WISE Excellence in Online Teaching Award Recipients
Best Practices – 2009
Linda Braun, Simmons College (repeat recipient)
Web design and Information Architecture, Fall 2009
Young Adult Literature, Summer 2009
Best Practices: "Students appreciate quick turn-around time when answering questions and participating in discussions.
In the online world this can be via an email that says, I'll get back to you on that by tomorrow; a screencast that demonstrates a concept
that is escaping a student's understanding; a link to a resource that will help a student gain the information needed, or an email address
that connects two students so they can work on a project. Regular communication, along with using web 2.0 tools and giving students
opportunities to learn from each other are key aspects of successful online teaching and learning."
What Professor Braun's students say: "Prof Linda Braun is an excellent instructor. She is one up on the students and I see
her sending her weekly activities very punctually on the morning of the first day of the week. She takes pains to record weekly audios and
I can tell they are not 'one size fits all' audio. She makes them tailor-made for each class. She is very prompt in her response and will
go back and forth with the student to resolve an issue. She doesn't feel irritated or burdened with our questions. She has excellent subject
knowledge and she provides clear rules/grade rubric for us to work on in terms of grades. Her interaction with students via Skype is commendable.
Despite being in an online class, I feel I know her very well and I have made some friends in the class. This part really brings life to an
online class which otherwise makes us feel very disconnected from the class. Overall she is excellent and she deserves this award."
"Professor Braun utilized a variety of online formats to make the class extremely interactive. We were constantly sharing ideas in a
variety of contexts, in small groups and as a whole class, and with ongoing input from the Professor. She had high expectations of our ability
to access each other online and built instruction of online applications such as Twitter, Voice Thread and pbwiki, into the curriculum. I learned
a lot about online communication and collaboration. I learned new software to bring to my job. I read and discussed lots of YA lit, and felt cared
about by my Professor. This was the most fulfilling class I have taken in the MLIS program."
Anthony Rotolo, Syracuse University
Social Media, Summer 2009
Best Practices: "My work with social media technologies has taught me that, at their core, they are about building
relationships. In my view, this makes social media a perfect fit for online education. When I ask my class to connect with me on
Twitter or Facebook, it's not only to try something new and cool. It's to build meaningful relationships with them, to learn about
their broader interests, and to allow them to learn about me in the same way. The benefits are impossible to ignore. Discussion continues
effortlessly and takes on a life of its own. Students discover common interests and connect outside of class. Even former students get
involved in future semesters. Just as social media has changed the way we interact with peers and businesses, it will have a major impact
on how we learn. I'm excited to be exploring the future of online education at the Syracuse University iSchool."
What Professor Rotolo's students say: "Mr.Rotolo was very engaged in discussions and furthering threads along, while
demonstrating intelligent usage of social media tools. He was available online, utilized Twitter and Facebook, and maintained
a challenging, well-planned and manageable course. A very positive teacher and positive experience!
Barbara Kwasnik, Syracuse University (repeat recipient)
Theory of Subject Representation and Classification, Fall 2009
Best Practices: "Everyone knows that sustained interaction in online classes is important so that the student and the
faculty are aware of each others' "presence." I try to come up with new and varied ways in which to reach this goal. The
principle is that interaction must be meaningful rather than just rote. One way is to make the students co-teachers, fulfilling part
of the teaching function by posting presentations on small slices of the course content. Another is to have ungraded assignments that
are really practice exercise. Each of these is challenging but low-risk so that students can speculate, discuss and react without a
grade being attached. A third is to have students post drafts of projects so that they can get feedback before posting the final product."
What Professor Kwasnik's Students Say: "This instructor is fully engaged in the discussion of the students. Professor
Kwasnik does not hesitate to ask questions and push her students to think beyond the basic assumptions of classfications. That being
said, she appreciates multiple perspectives and is not afraid of being wrong or learning new things. This is by far the class in which
I have learned the most throughout my MLIS program. I can't imagine a better individual for this award!"
John Wagstaff, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Music Librarianship and Bibliography, Spring 2009
Best Practices: "WISE is such a great idea! Having students from several library schools enrolled on my course really
enriches the discussions that we are able to have and, I'm sure, helps create new professional friendships between course participants.
Experiences are shared, learning is enhanced, and fun is had too. I look forward each year to finding out who has enrolled in my class
for the new semester, and it's always a delight to find several WISE students there."
What Professor Wagstaff's students say: "John Wagstaff ran a wonderful online synchronous class covering all aspects of
Music Librarianship. His style, voice, tenor, ease of delivery and overall ability to deliver the information was amazing. The course
flew by with great speed. He was interesting to listen to and he was interested in the student's participation. His power point presentations
were effective and invaluable to enhance the lecture style. He conducted the sessions with a sense of humor and always found time to listen
to the student's dialogue via chat. I only wish the semester was longer because it was a real treat to look forward to every Monday night.
Tomas Lipinski, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (repeat recipient)
Legal Issues for Library and Information Managers, Spring 2009
Legal Issues for Library and Information Managers, Spring 2009
Best Practices: "The design of the WISE course Legal Issues for Library and Information
Managers incorporates several underlying attitudes. First, demystify the law; make the law accessible to
students. Initial lessons are designed to encourage students to not be overwhelmed or intimidated by 'the law.'
