Innovative Teaching

Bentley provost Mike Page (at right) awarded professors Denise Hanes, Mystica Alexander, Jay Thibodeau, George Fishman, and me Bentley’s Innovation in Teaching Award for 2012 at the faculty meeting this morning.

Innovation in Teaching Winners

My application was for the innovative teaching and learning that happens in the CIS Sandbox. It was an unconventional application: Usually these awards are associated with specific courses, and usually the teachers of those courses are actually teaching. In my case, not this time.

The innovative teachers and dedicated learners who made this recognition possible are the CIS Sandbox assistants and students who have embraced the changes we have made, and turned the CIS Sandbox into a place where students gather to teach, talk, tutor, touch, and try technology.

A summary of my application follows the jump.

A fresh coat of paint and new furniture were the obvious external changes to Bentley’s former CIS Lab when renovated in 2011. More difficult than changing room’s outward appearance was changing the perceptions of what happens inside. The facility had a reputation of being a place where only students who needed help would go, and the role of assistants who worked there was limited to tutoring and maintaining equipment. Mark’s innovation was to rethink what a 21st Century computer lab can be. Rebranded as the CIS Sandbox, the new facility relies on student-managed social media to create a virtual presence, encouraging student learning in person and online. In addition, the CIS Sandbox has joined with the Office of Undergraduate Career services to hold career information events, and with Microsoft and other companies to host extracurricular events around current IT topics, providing students with opportunities for learning beyond tutoring of classroom assignments. This innovation reminds us that teaching and learning are not limited to the classroom.