Faculty Member Lauded for Online Course Approach

What does it take to make online learning as engaging and effective as traditional classroom teaching? Dr. Rebekah Nix, a senior lecturer in the School of Interdisciplinary Studies, knows.

Nix, who teaches science education courses through the University’s Teacher Development Center, has been honored with the 2010 Innovations in Online Learning Teaching Award, given by the UT System Innovations in Online Learning Conference.

“I am honored to be recognized by my peers – other online educators,” said Nix. “The award is a confirmation of the efforts that UT Dallas is making to advance the quality of education its students receive on campus and through distance education.”

The award is given to an outstanding UT System faculty member or teaching assistant who has made innovative contributions to the field of teaching in online education. Recipients must have taught an online course within the past year and used inventive techniques in presenting learning materials and/or teaching their online course.

“As classrooms for schools across the country change, our instruction of future teachers must also change,” said Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies.  “Dr. Nix provides a window for our students to use the latest in classroom technology for all our students.”

Nix used her experiences as an online student and as a teacher to create a student-centered learning environment that would be useful and engaging, whether online or face-to-face.

Nix designed and produced the Educational Technology course (ED 4372), which students consistently rate highly in terms of content and delivery.  Students also praised Nix’s expertise as an instructor.

“Because I came to teaching from private industry, I sought technologies to support my teaching goals, rather than simply changing the way the same old content was delivered,” Nix said. “I’ve managed to use various functions to offload the mundane that allow me to dedicate myself to those ‘teachable moments’ that are often overlooked in large, time-constrained classes.”

The Educational Technology course has been offered through the UT System’s TeleCampus since 2001, and nearly 750 students have completed the online course.

Nix was honored by the United States Distance Learning Association with its 2007 Best Practices Gold Award for distance learning teaching. She received the UT Library Directors’ Award for Excellence in Library Resource Integration in 2007 and the National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) Teacher of the Month from the Monterrey Institute for Technology and Education in 2008.

UT System TeleCampus recently recognized Nix as a Diamond Certified Online Instructor, a designation she earned by completing an innovative four-week workshop.

“I introduce my students to a number of useful tools and resources which they can later creatively use in their own classrooms and gain valuable, practical experience to help them make a difference,” said Nix. “The greatest reward is that these students are my future colleagues!”

Nix received her PhD in science education from Curtin University of Technology in Perth, Australia.

“The award is a confirmation of the efforts that UT Dallas is making to advance the quality of education its students receive on campus and through distance education,” said Dr. Rebekah Nix.

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].