Two College of Arts and Sciences courses won awards at the annual Association for Distance Education and Independent Learning (ADEIL) Conference. ADEIL is a professional association for all those engaged in or interested in distance learning. The assistant director for the Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE) Aisha Haynes serves as president and conference chair with ADEIL. At its annual conference, attendees are welcomed to expand their professional networks and showcase new ideas and perspectives. With the guidance of instructional designers from CTE, award winners Hayden Smith and Charles Schumpert brought home victories.
Hayden Smith won the Distinguished Course Award for excellence in accessibility and the use of technology. While teaching Criminal Justice and Mental Health, it can be difficult to debunk the stereotypes and misconceptions seen in television and other media. Smith focuses on giving students an accurate representation of the criminal justice system through immersive technology. “Through the CTE Virtual Environments Bootcamp and the Teaching Incubator, I developed the course to give an inside out viewpoint. With the use of 360 videos and virtual reality, it places people in the criminal justice system with a viewpoint that can really facilitate the teaching,” Smith said.
Lydia Frass, instructional designer with CTE, recalls when Smith first attended their bootcamp. “He came in with the idea to develop virtual reality content that could be used with a headset. Then he was introduced to 360 video and other types of immersive experiences for students that was affordable and accessible,” Frass said. It can be a difficult and potentially dangerous situation to try and take a group of students on a prison tour, especially now in the midst of a pandemic. Frass and Smith cooperated to guarantee that students would still walk away with an engaging and interactive learning experience.
Charles Schumpert, Distinguished Course Award winner, facilitates Biology 101 labs and received recognition for his use of open educational resources (OERs) and excellence in accessibility. Being a first-generation college student himself, Schumpert related to the need to cut down the extra cost of course materials. “We were using Openstax which is a completely free textbook. They even provide Blackboard modules that you can plug in,” Schumpert said. “This way the students don’t have to buy anything. I don’t think there should be a price tag on the access to knowledge.”
Schumpert worked closely with instructional designer Gloria Washington when revamping his course to be more accessible. “Schumpert is always attending CTE events and is heavily involved in different grant programs,” Washington said. “His willingness to be open and redesign a course to better fit students is exemplified through the success of his course.” “We really wanted students to have multiple ways to access materials. Not only are they reading about it in a textbook or PowerPoint, but they also have the option to see it in front of them via virtual reality,” Schumpert said.
“Many courses were nominated for ADEIL awards this year. I was thrilled to see that two courses from the University of South Carolina won awards,” Haynes said. “This goes to show that faculty at UofSC, in partnership with CTE Instructional Designers, are developing nationally recognized, high quality and innovative online courses. We look forward to continuing to consult with faculty at the University to design accessible, inclusive, innovative and high-quality courses.”