For the second year in a row, a Texas State faculty member has been selected as a winner of the international Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA). Dr. Niem Huynh is the winner of the 2011 award in the Higher Education: Face-to-Face teaching category for her use of Sakai (TRACS) and other technologies in an introductory geography class. The category covers undergraduate and graduate level courses in which classes meets face-to-face during a semester and in which technology is used to supplement classroom-based teaching and learning.
Dr. Huynh’s winning course is World Geography (GEO 1310). The design of the course was inspired by her research interests in geographic education while the integration of Sakai (TRACS) tools and a range of multimedia came from a summer technology seminar offered at Texas State University in Instructional Technologies Support (ITS).
Dr. Huynh’s aim was to promote geographic learning and the visualization of geographic themes by pairing TRACS with external technology (clickers, Google Earth) to produce constructive multimedia instruction. The course is modeled after the Framework for 21st Century Learning (Partnership for 21st Century Skills 2010). The intent of the course was to impart core knowledge, develop learning and innovation skills, enhance information, media, and technological skills, as well as life and career skills within the framework of geography in an uncertain world.
TRACS was a central learning technology in the class. Dr. Huynh used multiple TRACS tools to promote student engagement and community building (Wiki), to provide structured learning materials (Learning Modules) as well as for communication (Announcements), and assessment (Assignments). A student-led learning community (student to student and instructor to students) was established through the use of Announcements, Mailtool and the comment feature of the Wiki.
In one wiki assignment, students researched health issues in their own geographic region, the San Marcos/Austin area, and then created videos that demonstrated their findings. Student reaction to the course was largely positive.
Dr. Huynh who was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Geography at Texas State, begins a new job this month as a senior researcher at the Association of American Geographers (AAG) in Washington D.C.
The formal awards ceremony took place June 15, 2011 at the Sakai conference in Los Angeles, CA. Although Dr. Huynh was unable to attend, she created a presentation on video. In her presentation, which you can view below, she discusses the design of the class and the assignments students carried out:
Dr. Scott Bowman in Criminal Justice was last year's winner of the award. The Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award honors faculty members for innovative teaching practices and is sponsored by IBM, rSmart and John Wiley & Sons.