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New award will recognize excellent online teaching

February 3, 2021

There’s an impressive new faculty award on campus.

NIU’s Excellence in Online Teaching Award both encourages and honors outstanding online and hybrid teaching. Beginning this semester, one to three award recipients will be recognized annually for their commitment to excellence in online teaching, course development and student engagement.

The honor will become a permanent fixture in the series of spring awards.

“This past year we saw an incredible team effort on the part of faculty, staff and instructors as we shifted, out of necessity, to emergency remote teaching and learning,” Provost Beth Ingram said. “However, we’ve been successfully teaching highly developed online and hybrid courses at NIU for many years, and we have been cited externally for excellence in this area.

“The past 12 months only served to highlight the need for our campus community to recognize the time and talents required by our colleagues to deliver excellence in a virtual classroom,” she added.

In line with other NIU teaching awards, award recipients will receive a plaque and one-time stipend of $2,000. Friday, March 5, is the deadline for submitting nomination forms (see award website) to the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning (CITL).

The award was established by the Office of the Provost and CITL, in collaboration with the Innovative Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee and the Online Learning Advisory Council.

“We have many faculty and teaching staff across the university who have been pioneers in online teaching and learning,” said Jason Rhode, CITL executive director. “This new university-level award raises the profile of and highlights the importance of this work moving forward. It also signals our institutional commitment to excellence in online and hybrid teaching.”

All who teach online or hybrid courses (tenured and tenure-track faculty members, instructors, and teaching staff) are eligible for the award. Self-nominations are allowed and encouraged.

Nominations will be considered by a review panel chaired by Rhode, with its members selected from the Innovative Teaching and Learning Advisory Committee and Online Learning Advisory Council

“Faculty and staff will have the opportunity to demonstrate how they’ve followed NIU’s online course essentials in their online course designs, as well as share how they’ve incorporated online teaching principles for success in online course delivery,” Rhode said.

Nominees will demonstrate:

  • Exceptional effort to ensure the quality of the students’ online learning environment.
  • High standards for the rigor and currency of course content and the level of student performance.
  • Innovation in online course development and delivery of for-credit courses.
  • Direct and significant impact upon the involvement with online students.
  • Demonstrated dedication to enhancing online teaching skills, improving online curriculum and/or advancing research opportunities in the area of online education.
  • Evidence that the candidate’s contributions have enhanced effectiveness in the online learning environment.

Award recipients will be required to present a campus-wide seminar describing their approach to online teaching, with emphasis on teaching philosophy and innovative pedagogical approaches.

“The seminar offers award recipients an opportunity to share their innovative approaches to teaching more broadly with their faculty colleagues,” Rhode said. “It also will provide another way to connect with and learn from one another.”

The awards will be presented at the April 22 Faculty Awards Ceremony. If you have more questions, contact Rhode at [email protected].