This is done by deconstructing legal concepts into essential and digestible elements. Then reconstruct the law
through various problem solving approaches and strategies. Introduction of a concept in the classroom is followed
by numerous examples of application beyond the original context and targets the library setting in specific, e.g.,
discuss what the law of indecency is then hypothesize how issues relating to indecency might arise in say the public
"Using fact-based discussion questions and short scenario or case-study peer-to-peer assignments (most legal
problems are fact-intensive endeavors such as determining whether a given library practice is fair use or not)
students begin to gain deeper understanding. This is the second underlying concept of the class, having students
address more and more complex legal problems, to move from simple knowing to identifying what is still unknown and
the application of knowledge from the familiar to the unfamiliar. Bloom's taxonomy is used loosely to create ever
complicating learning challenges and assessments. The teaching philosophy of the instructor is simple, since law is
ever-changing it requires life-long learning, there is always more to know, as a result my charge is two-fold: 'how
can I help my students enjoy knowing what I know and how can we together learn what is still unknown for all of us?'"
What Professor Lipinski's students say: "Dr. Lipinski was a great online instructor. I learned so much
in this course. He covered First Amendment Issues, Intellectual Property, Copyright, Patriot's Act and other issues
regarding users of librarians. I liked his live chats on Tuesdays and his up-to-date informative approach to everything.
He was very available and had a nice manner and I learned more than I ever thought I would. I hope he wins this award.
He deserves it. After taking his class I just wanted to learn more."
Ruth Palmquist, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Human Information Interaction, Spring 2009
Human Information Interaction, Spring 2009
Best Practices: "I want to focus on two primary elements essential to successful online teaching––communication
and structure. While we often take these two elements for granted in the traditional classroom, there importance in an online
"Communication can be conducted in a variety of ways with online students, but primarily the Discussion Forum and email
provide the major avenues for teacher and student(s) to talk, and for student(s) to talk with each other. Most learning management
software also provides avenues like an Announcement area where it is advisable to post something frequently… reminding them of the
week's work, what new documents have been posted, what is the next graded assignment due date, the schedule for an impending school
holiday (even virtual students need a Spring Break!). Each new announcement gives the student a sense that logging in to the course
site is important, that content there is changing often, and that the instructor is anxious to 'connect' with each of them. Email,
of course, can provide a more personal way to provide a 'pat on the back' for an insightful post to the Discussion or to relay some
specific material that the student might need. I still enjoy being a librarian to my students while they are casting about for
material for a term project. I sometimes use email to send a partial bibliographic search result to help a student get a good start
or suggest a slight topic change. I always offer, and some do utilize, the opportunity for a phone conversation, when that can be
useful. For a lengthy discussion of a research idea, etc., they can let me know when they are available for me to phone and then
email their phone number to me. I can then make the call. Luckily, I have a 'one price' arrangement with my phone company. And, I
must admit that I haven't phoned students who are taking the class from outside of the U.S., although Skype and GoogleTalk are easily
useful for those students. Navigating time zones might be a problem!
"Structure is the other essential element without which I think an online course would feel somewhat 'out of control' to
the students. Besides a strong syllabus that expresses your expectations for participation and performance, each week has a definite
topic with definite activities attached, readings, discussion, and in some cases, a 'presentation' of Power Point slides along with
a targeted discussion aimed at the student 'presenter' from others in the class. Students need structure in order to gauge their
workload and to successfully plan their course participation/performance around their other life activities."
What Professor Palmquist's students say: "I'm nearing completion of my degree, of which every class has been online.
Professor Palmquist's class was my favorite by far. I was interested in the subject and Professor Palmquist is an extremely knowledgeable,
organized, and effective instructor, but there was more to it than that. Somehow she managed to convey a personality -- a sense of
warmth and a sense of humor, plus genuine interest, support, intellectual curiosity and mutual respect -- that I've usually found
lacking in online teaching. I felt like I was dealing with a human being. More importantly, this teacher-student relationship motivated
me to work harder than I have in other classes, to contribute more and better comments to class discussions and to submit higher-quality
"Ruth was one of the most positive, engaging, supportive and enthusiastic lecturers I've had. The course was absolutely
fascinating, and the way Ruth organized the course (in terms of assessment, weekly work schedules etc) was extremely conducive
to a really positive learning experience."
Carisse Mickey Berryhill, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Theological Librarianship, Fall 2009
Theological Librarianship, Fall 2009
Best Practices: "As an introduction to the theological librarianship specialty, the course surveys its contexts, materials,
services, and issues; but even more importantly, it opens a hospitable door to a community of theological librarians. Course readings
emphasize American Theological Library Association (ATLA) Proceedings. Almost every week a librarian from an ATLA member library is
our guest by live-streamed audio, answering questions submitted in advance by the students. The generosity and disciplined humanity
of these guests help me create and sustain a welcoming environment for students who wish to explore this field of service."
What Professor Berryhill's students say: "Dr. Berryhill met with us live each week via Elluminate for discussion and presentation from a different guest speaker. She also had the class arranged so that we had a regular schedule each week of readings and interactions in the Moodle class format with classmates. We moved from amassing information to a very practical, engaged interactive format of learning that demonstrated the best of online learning with the benefits of face to face via Elluminate. The writing assignments were reflective; calling us into engagement with the materials we encountered in our readings, from speakers, and from online interaction and therefore moved us into the mainstream of creating our own theology while integrating the experience of theological librarians across the history of libraries. Dr. Berryhill shared authentically from her own experience and knowledge while giving us focused attention as we shared from our ongoing learning."