Learn More About This Year's Award Recipients

Several weeks ago, we published the names of all the award recipients for the 2016-2017 academic year. These students, instructors, alumni, and faculty from the USU Instructional Technology and Learning Sciences Department are incredible and deserve a bit more attention. Below you will find more information on several of these individuals.
 

Clarence Ames

MS Outstanding Graduate
Clarence Ames
"I was able to attend research conferences, publish papers, and work on enormous research projects."

At his old job doing tech support, Clarence decided things needed to change. He asked himself what he would do if money were not an issue. "After about a year of chewing on that question," he said, "I decided that the answer was, in essence, I would want to help other people get the knowledge and skills they need to be successful." Clarence chose the ITLS program at USU shortly after that because it was ranked as one of the best programs for instructional technology in the world. He soon found himself working in the Active Learning Lab with Sarah Brasiel. He said the research she was doing aligned with his vision. Currently, Clarence works for the STEM Action Center, the type of place he envisioned himself working at. "I now have the privilege of working in my dream job right out of graduate school!"
 
 

Huck Stewart 

MEd Outstanding Graduate
Huck Stewart
"I remember several classes that allowed for me to change my mind about what education looked like."

Huck currently works as a math teacher and wanted more doors of opportunity to be opened up to him and his students. That's why he chose an MEd at USU in instructional technology. As a teacher, he was able to take some of the learning theories and instructional tools he learned and create entire student-centric courses. He also helped other teachers in his school district create courses and assessments. "The entire instructional practices changed ... because of this program," Huck said regarding the ITLS program at USU. As time goes on, Huck hopes to develop more self-paced math courses, especially those targeted towards Spanish-speaking students. He could even see himself teaching older age groups at an online school.

 

Minnie Dayton

MEd Outstanding Graduate
"There is always so much to learn. One constant in technology is change."
Minnie was working part time at a middle school when she decided to complete the work for a library endorsement. That's when she came to USU for a degree. Currently, Minnie is working as a school librarian and next year she will be a full-time librarian.


Stephanie Benson

MLTID Outstanding Graduate
and Master Student Research of the Year
Stephanie Benson
"Working with and befriending my ITLS colleagues has made this grad school experience irreplaceable for me."

Stephanie's undergraduate degree was in middle childhood education, but she did not to be a classroom teacher. After learning about instructional design, she steered herself towards USU. Part of the reason she chose Logan is the accessibility to the mountains and the beauty of the area. After her first semester in the ITLS program, she learned she could combine her love for technology, learning, and nature. She loved working with other students and faculty, especially Dr. Breanne Litts. "I've learned that taking advantage of opportunities that come my way, whether they're exciting or terrifying, is somehow beneficial," she explained. She is currently on the job hunt. She hopes to find a job in informal education in a museum or nature center, especially one that might take her out of the United States.

 

Dr. David Feldon

Faculty Research of the Year
David Feldon
"It is very important to uphold your personal integrity in your work."

Dr. Feldon is a professor. His research examines two lines of inquiry that are distinct but mutually supportive. The first characterizes the cognitive components of expertise as they contribute to effective and innovative problem solving as well as how they affect the quality of instruction that experts can provide. The second examines the development of research skills within STEM disciplines as a function of instruction and other educational support mechanisms. Dr. Feldon believes scholarship needs to be held to a high standard so it can be used to guide policy. He recognizes that often means it is slow and unglamorous. "The pace and stakes of research in academia have never been higher," he explains. "There is always pressure to cut corners in favor of more publishable, more fundable, or trendier ideas that may lack strong conceptual and empirical foundations." Please see his faculty page to learn more.

 

Dr. Jody Clarke-Midura

Graduate Faculty Mentor of the Year
Jody Clarke-Midura

"Students bring fresh ideas and new perspectives."
Dr. Clarke-Midura is an assistant professor. She was a researcher before she had the opportunity to work with students. Her research investigates the design, research, and evaluation of digital media for learning and assessment (e.g virtual environments, games, or simulations). Prior to USU, she was a researcher at the Education Arcade at MIT where she was part of a team that developed a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) to teach math and science skills. She led a project that developed Virtual Performance Assessments to assess science inquiry and has worked on dynamic formative assessments for biology simulations. Her current research focuses on broadening participation in computer science. She has been running summer camps on App Inventor and studying how it affects girls’ interest in computer science and programming. She is currently running a camp this Summer. She is also investigating how we can use games in K-12 to teach computational thinking. "Mentors are an important part of the graduate experience and I am honored that my students nominated me as graduate mentor of the year," she said. Please see her faculty page to learn more.
 
 

Breanne Litts

Undergraduate Mentor of the Year
and Faculty Instructor of the Year
Breanne Litts
"My perspective as an instructor/mentor is that everyone comes to the table with something to contribute."

Dr. Litts is an assistant professor. Dr. Litts investigates how people learn by and collaborate through making, designing, and producing. She also develops technologies and learning environments to support these activities. Her scholarly interests combine identity, learning, design, and technology. Dr. Litts understands that the academic and industry world can be competitive. She feels her job as an instructor and mentor entails getting everyone to contribute in a spirit of collaboration. She wants to help her students understand the piece they can contribute. "As I designer," she explains, "I fundamentally believe that every person offers unique expertise; therefore, we can achieve more interesting, innovative things by working together rather than against each other." Dr. Litts has enjoyed working with ITLS students and building her lab at USU. "The students, both graduate and undergraduate, have been phenomenal." Please see her faculty page to learn more.
 
 

Katarina Pantic

Student Instructor of the Year
"I believe students picked up on honest investment on my side."

Katarina comes to Logan from Eastern Europe where she spent six years teaching languages. Technology inspired her teaching practices. "I soon realized the power of technology in enriching their language learning experience," she said. She decided she needed to come to USU, one of the best universities in the country for instructional technology. Dr. Clarke-Midura is her current mentor. She says Dr. Clarke-Midura provides her with a "true apprenticeship experience." She attempted to transfer that to her own classroom which paid off because she won this year's award for student instructor of the year. She plans to continue assisting faculty in research and working on her own project as she continues in the program.

 

Dallin Graham

Alumni Achievement Award
Dallin Graham
"USU ITLS has been involved in some really neat projects and is part of an awesome network."

Dallin started as a pre-med student as an undergraduate. He quickly realized he needed to come back to his passion. "I love learning and considering how to improve it," he stated. "It's what I think about when I don't have to think about anything else." He feels he has gained the most from understanding learning theory, the design process, and research. He was able to participate in some engaging research project as a master's student which helped him discover his niche. He felt incredibly connected to projects outside of the university as well because of the strength of the faculty. Currently, he's working in USU Extensions with STEM learning. He feels it's one of the best jobs in the world.
 
 

Mikaylie Kartchner

Alumni Achievement Award
Mikaylie Kartchner

Mikaylie started her career pursuits as a journalist, which is what she majored in as an undergraduate. After a recognition of excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists and years of writing experience, she realized print newspaper was dying. That's when she set her sites on USU's ITLS program. Mikaylie has designed successful training programs for Alliant Tech Systems, Wal-Mart, Amway Global, Purina, and CVS. Currently, she works for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a learning strategist and designer. Her two most recent projects have won international recognition. My Plan, a course to help missionaries plan life after their missionary service, won an eLearning Guild “Best Soft Skills” award at Learning Solutions 2016. In the same year, There’s a Monster in the Library, a comic-book style course that teaches library literacy, was featured at another eLearning Guild conference.

 

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