UD Online honors faculty for teaching, service to students
UD Online has honored faculty members, from left, front row, Diane Ferry, Sharon Watson, Meredith Wesolowski, and, back row, Rob Palkovitz, Patricia Walsh and Jules Bruck.
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3:17 p.m., Dec. 17, 2008----At the fourth annual UD Online Faculty Appreciation Reception, the University of Delaware's Division of Professional and Continuing Studies honored six faculty members for their outstanding contribution to teaching and serving students in a distance format.

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The event featured demonstrations by some of the award winners, which offered attendees the opportunity to learn about the innovations and successful techniques being used by their colleagues.

Diane Ferry, associate professor in the Department of Business Administration, was presented a Distinguished Teaching Award. Ferry began teaching in the online format 14 years ago and has been active and innovative ever since.

Dayle Thorpe, director of academic and professional programs for professional and continuing studies, who presented the award, noted that for many years Ferry has supported the University's study of international economics through two-way video and Internet collaboration with students at Kindai University in Japan.

Ferry has published numerous articles and presented frequently on information systems and technology and received several grants and teaching awards, including the University's Excellence in Teaching award in 1995.

Patricia Walsh, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences, also received a Distinguished Teaching Award. Walsh has been teaching in the distance education format since 1995.

In 2007, she participated in the first cohort of the UD Online Fellows program. She is also an alumna of the 2006 Summer Faculty Institute.

Walsh is lauded every semester by her students and one commented, “I think that she is a fantastic teacher�I feel like I learned so much from this class based on the instructor's organization, knowledge of the material, and interesting and informative presentations.”

A Pioneer Award went to Rob Palkovitz, professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Palkovitz has been teaching in the distance format since 1989, almost since the beginning of UD's program.

He remains dedicated to using new technologies and has introduced blogging in his course. Many of Palkovitz's online students commented favorably on the opportunity the blogs gave them to read and reflect on course topics.

Three Innovative Teaching Awards were presented. The first was given to Jules Bruck, assistant professor in the Department of Plant and Soil Sciences, for her work on the course Basic Landscape Design. Jann Sutton, UD Online instructional designer noted Bruck's exceptional creativity and energy in creating an online architect's scale, an interactive exercise to teach students the principles of this landscape design tool.

Also receiving an Innovative Teaching Award was Sharon Watson, associate professor of business administration, for her work on the course Strategic Management. Sutton cited Watson's use of Live Classroom, a synchronous virtual teaching and learning environment. Watson's Strategic Management students commented that “the technology was amazing.”

A third Innovative Teaching Award went to Meredith Wesolowski for her work on the Principles of Biology course with lab. She has integrated the 3-D virtual world, Second Life, into her course.

Wesolowski explains her syllabus and holds weekly chat sessions through an instructor avatar to ensure that her students are learning the course content. She received the 2008 Summer Faculty Institute Exemplary use of Technology in Teaching Award for her work with Second Life.

Opening remarks for the event were given by Brian Miller of Department of Hotel Restaurant and Institutional Management, one of last year's award winners. Miller presented his recent research findings on the expectations, motivations and satisfaction of students participating in online learning.

Gordana Copic of the Office of Educational Assessment also presented a study comparing learning outcomes in online and face-to-face classes, which demonstrated very similar performance between the two groups.

A video recording of the awards presentation and technology showcase can be viewed online at this web site.

Photo by Duane Perry