November 8, 2023
Courtesy story and photo submitted
Science Interactive, a leader in supporting effective online science education, announced its 2023 Interactive Science Educator Award winners. In its inaugural year, this awards program recognizes innovative educators who are positively impacting student success and advancing online science education. Nominations opened this summer, and only four educators were selected to receive the honor.
As colleges increasingly embrace online learning, demand for online science courses continues to grow. In fact, more than 90% of students want to be able to take sciences online, including a large number pursuing STEM-based degrees. However, unlike other disciplines, online science labs present a host of unique challenges for instructors, including the ability to recreate a hands-on lab experience and ensuring quality and rigor. This means instructors must find innovative ways to engage students, encourage accessibility, leverage hybrid teaching and learning strategies, and use technology in ways that support greater student success. The 2023 Interactive Science Educators doing that include:
- Ms. Latoya Hill, Barton Community College (Pharmacy), represents the category of Innovative Use of Technology. As the winner in this category, Ms. Hill is maximizing the use — and pushing the limits — of technology to impact student success. She creates a seamless experience, integrating virtual lab simulations with the LMS in order to prepare her pharmacy students for real-world applications and reinforce what they are learning through hands-on experiences.
- Dr. Lori Wilson, University of North Georgia (Chemistry), represents the category of Unique Methods of Student Engagement. As a winner in this category, Dr. Wilson is creating memorable and impactful experiences for her students. With weekly office hours, interactive multimedia, and her transformed approach to grading, students have more agency over their grades and a stronger sense of ownership over their own learning.
- Dr. Effat Zeidan Hatoum, California Baptist University (Anatomy & Physiology, Biology), represents the category of Leveraging Hybrid Learning and Teaching Strategies. As the winner in this category, Dr. Zeidan Hatoum is successfully increasing access to science education by combining hands-on experiences with virtual content in creative ways that support student success. Her focus on personalized feedback, motivational messaging, and mid-course progress reports helps take the fear out of learning STEM online for students and underscores her commitment to student success.
- Dr. Charuta Mirajkar, Brightpoint Community College (Biology), represents the category of Promoting Accessibility. As the winner in this category, Dr. Mirajkar is using technology and tools to foster a supportive and accessible learning experience for all. Her commitment to expanding the reach of science education to students of different ages, socio-economic backgrounds, and learning preferences, provides students the same opportunities as on-campus students. Her use of custom hands-on lab kits, particularly with her virtual BIO 101 course, ensures the same quality and rigor as on-campus labs while maintaining affordability.
Among other benefits, this year’s honorees will be able to further invest in their students’ success by taking advantage of a Science Interactive donation to their department, as well as share their knowledge and best practices with the broader community through various presentation opportunities.
“In a world where education is evolving rapidly, the Interactive Science Educator Award aims to highlight the educators who teach science online in ways that embrace technology, creativity, and accessibility in order to transform the way students engage with science. This year’s award recipients exemplify this and go above and beyond in their work to empower students with scientific literacy, inspire curiosity, and spark innovation. We’re proud to partner with them and honored to support the work they do to impact student success and advance the field of online science education,” said CEO of Science Interactive, Sasha Peterson.
The Interactive Science Educator Award is an annual awards program, and nominations for the 2024 program will open in July. Honorees are announced every fall. Evaluations include multiple reviews by Science Interactive’s team of scientists and curriculum experts to assess the extent to which nominees positively impact student success and successfully deliver science education online.
Science Interactive will host a webinar with the four honorees on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2024 at 2 pm EST. Register for the one-hour event to learn about their innovative work along with the challenges, lessons, and best practices of online science education.
To learn more about the program, visit scienceinteractive.com/awards.