By Jess Marvin
The recent Southwest Technology Showcase proved to be eventful in many ways for Instructor Roxanne Stansbury. Capturing top honors in the Best in Content category, Stansbury later went on to receive the Showcase’s Best in Show award for her project presentation, Overcoming Hurdles and Stress of Group Projects with Wimba.
Stansbury collaborated with fellow instructor Marilyn Berry in the NSC School of Education to introduce new forms of technology into the course, Teaching Literature EDRL 407. Stansbury’s Best in Content award highlighted her achievement as an educator who addresses a unique challenge in the classroom through the innovative use of technology. In the Best in Show category, Stansbury competed against a field of faculty and staff that had already won awards in the areas of assessment, design, and delivery. Said Stansbury, it was so validating for Marilyn and me to receive acknowledgement for our perseverance in improving the online delivery of how to teach literature.
Stansbury, who serves as the Assistant Dean in the School of Education, set out to develop a better way for her students to work collaboratively and communicate during group projects. Referring to the inspiration for her winning project, Stansbury explained, Group projects always seem to bring about negative feelings from students. I wanted to find a solution that would make group projects more positive and enjoyable for students as well as instructors, while holding the students more accountable for their contributions. Through the use of Wimba Voice and Wimba Classroom, two classroom media formats used to promote a more effective model for communication, Stansbury was able to solve the issues and change the negative perceptions often associated with group project assignments.
A strong believer in the power of well-developed pedagogy, Stansbury sees her recognition as a personal affirmation. Winning this award makes the time and effort that Marilyn and I put into honing this art of online pedagogy worthwhile, she said. And while Stansbury’s students benefited from the new online approach through her project, she believes their involvement in her project carries a deeper lesson. Said Stansbury, I think it is important to show our students that even as teachers, the learning and discovery process never ends. Marilyn Berry provided a similar perspective, offering that going outside our educational comfort zone is never easy but to understand the challenges that face our students today we must push ourselves to embrace new methods and expand our abilities. As teachers, we must demonstrate our own willingness to be positive and persistent in the face of new challenges which can be a more powerful lesson for our students than any content taught in the classroom.
Altogether, NSC put forward a strong showing at the Southwest Technology Showcase with six award-eligible presentations and four poster presentations coming from college faculty and staff. I’m so proud of the collective effort that led to NSC’s representation of a strong online pedagogy at the conference, said Stansbury. This strong showing, Stansbury believes, is attributed to NSC’s Technology Fellows Institute (TFI), an innovative program NSC President Lesley Di Mare instituted two years ago.
Stansbury cites her own positive experience of being a part of TFI as empowering her to implement new technologies in her classes. Sam McCool, NSC’s Manager of Instructional Technology and leader for the TFI program, spoke of his experiences working with Stansbury, who was a member of the institute’s inaugural class. I remember when Roxanne began with TFI, and she did not think she was capable of competing at a regional or national level. I’m so proud she’s been recognized for her achievements at this level, and I look forward to her taking this project to national conferences, said Mr. McCool.
Echoing Mr. McCool’s thoughts, Stansbury cites her experiences with the TFI as being a pivotal experience for her. Before TFI, I wouldn’t have thought I could be using tools such as Wimba in my classes so successfully. TFI really helps you become a leader amongst your peers and students.
It was Mr. McCool’s guidance in the TFI that Stansbury notes as being a driving force in NSC’s strong success at the Showcase, bolstering the institution’s outlook on providing cutting-edge approaches to technology usage in the classroom. Under Sam’s leadership, we have been able to provide a growing infrastructure for professional development as well as a strong support system in technology, said Stansbury.
Stansbury has indeed become a leader in new classroom technologies and has shared the skills she learned during the TFI to fellow instructors within the School of Education. Berry, who participated in Stansbury’s training, commends the college’s efforts to foster professional development opportunities cultivated through such programs. To be a quality online educator is a craft all its own, and the time and effort NSC has taken to help me develop that craft is truly commendable. Roxanne Stansbury and the School of Education staff have done a great job setting a standard of excellent online teaching and then giving us the tools and skills necessary to meet that standard, said Berry.
Stansbury’s recognition at the Southwest Technology Showcase is a testament to her dedication and innovative approach she fosters for her students as well as her peers. Referring to NSC’s cutting edge outlook to using technology to enhance the educational experience, Stansbury states, I see NSC making a path for other institutions to follow.