Distinguished Digital Education Award Overview

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The Distinguished Digital Education Award honors faculty members with outstanding achievements using digital education tools and pedagogical techniques in online, hybrid, or face-to-face teaching. Recipients will be recognized for: (1) presenting content and instructional materials in a variety of ways in order to engage students and meet a diversity of learning needs; (2) developing learning activities to facilitate and support active learning that encourages frequent and ongoing student-to-student and student-to-instructor interaction; (3) providing students with ongoing feedback and a variety of assessments on their learning as well as on their participation and contributions to the course; and (4) contributing innovations to advance digital education pedagogy. One award is given annually.

2019 Award Recipient, Jeffrey R. Bouwman

Jeffrey R. Bouwman, lecturer II of science education and educational technology in the Department of Education in the College of Education, Health, and Human Services (CEHHS), is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Digital Education Award.

Since the winter of 2011, Jeff Bouwman has taught a variety of educational technology and science education classes for CEHHS as an adjunct instructor. In each of the classes he teaches, he draws on his experience as a middle school science teacher to model effective pedagogical strategies and the mindful integration of technology for his students. He presents content and instructional

materials in ways that engage all learners. The following comment is emblematic of the kind of feedback he routinely gets on his course evaluations. “Not only did I learn how to use a number of technology tools, but I was taught how to use them in the classroom. He was good at answering questions and was very helpful. I am no longer worried about how I will use technology in the classroom.” Another

student wrote, “I like that we learned different techniques for teaching science, like how to integrate technology to teach a science lesson.”

Jeff promotes active learning with his students through the use of tools such as GradeCraft, Kahoot!, and Quizizz. He has students create QR Code scavenger hunts and introduces them to tools such as Blendspace and Google Classroom while showing them how he uses these online learning environments in his own teaching. He models the use of technology for classroom management by using ClassDojo with his classes and regularly utilizes Zoom to facilitate webinars for his students. Jeff shows students how to use iPads and the GLOBE Observer app to take cloud and land cover measurements and has them complete Protocol eTraining through the GLOBE Program so they can develop lesson plans that integrate these different protocols and technologies.

Students appreciate learning how Jeff uses these different technologies in his own classroom as evidenced by this comment: “Between his thorough subject matter expertise, his well-paced and individualized teaching methods, and  his mentorship, he created a course that not only developed our knowledge of educational technology, but also developed our skills as teachers and human beings. I cannot express my gratitude enough to Professor Bouwman for

everything he has taught me this semester.” His teaching has even transformed students who enter his class with an aversion toward technology, as indicated by this student: “Honestly, the best professor I’ve had so far, and I came into this class hating technology. Now, I love using it and learning new tips and tricks that will enhance the education I teach as well as everything else.”

The University of Michigan-Dearborn salutes Mr. Bouwman and proudly presents to him the Distinguished Digital Education Award.

2018 Award Recipient, Marouane Kessentini

Dr. Marouane Kessentini, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer and Information Science, in the College of Engineering and Computer Science is this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Digital Education Award.

The nominating and supporting letters for Marouane’s award were so uniformly eloquent and complete that improving upon them would have been futile.  Please permit me to barrow massively from three sections of the letter by Professor Qiang Zhu, Chair of Marouane’s department:

  1. One of the most impressive and unique digital education initiatives by Dr. Kessentini was to offer computer programming to a group of blind and visually impaired high school students.  He observed that blind students have difficulty integrating into workplaces composed mainly of sighted persons, and was aware that, while specialized technologies and courses designed specifically for blind students are useful, they carry a risk of inadvertently isolating these students if the technologies are not sufficiently similar to those having been used by sighted programmers in the students’ future workplaces.  To tackle this challenge, Dr. Kessentini proposed a creative and novel approach using online education tools to instruct blind high school students in a collaborative environment with sighted students who already have programming experience.

Specific objectives of Dr. Kessentini’s project were to simulate a workplace situation in which a blind programmer is hired at an engineering firm, and to prepare that programmer to navigate the complex transition to this new environment. As an additional benefit, sighted students would learn how to communicate programming knowledge to blind programmers via accessibility technologies.Dr. Kessentini received an NSF grant and two internal grants, one from The Hub for Teaching & Learning Resources and the other from a program within College of Engineering and Computer Science, to support his project.Experience from this collaborative digital education research served, first, as a basis for eliminating technical barriers to participation by the blind students, and second, as a model for training blind students in collaborative workplaces.

