Two faculty honored for innovation in online education

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provost awards streamProfessor Brenda Bertrand, Ph.D., and Associate Professor Beth Barstow, Ph.DTwo faculty in the School of Health Professions have been selected to receive the Provost’s Awards for Transformative Online Courses, which honors those who exemplify best practices and innovation in online education, enhance the student experience through the use of creative teaching strategies and foster an interactive learning community that maximizes student engagement and outcomes.

The honorees — Associate Professor Beth Barstow, Ph.D., and Professor Brenda Bertrand, Ph.D., — received a cash prize and a Crystal Flame award. They will present their courses at a lunch-and-learn hosted by UAB eLearning and Professional Studies 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Nov. 1 in CTL 243.

Beth Barstow
Department of Occupational Therapy

Barstow was honored for the course OT 679, titled “Foundations in Low Vision II.” In OT 679, students learn to use information from client evaluations to design appropriate interventions that will improve occupational performance.

To overcome the challenge of explaining niche, technical subjects online, Barstow focused on enhancing student engagement through structured chat sessions with topic experts, group topic discussions, and connections to program alumni.

“The course positively influenced my practice as a low vision occupational therapist,” said a former OT 679 student. “I utilize the information that I learned in this course in my daily practice.”

In 2004, Barstow played a critical role in developing the UAB Graduate Certification in Low Vision Rehabilitation program, which can be earned online. The program is the preeminent low-vision rehabilitation program in the world; UAB LVR alumni make up more than half of the occupational therapists with the with the American Occupational Therapy Association’s Specialty Certification in Low Vision.

Brenda Bertrand
Department of Nutrition Sciences

Bertrand was honored for the course NTR 601, titled “Advanced Medical Nutrition.” In NTR 601, students create an authentic online community of learning in order to exercise critical thinking while working in a team environment to learn nutrition’s role in the treatment of disease.

The Provost’s Awards for Transformative Online Courses recognize online courses developed by faculty that exemplify best practices and innovation in online education.

To fill in knowledge gaps and plan appropriate nutrition interventions, students consulted with experts in the field and interpreted recent research, ultimately showcasing their work in electronic portfolios to teach their classmates about their learning journey.

“This is an actively engaged course,” said a former NTR 601 student. “Dr. Bertrand understands that the students in NTR 601 are at a critical point in their emerging professional careers.”

Bertrand has more than 15 years experience teaching and received case-based method training from the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science. She also has earned awards for teaching excellence at the college and state levels.