“To me, being engaged is essential to learning. If what you are learning isn’t fun and interesting to you, you won’t want to learn and you won’t retain what you learn,” said Dr. Claire Stuve, curriculum developer and technology researcher in University College.
This philosophy on learning contributed to Stuve being honored with a 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award in the category of inclusive education. According to Blackboard Inc., This award honors those institutions whose methods have ensured their pedagogy, content, technology and educational services are fully inclusive and supportive of all learners with disabilities.Founded in 2005, the annual Catalyst Awards recognize and honor innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where millions of educators and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology. Winners were selected by a team of Blackboard experts.
“I’m extremely honored to be recognized for my work, but I’m just so thrilled that I created a course [Math 1330: Trigonometry] that truly helped students succeed. Introductory math courses are known for having high failure rates, but this award shows that an online math course can be successful,” Stuve said. “It is essential to be fully inclusive and supportive of all learners, not just those with documented disabilities. To help students succeed, I made sure that all my videos were captioned, content was keyboard accessible, documents were compatible with screen readers, and that there were limited colors and easy-to-read font types.”
Stuve explained she was motivated by her own experiences as an undergraduate in her work to make her courses engaging and enjoyable for students: “I struggled a lot and did not like school at all, which was a completely different experience than the previous 12 years of school I had. Then at the end of my program, I took an educational technology course that was deeply engaging and used technology to make the class fun. It’s the class in which I learned the most and actually gained knowledge that I kept with me after I walked out the classroom door. The four years I spent as an undergraduate were so painful that I became fueled with passion to improve university courses for other students so that they do not have to struggle the way that I did.”
Originally a high school teacher, Stuve holds a bachelor’s degree in physics, a master’s degree in instructional technology, and a doctoral degree from UT in curriculum and instruction.
The improvements to Stuve’s class didn’t come about without collaboration from the students who participate in the course: “Although I put a lot of work into making my course inclusive of all students, I couldn’t have done that without my students’ feedback. I met with my students synchronously once a week in a web conference session, and I always talked to them about their learning. Because students shared with me, I was able to learn how I could best design the course to meet their needs. I have read a lot of research about online math education, but sometimes the best answers to my questions came from simply asking my students what they wanted.”
In addition to using technology to create an inclusive classroom, Stuve employs more traditional methods to keep the atmosphere fun: “All the math jokes I told throughout the semester may not have been so bad!”
For a full list of 2017 Blackboard Catalyst Award recipients, visit press.blackboard.com/Blackboard-Catalyst-Awards-2017.