Excellence in online teaching recipient Management Professor Furkan Gur

In early February, the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning announced a new award to recognize excellence in online teaching. The university community responded to the call by nominating 27 faculty and teaching staff for the new Excellence in Online Teaching Award. The nominees represented 16 academic departments within six colleges.

“We have many faculty and teaching staff across the university who have been pioneers in online teaching and learning,” said Jason Rhode, executive director of the Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning. “This new university-level award raises the profile of and highlights the importance of this work moving forward. It also signals our institutional commitment to excellence in online and hybrid teaching.”

The recipients of the inaugural Excellence in Online Teaching Awards will be honored during the virtual Faculty Awards Ceremony on Thursday, April 22.

Furkan Gur, Assistant Professor in the Department of Management

Without any prior experience and with no notice, Furkan Gur got right to business transforming his in-person classes to an online format due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Not only did the assistant professor in the Department of Management attend the Online Course Design Academy offered by NIU’s Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, he also utilized expertise from other institutions of higher education. In addition, he read books and consulted other resources to learn best practices for remote teaching.

“When the pandemic led to instructional disruptions, I worked hard to make sure the changes were smooth and easy to implement for students,” says Gur. “I also continued my commitment to making sure students still had a positive experience and learning objectives for classes were met.”

Furkan structured his classes to be delivered in a modular format, with a new lesson released each week. He created new assignments to adapt to the online learning environment, including a New Venture Launch project in which students created an online business. He overhauled course readings and resources and introduced students to YellowDig, an online community building platform.

“In my online classes, I strive to create an engaging learning environment built around providing students opportunities for hands-on and practical experiences,” continues Gur. “Students experience a combination of exercises, simulations, cases, guest speakers, workshops, field trips, improvised and planned presentations, brief and detailed business pitches, group projects, interviews and launching a business in my classes.”

The variety of content that Gur was able to deliver was not comprised when he moved his courses online. His students were pleased that they were still able to experience the activities, resources and connection they had grown accustomed to while taking Gur’s classes in-person.

“YellowDig gave us the opportunity to share resources like book recommendations, articles, websites, and even our own personal opinions on topics relating to entrepreneurship and current events,” recalls Samantha Pinnock, one of Professor Gur’s students. “This was the most included in a community many of us felt since going virtual. I knew that I had a community of people that were going through similar challenges which made me feel less alone.”

Colleagues in the College of Business have also benefited from working with Gur in transitioning course delivery online.

“Professor Gur is helpful and eagerly shares his experiences in online education with his colleagues, so that we can be better educators in the online medium,” said Sarah Marsh, associate professor of Management and former department chair. “I can say that the energy and skill in which he has developed his courses in an online format is an inspiration to all his colleagues.”

written by Andrew Pemberton for NIU Today; reposted from NIU Today by M. De Jean, Director of Marketing, NIU Business

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