WWU team wins award for innovation in educational technology

A team of instructional designers and e-learning specialists at Western Washington University were given the NWACC Award for Innovation in Educational Technologies at a celebration on campus Monday, Nov. 18.

The WWU group -- Justina Brown, Marc Ravaris, John Farquhar, Andrew Blick, Maggie Barklind, and Peter Agras -- were given the award for an experiential development program they conducted in the past year.

“The Experiential Faculty Development Program on Blended Learning has been very popular with faculty and represents this university’s commitment toward quality instruction,” said John Farquhar, who leads the team. “We’re delighted and honored to be recognized by NWACC for their award for innovation and education techniques.”

According to the Northwest Academic Computing Consortium's website, the WWU program leads faculty-participants through selected best practices in the preparation and delivery of blended and online courses. Throughout the program, faculty experience a blended-format course, submit assignments for review and receive constructive feedback from their colleagues under the guidance of the WWU team.

The program has been delivered in five- and six-week workshops. Participants are expected to spend about 6 hours each week conducting tasks, reading articles and completing assignments. Example assignments require participants to:

  • create a syllabus and an assignment appropriate for a blended or online course;
  • create a lecture-capture;
  • practice providing online feedback;
  • deliver an online, synchronous web conference.

Workshop leaders and colleagues provide constructive feedback throughout.

Faculty who successfully complete all of the assignments receive a stipend as well as a certificate from WWU's office of Extended Education.

Participant surveys have shown that the course changes faculty expectations about teaching blended and online courses and that participants report feeling far more comfortable in using the tools and techniques appropriate for the practice, according to the NWACC website.

A component of NWACC's Instructional Technology program, the Award for Innovation in Educational Technologies recognizes instructional technologists (or technology teams) at NWACC member institutions who have displayed innovation in the design, development and/or support of instructional technologies.

The award program is designed to share proven strategies and inspire new ideas in the integration of information technology with teaching and learning. To facilitate this, recipients present their work and host a plenary session at the annual NWACC Instructional Technology Roundtable. Winners receive a $500 cash award.