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Castling Innovation Awards Honor Teachers – St. Olaf College


Eric Cole, a professor of biology, is looking at laboratory slides through a microscope. Last spring, Cole devised a way to share live microscopic images and do the research he taught while students were studying at home. Cole is one of six faculty members who recently received the Castling Faculty Innovation Award for innovation and educational excellence.

Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, biology professor Eric Cole worked hard to withdraw from educational technology. He was afraid that students would become more passive learners by over-reliance on video presentations and websites to support lectures.

That’s why the lab has developed a training and implementation approach to draw students deeper into observation. The students drew an illustration of a microbial whiteboard on a memo and learned instrumentation manually in the laboratory.

However, when COVID-19 occurred, Cole and his colleagues were left with a difficult question. How do you teach students currently studying around the world with the time available for different spaces, access and online education? How can I get my students to learn?

We were separated from each other, from the bench and the organisms, and from the creative process of living research, Cole says. How do you get students to handle living things in an environment now? How do you get them to discover their hands?

As a solution, Cole went back to technology. He used an interactive pen display to recreate the illustration lecture experience online. He also devised a way to conduct live microscopy sessions for research students.

The outbreak required us to rethink how we teach and learn together. I am happy to be able to honor the achievements of some of our excellent teachers in this way. MarciSortor, Provost, Dean of College

Cole says the students designed experiments, recipes, and protocols. I experimented in a school lab, and my daughter, Liana 21 (Biology), began to learn the same thing in her basement. Working as an avatar, we sent real-time mobile phone images of the hands and digital images of the microscope to the remote partner via zoom.

Cole and five other faculty members were surprised this fall after the campus was closed last spring. They were the winners of the new Castling Faculty Innovation Awards, which received special awards made possible by Randy and Lori Castling P12.

Each of the six winners, who demonstrated their creativity and innovation while tackling the challenges of online education, was awarded the $ 2,500 award. Winners were selected from more than 30 faculty members recommended by colleagues. The leadership of the St. Olavs Academic and Educational Technology Team has elected finalists. In addition to the call recipient, it includes:

Alden Adolph, Physics, Engineering Research Adolph has created an introductory worksheet for electricity and magnetism that integrates problems, conceptual questions, demonstration videos, and computational exercises to improve course accessibility.

Music Kheshgi’s Rehanna Kheshgi has developed the online Javanese Gamelan Studio. This allows students to use household items to learn and practice community-based gamelan ensemble instruments from a distance. Kheshgi and winner Christina Spiker have also adopted a labor-based rating contract system that encourages students to take creative risks in learning and enhances feedback on students and their self-assessment.

Melissa Mendes, Social Work and Family Studies Mendes is an introduction to social work using a video discussion platform that allows students to learn how COVID-19 influences the roles and practices of graduates’ social workers. Designed an outreach project for students.

Christina Spiker, Art and Art History Spiker used Panopto to make videos. This video integrates various resources to get students on track and engage in learning. Spiker, in collaboration with Kheshgi, jointly promoted a working group this summer and shared a grading contract system with faculty members.

English Ward’s Sean Ward has transformed the final exam into an important / creative task that integrates important questions and introspection. This allows students to innovate across genres and build meaningful relationships with course content.

Marci Sortor, University Provost and Dean, is grateful to Casslings for taking this opportunity to acknowledge the ingenuity and dedication of his faculty. The outbreak required us to rethink how we teach and learn together. In this way, I am happy to honor the achievements of some of our excellent teachers.

Randy and Lori Castling awarded awards to honor the experience provided to their daughter Kyle Castling 12, a major in biology and sociology / anthropology. Kyle is currently in her fifth year as a General Surgery Resident at Vanderbilt University.

The professor has such an influence on the students. They are the ones that switch the right switch to let us know who we are and what we will be. It is important to help give back to those who take us there. Randy Cassling P’12

The driving force behind all this is how much St. Olaf and his teachers have changed our daughter, says Randy. The professor has such an influence on the students. They are the ones that switch the right switch to let us know who we are and what we will be. It is important to help give back to those who take us there.

Randy and Lori Castling attach great importance to the role that faculty members play in my development as scholars and people. Their gift this summer celebrates the experience their daughter Kyle 12 learned from a hilltop educator.

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