Established in 2021 by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, the Excellence in Online Teaching Award recognizes faculty who excel in online teaching by utilizing best practices for online course delivery.
The recipients of this year’s Excellence in Online Teaching Awards will be recognized on Thursday, April 21 during a reception in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium from 3 to 5 p.m.
Instructor, Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
For years, Linh Nguyen has been the primary instructor for CHEM110, the introductory course with the highest enrollment in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
“Student success in this course is paramount to the department’s undergraduate mission, as the course serves as a prerequisite for a variety of NIU programs and is our main credit‐hour producer,” said Victor Ryzhov, professor and director of graduate studies for the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry.
“Given the importance CHEM 110 to our department and the success that Dr. Nguyen brings by teaching it online, I cannot think of a more deserving candidate for this award,” continued Ryzhov.
Nguyen commitment to student success is apparent. She has attended several workshops hosted by the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning to improve her skills in online course delivery.
“My teaching principles boil down to my trust that students have the desire to learn and my job is to facilitate their learning to the best of their ability in their current living situations,” says Nguyen.
For Nguyen those principles are put into practice through her course design. The course content, learning activities and assessments are strongly aligned with learning objectives while also providing students with flexibility. Learners have the option to learn from text, animated videos, pre-recorded videos or attending live synchronous sessions. To foster student to student interaction, she uses the group function on Blackboard, randomly assigning students to study groups of five to six, giving them access to a variety of collaborative tools.
In addition, Nguyen is also an accessible, compassionate and caring educator who identifies additional resources and reaches out to help students in need. She provides rapid feedback, setting the expectation that her students will hear back from her within 24 hours given they reach out to her during a workday.
“Given the unprecedented pandemic, I included a section on Blackboard about anxiety with active links to student counseling services, the NIU Protecting the Pack website and the DeKalb County Community Garden Mobile Food Pantry food distribution schedule,” said Nguyen, understanding that students’ needs have been significant and exacerbated. “Sometimes the reasons behind a student’s poor academic performance are mind-blowing!”
For Michael Archambault, Nguyen’s care and compassion made an impact. As a nontraditional student, Archambault was nervous when he returned to the classroom after a twenty-year hiatus with little computer knowledge and having never taken an online course.
“Dr. Nguyen was always available to work with me anytime I needed an extra hand, helping regain my confidence,” recalled Archambault. “Dr. Nguyen has truly impressed me by the effort she puts forth for her students and in the compassionate way it is always delivered.”
“Dr. Nguyen has encouraged and inspired me to shoot for the stars, to believe in myself, and provided me all the tools necessary for my continued success,” continued Archambault.
Assistant Professor, Department of Anthropology
Dana Bardolph is described as organized, consistent, inclusive, supportive and collaborative—all qualities that she embeds into her synchronous and asynchronous online anthropology courses.
“Dana is committed to encouraging women and BIPOC students to engage with her classes, with articles on race, gender and social justice in archaeology. Her guest speakers have included women, Latina, black and Native American researchers,” said Leila Porter, chair of the Department of Anthropology and Presidential Engagement Professor. “As a result, students can see that archaeology is a dynamic field that thrives from diverse perspectives including their own.”
One of the courses taught by Bardolph is ANTH 210, Exploring Archaeology. This course is an introductory class required of anthropology majors and is also part of the general education “Creativity and Critical Analysis Knowledge Domain.” As a result, the class generally contains a mix of students who are very interested in studying archaeology and others who are simply taking the course to meet a requirement. The student evaluations of ANTH 210 for the last 3 years are consistently excellent from this whole array of students.
Bardolph skills as an educator provide the foundation for students in her classes to succeed.
“I never had issues finding assignments, due dates, or resources which took away a lot of the stress from being not only a new college student, but a new student in the online learning space,” said Ashley Barry, an undergraduate Honors student. “In the way of resources, Dr. Bardolph provided a variety of links and handouts to encourage students to get involved on campus and utilize the programs made available to us by the university.”
As an Honors student, Barry was required to complete an additional research paper on an anthropological subject of her choice and Professor Bardolph mentored her throughout the process.
“When all was said and done, I received an A+ on the paper, and Dr. Bardolph’s words of affirmation inspired me to submit my essay to an academic journal for consideration,” recalled Barry. “Lo and behold, the journal accepted my essay, leading me to become a published researcher as a freshman in undergraduate studies. I could not have accomplished this by any means without the continuous support, encouragement, and guidance from Dr. Bardolph along the way.”
Professor, Department of History
Trude Jacobsen is known for using gaming platforms such as Minecraft and Roblox, virtual reality equipment and other multimedia tools to bring new and creative approaches to learning that reach a broad group of students.
Colleague Eric Hall describes Trude Jacobsen’s online teaching methods as an “imaginative and inventive use of multimedia technology employing many of the best tools available to online instructors to create innovative, interactive learning activities.”
Hall continues, “In addition to bringing attention to the diverse needs of learners, Dr. Jacobsen’s online classes are smart, engaging, and innovative, while also maintaining the clarity needed for students in the expectations she sets for writing assignments, synchronous online discussions, and students’ required use of multimedia in her classes.”
To know that Jacobsen’s classes are engaging, one needs to look no further than students’ evaluations of her courses, which are consistently rated among the best courses offer in the Department of History.
“By drawing from scholarly articles, primary source documents, films, documentaries, and recorded lectures, Dr. Jacobsen’s thoughtfully organized courses reflect her passion for engaging with students and making history courses interactive and captivating,” said Chloe Green, a master’s student in Asian History.
“Beyond her role as an instructor, she has emphasized the significance of community among students, which plays a critical role in the level of engagement in her courses,” continued Green. “Dr. Jacobsen’s synchronous weekly live sessions, innovative assessment methods and welcoming nature represent her determination to offer students meaningful online courses that broaden their ability to engage in historical thought and practice.”