Selected CIS 565 and CIS 580 online lectures, facilitated by Skype and YouTube, were live streamed to high school students at the Indiana School for the Blind & Visually Impaired (ISBVI) and to the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired (GDABVI). These students worked on small programming projects designed to the students' individual tastes and abilities. Progress was communicated remotely via videoconferencing tools. Many of the blind students developed an interest in computer science as a career, and the experience of these online lectures will help them transition to a university program, we hope to a program at UM-Dearborn. Our students gained skills in collaborating with persons with visual disabilities, helping them to overcome a bias that blind programmers are known to face in industry.

  1. Dr. Kessentini has developed new courses with online sections (e.g., CIS 580, CIS 376 and CIS 5570) and adapted existing courses with new or enhanced online sections (e.g., CIS565).  Content is always presented in an engaging and interactive way to meet diversity of learning objectives.  For example, in both CIS 580 and CIS 565, he invited distinguished speakers from leading software companies (e.g., IBM, Microsoft, Google, and ABB) via online software tools, such as Skype, to share their experience managing the growing complexity of software systems and understanding the practical aspects of software engineering.  Students were pleased to have this unique opportunity to virtually meet, engage, and interact with experienced industrial managers, programmers, and software testers.  Their feedback was that these were among their most valuable and enjoyable learning experiences at UM-Dearborn.  Both CIS 565 and CIS 580 have become popular in the recent years with both regular and online sections being full each time they are offered.  For these courses, Marouane received teaching evaluations ranging from 4.88 to 5.0 out of 5.0, which are among the top evaluations for his department.
  2. To provide students with a mechanism for immediate feedback on their learning, Dr. Kessentini uses a technology called ResponseWare, a software that replaces hardware Clickers.  An obstacle to using Clickers in the classroom is their cost to students.  ResponseWare offers instant feedback by allowing students to use their phones to respond to multiple choice questions.

Dr. Kessentini has made unique, innovative, and socially meaningful contributions to digital engineering education.  As Dr. Zhu concluded, Marouane “is an outstanding teacher with high energy, creativity, and devotion.”  It is my pleasure to see him receive the 2018 Distinguished Digital Education Award.

2017 Award Recipient, Joy Beatty

Dr. Joy Beatty, associate professor in the College of Business, is the recipient of the Distinguished Digital Education Award. 

Dr. Beatty has taught courses on organizational behavior since joining the university in the fall of 2004.  She is a widely recognized expert in pedagogy in the field of organizational behavior as evidenced by her service as the Associate Editor for the Journal of Management Education and election to the board of the Organizational Behavior Teaching Society.  Professor Beatty is an innovative educator who has developed a number of new courses on campus and who continually works to adopt new teaching practices and ways of engaging her students.  In recent years, she has focused her tremendous strengths in the area on the design, implementation, and delivery of an online graduate-level course on organizational behavior.

Students are very favorably impressed by Dr. Beatty’s online courses.  They enjoy the interaction with each other and with Dr. Beatty and find the videos that she uses to deliver course content to be very effective.  Even students who were initially reluctant to take an online course have found Dr. Beatty’s course to be effective and enjoyable.  One student writing to support Dr. Beatty’s nomination for the award noted that students are “challenged in this course not just to read and participate in discussions but to also be part of a distance learning exercise, Tinsel Town. This activity provided the class the challenge of being part of a team with people outside of our university, even outside of the country. The learnings tied in well to what we were studying around how distance can enhance the bottom line but at times can create difficulties such as time zone differences, unique levels of engagement and potentially missing information.”  A second student praised Dr. Beatty’s “exceptional attention to each student’s development.” 

Colleagues are also impressed with Dr. Beatty’s approach to digital education.  A colleague who reviewed Dr. Beatty’s online course in detail noted that “it makes you feel like she is right there with you.  . . . Going through one of her online lectures makes you feel as close as possible as if you were in the classroom with her by your side.”  A second colleague noted that “the course content and structure clearly represents Prof. Beatty’s teaching philosophy. Prof. Beatty believes that learning is an active process that involves participation, reflection, and critical inquiry. This philosophy is embedded in the learning structure that Prof. Beatty has built” in her online course.

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