Instructors Garner Award for Online Teaching Excellence


Five faculty members from the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) at San José State University received a 2012 Excellence in Online Teaching Award from the Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) consortium. Lori Lindberg, Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Dr. Michael Stephens, Gawain Weaver and Patty Wong were among the 11 recipients of the national award, which recognizes the accomplishments of online educators.

Lori Lindberg uses real-life workplace examples in her courses on archival methods. “Complex technical courses presented online succeed best when the instructor is consistent, organized and prepared,” she said. Lindberg makes her course materials available in a variety of formats so students can access them anywhere, online or offline. One student described her teaching style as meticulous and thorough, adding that she makes learning interesting and approachable.

Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, who received the award for the third time, structures her courses on information literacy to foster personal connections and a sense of community among her students. Simmons “provides an innovative learning environment where students can participate in ways they feel most comfortable, and can experiment with new learning activities to stretch beyond our comfort zones,” one of her students said.

Dr. Michael Stephens tells students in his courses on emerging trends and technology that learning is an ongoing process vital to keeping up with technological and societal change. He keeps that in mind in his own teaching and use of technology, learning from his students, colleagues and online networks. But in teaching, it’s also important to nurture the human connection, he said. “Bring yourself to your online teaching – share, be authentic and connect with students via the heart and the keyboard.”         

Gawain Weaver incorporates live lectures as much as possible in his photographic preservation courses to provide classroom-like interaction with students. Video is another important teaching tool, he explained. “I use the video to show different photographic processes and to demonstrate how to examine them to observe their unique characteristics.” Students said he’s extremely helpful and quick to respond to questions, and that his enthusiasm for his subject is catching.

Patty Wong gives students in her grant writing courses a chance to work with actual clients to research grants and write proposals. “The student benefits from real-world experience working with an agency, determining client needs, and integrating practice with theory within a deadline,” she said. Aware that some online students live outside the U.S., she seeks out resources and foundations that can be of help to them in their communities. Her students said she’s an involved and inspirational teacher.

All five teach in the ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at SJSU SLIS. However, the award is based on nominations from WISE students at a school other than the instructors’ home institution.

WISE announced the awards at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) 2013 conference, held Jan. 22-25 in Seattle.

As members of the WISE consortium, SJSU SLIS students can take online courses from other ALA-accredited programs. The School’s faculty can also take advantage of its online pedagogy resources.

For more information about the School’s collaboration with WISE, visit Web-based Information Science Education (WISE).