Meet Dr. Ruth Gannon Cook…

Meet Dr. Ruth Gannon Cook – our upcoming Faculty Mentor for the Master of Arts in Educating Adults Cluster 10, starting this Fall!

Dr. Ruth Gannon Cook

Ruth is a tenured Associate Professor who has been teaching in  DePaul’s, School for New Learning  for the past eight years.  She has taught courses on the  application of technology as well as training, and organizational change courses and core courses in the undergraduate and graduate SNL programs.  She also recently authored the book “What Motivates Faculty to Teach in Distance Education?: A Case Study and Meta-Literature Review,” and has written ten book chapters on e-learning. Prior teaching experience has included eight years at the University of Houston-Clear Lake and the University of Houston system where she also served as Director of Distance Education, and four years at Colorado Mountain College where she also served as a Program Director. Her earlier career included hosting a radio show and cable TV show for six years, and serving as a Vice President for a manufacturing company.

We asked Ruth a few questions: 

What sorts of topics will you be covering this Fall in Developing Professional Identity, the first course of the MAEA program?

In the Developing Professional Identify Course we will cover the contents of the two textbooks, Elias, J., & Merriam, S. (2005). “Philosophical Foundations of Adult Education, 3rd ed.,” and Pratt, D. & Associates. (2005), “Five Perspectives on Teaching in Adult and Higher Education.” I’ll cover how students can begin translating what they’re learning in the program right now into their practice settings.  We will discuss issues related to prospective career opportunities available upon completing your MAEA.  I also will begin coaching students as they lay the foundation to establish a professional reputation in the field of educating adults.

What advice do you have for graduate students or prospective graduate students?

“We live in a very stressful world, so when I talk with prospective graduate students I ask them how they currently use their time, I ask them how they will handle juggling work and their studies, and I ask them if they have the support of their employer and, more important, their spouses and families. A graduate degree can be very helpful for one’s career in many career fields, but a prospective student also needs to understand that she/he needs to continue to have a vision of how they will forge their career path with the intention to use that graduate degree. There are so many possibilities, even in an economy like the one we are in, sometimes we need to expand our view of how we can attain our goals—perhaps those goals can be achieved, just a different way. If graduate students are open and willing to explore all avenues with that shiny new graduate degree, there is no limit to the success they can achieve—the world truly is their career-place.”

What inspired you to write your book?  What motivates you personally to teach online?

I wrote the book “What Motivates Faculty to Teach in Distance Education?” because I had conducted my dissertation on this topic, and I thought that the data I had uncovered in my dissertation research could be informative to many universities, administrators, and faculty who are considering or currently teaching online and distance education courses. So I went back and conducted further extensive research and collected it into what is now my book. It is very heartening that a number of administrators at other universities have emailed and called me to tell me they have bought the book, used the data and recommendations, and that it was very helpful.

What motivates me personally to teach online is what motivated me 15 years ago when I first decided to do my doctorate with an emphasis in instructional design and distance education, and that is to offer opportunities for students who could not, otherwise, attend college except via distance learning, or what we today call e-learning. It wonderful to get the feedback from students who are graduating that share they could not have done it unless they could undertake doing their studies online. It is very heartening and it reminds me every day why I love what I do so much. I currently conduct extensive research in semiotics—and cyber-semiotics in relation to designing e-learning; and I am working on two books on semiotics, one is interdisciplinary, and one is an edited book with my research partner, Dr. Caroline Crawford.

Hometown:  New Orleans (Now resides in Chicago)


  • B.A.:  Business, Loyola University (New Orleans)
  • M.S. Ed.:  Educational Administration, Loyola University (New Orleans)
  • Certificate for Advanced Studies: Emphasis in Change Diffusion and Technology Integration Queens College (Cambridge, UK)
  • Ed.D.:  Instructional Technology, University of Houston, College of Education (Texas)

Recent Awards:

  • “Women of Spirit” Award, 2009 DePaul University
  • “Best Paper” (multiple awards), 2007 E-Learn International Conference, American Association for Computer Education, Quebec, Canada.

For more information about the Master of Arts in Educating Adults (MAEA) program  please contact or visit our website.

One Response to Meet Dr. Ruth Gannon Cook…

  1. Michael Quinn says:

    Congratulations Dr. Ruth. I thoroughly enjoyed your classes…and your are a strong mentor!!!
    Thanks for everything you have done for me. Mike

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