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Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award: Call for Entries Open Through March 15

When the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award (TWSIA) program began the decision was made that it should not be aimed at identifying technically complex uses of Sakai but rather to find those uses of the technology, even very simple ones, which drive true innovation in the teaching and learning process. With the TWSIA program now entering its third year, the Sakai Teaching and Learning community has been able to document a broad range of creative uses of Sakai and to begin to look for patterns of innovation in these applications.

An example of just one of the most interesting trends to emerge to date is the prevalence of the Sakai Wiki Tool in the majority of TWSIA applicants, as well as winners, and the many ways that this tool has been used to support new and inventive teaching methodologies. And one of the best examples of this is the work done by Dr. Edith Sheffer, a professor at Stanford University, who won the second place award in the 2009 TWSIA program for her Sakai-based “Germany and the World Wars, 1870-1990” course. Central to her winning application was an “Identities Project” which involved assigning students an identity at random at the start of the course that he or she would keep throughout the quarter, creating a unique historical character that was born in 1900 and lived through Germany’s tumultuous twentieth century. In weekly posts to individual wiki pages, students navigated and synthesized history in multiple dimensions, researching the texture of everyday life, untangling pivotal events, and weighing questions of humanity. One of Dr. Sheffer’s students describes the impact of the wiki-based assignment on his/her learning as follows:

“The weekly Identities assignments were somewhat like the weekly problem sets in math or science classes. In a math or physics class, it is not enough to just listen to the lecture and read the textbook; the student actually has to practice solving real problems. The Identities Project […] forced me t o consider how real people actually make decisions in historical events; I felt that I was, in essence, ‘solving’ the problem of ‘how and why do ordinary people act in history’ by ‘practicing’ on my historical avatar every week.”

Clearly, Dr. Sheffer used the wiki tool to create an innovative student-centered learning experience which allowed her students to personalize the historical subjects they were studying in powerful and meaningful ways. Additional details on this project as well as all of the past TWSIA applicants and winners are freely available through the web site, which is acting as a community repository for best practices and exemplars related to using Sakai.

Is your institution using Sakai in innovative ways? Consider applying for the 2010 Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award, and find the details below.

Call for Entries: 2010 Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award (Deadline: Monday, March 15, 2010)

The Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award publicly honors successful pedagogical innovation and best practices in teaching and learning in a Sakai environment. Winners will receive a trip to the 2010 Sakai Conference, June 14-17, 2010, in Denver, Colorado, USA to give a featured presentation about their teaching with Sakai. All entries will become part of the repository of best teaching practices. The award is sponsored by IBM, with additional support from rSmart and John Wiley & Sons.

For more information about the award and the submission deadline, go to the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award web site.

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