel to places like Iceland and Antarctica, and add some interesting resources to the course".

With a desire to bring the best of online teaching and in-person classroom experiences to her students, Bertan's passion for teaching continues to influence new generations of students.