Award Winners Focus on Collaboration, Communication, and Personalization to Drive Student Success
D2L, the EdTech company that created Brightspace, the world’s first truly integrated learning platform (ILP)—today announced the winners of the 2014 Desire2EXCEL Awards at FUSION 2014, the company’s annual users conference being held this week in Nashville.
Launched in 2005, the Desire2EXCEL Awards are given to individuals, groups, or organizations that have displayed exemplary ingenuity and creativity in empowering students to achieve their academic goals. Collaboration, communication, and personalization were key themes among the 2014 winners.
“This year’s Desire2EXCEL Award winners showcase what the future of education will look like,” said John Baker, President and CEO, D2L. “D2L clients are inventing spectacular methods of student engagement that help take learning to the next level. We’re thrilled to recognize their efforts and encourage their continued innovation.”
Desire2EXCEL Innovation Award Winners:
- Shaun Iles, Professor of Sociology and Sustainability, Mohawk College
- Rick Tanski, Principal and Michael Arsenault, Online Curriculum Development Coordinator, Academy Online High School
The Desire2EXCEL Innovation Award is given to the person or organization that leverages creative methods or technologies to address important student needs. This year’s recipients are Professor Shaun Iles of Mohawk College and Rick Tanski and Michael Arsenault of Academy Online High School.
Using tools within the Brightspace™ Online and Blended Learning solution, Professor Shaun Iles is gamifying his sustainability course at Ontario-based Mohawk College to make learning more engaging while empowering his students to succeed on their own terms. Through adaptive learning strategies and multiple opportunities for collaboration and discussion, students can master material at their own pace and are regularly challenged with surprise opportunities to achieve bonus marks, helping them stay interested and engaged.
Academy Online High School (AOHS) in Colorado Springs is a recipient of the Desire2EXCEL Innovation Award for its use of predictive analytics to help high school students avoid potential pitfalls, achieve personal academic goals, and successfully meet all required state standards. Principal Rick Tanski, Online Curriculum Development Coordinator Michael Arsenault, and staff all tap into the Brightspace platform to effectively visualize a learner’s progress while also identifying learners who may be at risk of not accomplishing defined learning goals. This enables AOHS to quickly deliver constructive feedback to students, parents, and teachers in a more meaningful and impactful manner.
Desire2EXCEL Collaboration Award Winner(s):
Harrisburg Area Community College’s:
- Dr. Julia Grace J. Jester, Interim Department Chair for Social Sciences
- Matthew Harris, Chair of Assessment and Assistant Professor of Humanities
- Jason Beaudin, Assistant Professor of English and Humanities and Chair of the Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence
- Rick Albright, Interim Associate Dean for Academic Affairs, Kathleen Conley, Assistant Professor, Library & Information Resources
- Dave Wartell, Coordinator, Center for Design & Instruction
- Nicole L. Ernst, Associate Professor, Geospatial Technology, Cynthia Schanke, Instructional Technology Analyst, Lebanon and Virtual Campus
The Desire2EXCEL Collaboration Award winner(s) must display creative synchronous or asynchronous collaboration within a course, department, institution, external agency, or corporation.
Harrisburg Area Community College (HACC), Central Pennsylvania’s Community College, wins this year’s award for its multidisciplinary course called Zombies in Contemporary Culture. Nine faculty members across five disciplines and seven different specialties collaborated to build a blended, multidisciplinary course centered on surviving a “Zombie apocalypse.” Brightspace allowed them to link together various emerging technologies, such as podcasts, discussion boards, virtual classroom space, and Skype™ chats, weaving a main narrative across a variety of subject matters including microbiology, physiology, and philosophy. The technology enabled faculty to design academic content that was rigorous yet engaging and helped to foster communication, responsiveness and collaboration among students and faculty alike.
Desire2EXCEL Impact Award Winner:
- Dr. Jaclyn Broadbent, Deakin University
Dr. Jaclyn Broadbent, a Lecturer in Health Psychology at Deakin University in Australia, was selected for the Desire2EXCEL Impact award for transforming the challenge of teaching 2,100 diverse students into an opportunity to reach every learner. It was a priority for Dr. Broadbent to provide students with timely, quality feedback, as the rate of feedback can heavily influence student engagement and outcomes. She leveraged the multimedia tools in Brightspace to create Model Demonstrate, which allows her to deliver personalized, audio-visual feedback to students with increased frequency and timeliness. Dr. Broadbent also uses Brightspace Intelligent Agents tool to send personalized emails to students, updating them on progress and highlighting any needed improvements.
Desire2EXCEL Student Award Winner
- Ryan Misura, University of Wisconsin Colleges (UW)
The winner of the Desire2EXCEL Student Award is the University of Wisconsin Colleges (UW – Colleges) student Ryan Misura. While working at the Central IT office for UW-Colleges, Ryan Misura collaborated with Instructional Technologist Patricia Fellows to develop a web application using a Valence API that gives online staff a much more efficient means to create personal discussion areas (PDAs). UW-Colleges students have come to rely on PDAs as the best way to get in contact with their instructor to discuss coursework, assignments, and questions. The app saves staff hours of work each semester by allowing instructors to generate PDAs for a single class or for multiple classes at the same time, instead of manually creating a PDA for
each of the 4,900 students each and every semester—a task which previously took a dedicated group of staff three or four days to create.
Desire2EXCEL Accessibility Award Winner
Stephen F. Austin State University’s:
- Janet Kamps, Coordinator, Distance Education, Office of Instructional Technology
- Randy McDonald, Director, Center for Teaching & Learning
The Desire2EXCEL Accessibility Award honors the institution that is wholly committed to educating all of its students, regardless of physical or mental challenges. This year’s winner is Stephen F. Austin State University (SFASU) in Texas. In an initiative led by Janet Kamps, Coordinator of Distance Education, Office of Instructional Technology and Randy McDonald, Director, Center for Teaching & Learning, the university demonstrated excellence in online course material and curriculum accessibility.
SFASU is able to provide immediate accessible support to students and faculty within the Brightspace platform. To do this, they conduct rigorous faculty training on curriculum design through the platform and constantly collaborate with the university’s Office of Disability Services to ensure the needs of each and every student are met. The school has also added accessibility to its accreditation criteria in order to maintain its exceptionally high standards.