Professor Michael Twidale, program director for the iSchool's MS in information management, is the 2017 recipient of the Outstanding Information Science Teacher Award from the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T). The award recognizes Twidale's unique teaching contributions through his methods of explaining highly technical material to students in various learning environments.
According to nominator Linda C. Smith, professor and associate dean for academic programs, Twidale "has been an outstanding information science teacher throughout his twenty years at Illinois, with his impact extending literally around the world. In courses such as Interfaces to Information Systems, Entrepreneurial IT Design, and Museum Informatics, whether face to face, online, or hybrid, he consistently performs as a master teacher with a strong commitment to students."
Twidale regularly appears on the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent issued by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus each semester. In addition, for his accomplishments in teaching online, he was recognized in 2009 with the Campus Award for Excellence in Off-Campus Teaching.
"While mentored by him, I've seen Professor Twidale teach in various contexts—instructing in class, leading workshops, and one-on-one advising," said Peter Organisciak (PhD '15), assistant professor in the Department of Research Methods and Information Science at the University of Denver. "Throughout this time, he's demonstrated creativity, engagement, and inclusiveness with remarkable consistency."
Twidale is an expert in computer-supported cooperative work, collaborative technologies in digital libraries and museums, user interface design and evaluation, information visualization, and museum informatics. In her letter of nomination, Smith notes that Twidale considers his role as a teacher as designing learning experiences, an activity similar to the design of user experiences that he studies and undertakes in his own research.
"There is no better way to learn a new technology than through experimentation, and Mike has an amazing ability to provide his students with the kind of 'sandbox' they need to play around with new technologies safely, without the fear that something will go wrong. His students experience a kind of 'learning by doing' that provides them with the confidence to master new skills while also producing an end product or outcome that they can proudly show off to their friends, family, and colleagues. I find myself using these same techniques in my own courses to help my own students develop new skills and engage with new concepts," said Paul Marty (PhD '02), professor in the School of Information at Florida State University.
Likewise, Andrea Thomer (PhD '17), assistant professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan, confirmed the far-reaching impact of Twidale's efforts. "Mike is one of the finest educators I have ever had the honor of learning from and collaborating with. His teaching style informs my teaching, and my research, every single day. He has helped shape scores of library and information scientists into the creative information professionals they are today."
Twidale will be presented with the award at the 2017 ASIS&T Annual Meeting, which will be held from October 27 to November 1 in Washington D.C.
"I am thrilled to receive this award from my professional association. It is an honor to be recognized for my efforts in developing innovative methods to engage and inspire students," Twidale said.