Distance learners have many different reasons for choosing to study online: Convenience. Career advancement. Personal growth. When online students choose the University of Missouri, they get the added benefit of skilled, innovative and caring instructors.   

This week’s annual Celebration of Teaching conference at MU gives the campus an opportunity to recognize these faculty members for their unique approaches to teaching online. 

As part of this year’s celebration, Mizzou Online inaugurates two awards for outstanding instructors.

Award for Excellence in Online Class Facilitation

The first award, for Excellence in Online Class Facilitation, recognizes a faculty member who excels in leading an online learning experience that supports high-quality student-to-student and faculty-to-student interaction, increases social rapport among students and requires students to work together to achieve learning outcomes.

The recipient of this award is Jill Ostrow, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum in the College of Education. Ostrow also serves as the director of distance programs for the department. 

Ostrow was nominated by four fellow instructors for her work in facilitating the  course sequence Practicum in Child Study I & II. In their united letter of recommendation, the faculty members praised Ostrow for integrating well-selected readings, choice, invitations for reflection and relevant assignments into her courses. 

“Dr. Ostrow provides the kind of explicit feedback that encourages reflection, growth and confidence,” the faculty members wrote. “She provides feedback that names the brilliance in the teacher’s application and synthesis of content while also providing the kinds of collective and individual nudges that push the learner forward. This kind of genuine and informed attentiveness is what additionally marks Dr. Ostrow’s course as outstanding.”

Award for Outstanding Online Course Design

The second award sponsored by Mizzou Online is the Outstanding Online Course Design Award. This award recognizes creative implementation of instructional strategies and acknowledgement of emerging trends surrounding the challenges learners face.

Two instructors are receiving this award: Zandra de Araujo and Leah Rosenberg.

De Araujo is an associate professor in the Department of Learning, Teaching and Curriculum in the College of Education and is being recognized for her online graduate course Contemporary Equity Issues in Mathematics Education.

Associate professor Deborah Hanuscin, a Kemper Fellow and recipient of state and national teaching awards, nominated De Araujo for the honor. In her nomination letter, she noted how the mathematics instructor employs an investigation-based approach to exploring equity in real classrooms, and how she enhances the quality and engagement of students in discussion of equity and diversity.

“I am familiar with good teaching,” Hanuscin wrote. “Zandra’s course is … great teaching. My gut reaction after walking through her course design with her was, ‘I need to work on my own course design now!’” 

The undergraduate online course design award recipient, Rosenberg, is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Religious Studies in the College of Arts and Science.

Rosenberg was nominated by Richard J. Callahan, associate professor and chair of the department, for her course Cults and New Religious Movements.

“Dr. Rosenberg has done a remarkable job transforming a successful in-person class into an effective online course that overcomes instructional challenge,” Callahan wrote in his nomination letter. “She has incorporated instructional strategies … to successfully steer students, step-by-step, through difficult thinking and terrain, always aiming at the learning objectives and goals of the course.”

Mizzou Online is dedicated to collaborative efforts with academic units and administrative offices at the University of Missouri to support distance students and expand distance education. Instructors like Rosenberg, de Araujo, Ostrow and many others make Mizzou an online education provider of choice for more than 15,000 students every year.

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