SJSU SLIS Instructors Honored with Award for Online Teaching Excellence


The Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) consortium recognized three faculty members from the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University with a 2013 Excellence in Online Teaching Award. Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, Dr. Michael Stephens, and Melba Tomeo were all recipients of this national award that honors the accomplishments of online educators.

Dr. Michelle Holschuh Simmons, who teaches courses in information literacy and information resources, received the award for the fourth time. Students who nominated her for the award said Simmons fosters a sense of community and connectedness in her online courses.

In her information literacy course, which emphasizes teaching strategies, Simmons provides an exemplary model of what a personable and dedicated educator looks like. “I feel like she set me up for success,” said one of her students.

“In online classes it can be difficult to feel connected to the instructor,” said another student, “but Michelle’s humor and thoughtfulness made me feel as if I was in a classroom, face-to-face with her. I enjoyed Michelle’s teaching style and class so much that it’s helped me to refine my direction with the hope of pursuing an instruction-intensive position upon graduation.”

Dr. Michael Stephens teaches courses that explore emerging technology, participatory library services, and technology-based learning. According to an award nominee, Stephens provides the right mix of guidance and autonomy to his students. “I felt encouraged but unconstrained and excited about everything I worked on,” one of his students shared.

Stephens has been recognized multiple times by WISE for his ability to bring authenticity, as well as a vast knowledge of technology trends, to his online courses.

Melba Tomeo teaches a course about the history of youth literature. Students who nominated Tomeo for the award said she creates a dynamic and interactive environment.

Tomeo covers a wide range of topics and responds to every discussion board post and assignment in a thoughtful and meaningful manner. She also encourages her students to continuously interact and learn from one another, which is particularly noteworthy in a fully online course, where students may live miles apart from each other.

“She demonstrates a genuine passion for youth literature,” said one student, “which is very infectious!”

All three instructors teach in the ALA-accredited Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program at SJSU SLIS, which is delivered exclusively online.

The awards were announced by WISE at the Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) 2014 conference in Philadelphia, PA. On their website, WISE briefly profiled each award recipient and shared recipients’ tips for other online educators.

As a member of the WISE consortium, SJSU SLIS students can take online courses from LIS graduate schools in the United States and Canada. The school’s faculty can also take advantage of the online pedagogy resources offered by WISE. For more information regarding the school’s collaboration with WISE, visit Web-based Information Science Education (WISE).