Professor Wins Top USG Award for Online Teaching

Friday, September 6, 2013

A UWG faculty member has been awarded one of the most prestigious teaching awards in Georgia. Kim Huett, an instructor in the Department of Educational Technology and Foundations, is the recipient of the 2014 Georgia Board of Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award. Huett is the first educator to ever receive the award in the “Online Teaching” category.

The Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award has been recognizing extraordinary educators since 1996. According to the University System of Georgia website, winners have “a record of superlative teaching and a strong commitment to impacting student learning and to ultimately fostering the academic success of students.”

In regard to Huett’s teaching, the USG award letter cited her “innovative use of media” among the top reasons for why she was unanimously chosen by a panel of faculty and administrators from across the University System of Georgia. Huett, who teaches students studying to be pre-service teachers and speech language pathologists, takes advantage of the digital nature of the online class. Because teaching methods are constantly changing, her students must be competent in many levels of technology.

“My students are preparing to enter a K-12 learning environment infused with various uses of technology, including online and blended learning approaches,” Huett said. “Because my course is fully online, I use the opportunity to model effective online teaching. I model giving feedback in an online course, meeting the needs of different learners through the online course, creating a student-centered community of learners, and reflecting on the teaching and learning process.”

Huett also believes that a strong communication between the students and the professor is imperative in an online setting, and in order to create that atmosphere, she says that a professor must “provide ongoing formative assessment and feedback.”

“I work hard to be available and responsive to them; and I respect the perspectives, experiences and challenges they bring to class,” she said. “In the brief time I have with my students, I strive to connect them to relevant experiences that will help them succeed both in and beyond the courses I teach.”

In an effort to keep her students as the main focus of her teaching, Huett customizes her curriculum to meet the needs of individual students. After discovering a student with unusual circumstances, she developed a plan that would create an optimal learning atmosphere for him individually, including regular Skype sessions as well as face-to-face learning in the lab. Huett is willing to alter the course of study to meet the goals of her students.

Huett believes that continual design and redesign are a necessity for proactively reaching her students. In fall 2012, she performed a needs assessment study, including interviews with faculty, administrators, former students and current K-12 teachers, to determine the proficiency of her current course design. In spring 2013, she implemented the changes indicated by the assessment. The additions to her classes proved to be an enhancement.

“One change included the Voices from the Field interview series where I or my students, through a course project, interview practicing K-12 educators on use of technology in the field, and select interviews become curriculum in the course,” Huett said. “Another change from the needs assessment was to add a research project on the school technology resourcing model known as BYOT, or bring your own technology, which is a prominent new form of blended learning in many Georgia K-12 schools.”

Huett received notification of the award in August 2013. The Board of Regents will honor Huett at the annual USG Gala, and she has also been asked to present at the annual USG Teaching and Learning Conference in April 2014.

"We are so very proud of Professor Huett and the acknowledgement of her impact on UWG's quality online programs,” said Dr. Kyle Marrero, president of UWG. “The Regents' Teaching Excellence Award merely validates what we already knew - she is a superstar!"

For more information on UWG’s online learning, please visit http://uwgonline.westga.edu/.