Posted by: Apurva Mehta | June 14, 2012

Teaching with Technology Awards 2012

This year, four faculty awards were given for teaching with technology, two sponsored by Educational Technology for innovation and leadership in using various technologies for teaching in face-to-face courses, and two sponsored by University College for leadership and excellence in online teaching. You can see videos of the award presentations by Apurva Mehta, Director of Educational Technology and Client Services, and by Philip DiSalvio, Dean of University College, in the Conference Proceedings.

Lynnell Thomas, Associate Professor of American Studies, received the award for Leadership in Teaching with Technology.  Lynnell has been contributing to innovative teaching, faculty development, and the use of educational technology on campus in several ways:

  • integrating the effective use of Blackboard into web-enhanced sections, using journals, blogs, and threaded discussions to support different aspects of her students’ work.
  • working with the library to create research library guides for her courses and using an online database, History Engine to integrate traditional pedagogy and digital technology and guide her students through the process of “doing history”
  • offered frequent forum and conference presentations on teaching with technology. (See her recent CIT EdTech forum presentation on Engaging Learners Using Blackboard Discussions and hear this year’s conference presentation on “Doing History” in the Conference Proceedings.)
  • contributing to ongoing faculty development and the planning of CIT/EdTech forums and conferences and highlighting the importance of bringing the topic of educational technology into our teaching discussions.

Tracy Brown, Lecturer in Academic Support and ESL, received the award for Innovation and Creativity in Teaching with Technology.  Tracy helps her students to develop the English speaking and listening skills that they’ll need for their academic work, including being able to understand lectures and participate in class discussions. To foster these skills, she has been making extensive use of several tools, including Wikispaces to post assignments, activities, resources and as a place where students can post and their own spoken presentations and respond to each others’; and Voicethread. to prepare presentations that incorporate images and voice and let students speak and record their responses to those presentations and to each others’ comments.  Her initial efforts led the Educational Technology Division to purchase a Voicethread license and it is now being used across many modern language courses.  Tracy has been both inventive in discovering new resources and generous in sharing what she’s learned with others in various faculty forums. (Listen to her CIT/EdTech Forum presentation on the topic of Engaging Learners on the UMass Boston YouTube channel.)

Ellen Birchander, Director of the Management of Aging Services track of the Gerontology Graduate Program, received the award for Leadership in Online Teaching.  She has mastered the technologies of online course delivery, developed a fully online Management of Aging graduate certificate program, and given back to her community in several ways:

  • providing veteran faculty members with ongoing professional development opportunities to help them adopt new instructional technologies, while recruiting and supporting new faculty
  • developing student support systems and course delivery models appropriate for the Gerontology academic program its and the student populations it serves
  • sharing with new directors of online programs her long years of successful experience as an online program director.

Felicia Sullivan, who has taught online courses for three colleges at UMass/Boston–the College of Public and Community Service, the College of Education and Human Development, and the College of Liberal Arts, and currently teaches in both Creative and Critical Thinking and Political Science, received the award for Excellence in Online Teaching. In CPCS, she served as a curriculum advisor on the core competencies for the Community Media and Technology degree in CPCS, and has taught classes on Media Literacy and Media and Community Building in that program, both face-to-face and online.   She also teaches Thinking, Learning, and Computers for CCT and a course on Politics by Internet for Political Science. Her goals are to bring the engagement and connection of the face-to-face classroom, the encouragement and support of community education, and the active and independently driven learning from critical, creative and reflective practice into all of her online classes.  She wants students to feel like they are part of a learning community and for them to have the confidence to be in the driver’s seat of their own intellectual journey.

The Education Technology instructional designers find her courses to be expertly designed from a Blackboard Vista standpoint, and note that she also makes use of a variety of other educational support features. Her students use the group feature within Wikispaces and they each have their own group Voicethread. Her students find her online course materials to be organized and easy to navigate and her learning methods to be challenging and fulfilling, and they appreciate being exposed to new tools and ways of thinking.

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