Bluum and the Maryland Society for Educational Technology (MSET) is proud to announce the finalists for its annual Outstanding Higher Education Award. This award recognizes a Higher Education professional who has made exemplary contributions to the implementation of technology in Maryland institutions of higher education. It supports MSET’s Mission to advance excellence in learning and teaching through innovative and effective uses of technology.
“MSET has spent a lot of time reengaging the organization with its higher education members and this past year it was determined to add the Outstanding Higher Education Award,” MSET President Brian Cook explained about the new award. “We are excited to have three outstanding educators honored this year from the Higher Ed ranks who exemplify the mission of MSET. Each of these candidates offer a special talent and are leaders in their universities.”
Here are the three finalists:
ALISSA HARRINGTON, Senior Instructional Design Specialist at McDaniel College — Alissa's innovative approach has been instrumental in the adoption of new technologies at McDaniel, contributing to the vitality of faculty and promoting student success. Since her arrival at McDaniel, Alissa has demonstrated a commitment to supporting faculty and students with effective technology use by publishing a weekly video blog called Tech Tip Tuesday (see artifact 2) each semester. Through this platform, she provides the McDaniel community with up-to-date information on emerging technologies, best practices, and just-in-time technology support. Remarkably, she has not missed a week of publishing a video since her first recording in September 2019. To curate content for Tech Tip Tuesday, Alissa continuously reviews help desk tickets, researches vendor updates, and stays connected on emerging technology practices through her participation in professional networks such as Educause, and the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC).
Alissa's dedication to technology integration at McDaniel is further demonstrated through her monthly training sessions for faculty. She employs various formats designed to attract faculty participation, including lunch-and-learn sessions called Mind Grub and her popular Friday Appy Hour sessions. She also developed a Summer Technology Challenge to increase faculty engagement and training attendance during the summer months. To her surprise, she had nearly 30 faculty entries and doubled her summer workshop participation. Her workshop sessions cover a wide range of topics that promote emerging technologies and their potential to enhance teaching and learning. Some of the titles of her recent sessions include "Designing with AI Tools," "Reviving QR Codes: Innovative Applications for Classroom Engagement," and "Custom Learning Paths with Adaptive Release." By creating engaging and lively sessions, Alissa helps to foster a positive and energized learning environment for faculty, encouraging them to actively participate and explore new technologies.
CHELSEA MCCLURE, Lecturer in Secondary and Middle School Education at Towson University — McClure is in the College of Education and incorporates technology in educational settings through her classes, where she consistently has her students use technology for formal assessments throughout class, engagement activities as well as for projects. She also integrates technology and promotes the use of technology in internship placements in her part-time internship and full-time internship classes. The technology is promoted for teacher internships to use in their middle and high school classroom for engagement, collaboration, 21st century skills, and incorporating different learning styles. Overall, she plans, promotes, and engages students and teacher candidates in the use of technology for the purpose of improving the educational setting.
McClure also impacts the educational community through her grant-funded project promoting the use of technology in teacher education. The first example is through her grant -unded project using virtual simulations to engage teacher candidates in guardian-teacher conferences to build confidence and skills in areas that many students report being an area of need for additional training. She has run this training as a two-day professional learning experience, as well as it being integrated into her course and has received positive feedback from students on how the technology made a significant and positive impact.
RYAN SCHAAF, Associate Professor of Educational Technology at Notre Dame Maryland University —schaaf has personified the definition of higher education leadership by promoting the effective use of technology with his fellow faculty members, as well as students pursuing a wide variety of degrees in teacher preparatory programs. He consistently seeks out new information and professional learning opportunities. He keeps up with the latest trends through education publications and reflects on how he can support innovative learning at NDMU. Throughout his tenure as a professor for the School of Education (SOE), Ryan has shared his extensive wealth of knowledge and resources inside and outside of Maryland. Over the past ten years, Ryan has both attended and presented at a variety of national and regional conferences, including, but not limited to, FETC, ISTE, Serious Play, The Game-Based Learning Virtual Conference, and, of course, Common Ground. Ryan has provided spotlight keynotes at five previous Common Ground conferences in person and virtually during the pandemic.
Over the past decade, Ryan continuously improves his professional practice through the exploration of creative applications for technology and the consistent evaluation and reflection of current research and methods to maximize student learning by authoring seven books associated with digital-age learning, digital game-based learning, future-focused learning, and promoting learning agency in today’s schools. Making School a Game Worth Playing, Using Digital Games as Assessment and Instruction Tools, and Game On are texts that examine the use of gaming in learning contexts. A Brief History of the Future of Education, Learner Choice, Learner Voice, and Literacy is Still Not Enough are books that explore education reform and modern learning initiatives. Finally, Reinventing Learning for the Always-On Generation, a text that provides a comprehensive profile and framework for teaching members of the digital generations, was awarded the 2016 IPPY Silver Medal for an exemplary educational resource by Independent Publisher. Amazon has often recognized Ryan Schaaf’s texts as hot releases in categories such as education reform, pedagogy, and computers and technology.