Associate Professor Michael Twidale has received the 2009 Campus Award for Excellence in Off-Campus Teaching given by the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign.
The selection committee called Twidale's course Interfaces to Information Systems "an outstanding learning experience for students and a model for online teaching. The committee was also impressed by the fact that students have been inspired to continue their work with you on campus and to disseminate their work at conferences, and to use what they've learned quickly in professional settings."
The course investigates issues of usability and design surrounding public use of information systems, such as web search engines and bibliographic databases. Twidale has taught this course in the LEEP program, the distance education option at GSLIS, since 1998.
Associate Dean Linda C. Smith, herself a recipient of this award in 2007, said, "Professor Twidale approaches teaching as designing learning experiences, leading one student to comment that '˜each session was an unmissable adventure in learning by doing as we performed in-class analysis exercises of an array of online and other design challenges.' He is an early adopter of new technologies and explores how best to integrate them into the LEEP environment. Leading by example, he encourages other LEEP instructors to expand their repertoire of techniques for teaching with technology."
In addition to interface design and evaluation, Twidale's research interests include collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums; visualization of information and algorithms; and the development of interfaces to support the articulation of plans, goals, and beliefs.
"It is a great honor to receive this award. Just like the learning experience we provide to our students, teaching in LEEP is a collaborative, not an isolated activity. I have learned a lot from the techniques developed by other instructors and shared through informal chats and LEEP retreats," said Twidale.
He continued, "I should also note the outstanding technical support we receive from the Instructional Technology and Design Office. A team of full time professionals and graduate students works on managing our online teaching infrastructure, handling all the various major and minor glitches that inevitably occur, and helping our students with technical access problems. The technological safety net that they provide frees me as an instructor to concentrate on the learning I want to facilitate, and to explore and innovate with new applications."
"As I continue along my own path as instructor and information provider, that spirit of investigation, analysis, and experimentation I learned from Professor Twidale's course continues to reverberate," said Ella Delaney, master's student and librarian at Chicago's Flashpoint Academy.
Twidale will be presented the award at the Celebration for Teaching Excellence reception held April 29, 2009. In addition to a $5000 personal award, the University will present GSLIS with $1000 to support the LEEP program.