Brock prof receives international award for innovative teaching

Brock University Professor David Hutchison is one of just five Canadian university professors in 2016 to receive one of the country’s most significant awards for innovative teaching.

Hutchison’s inventive approach to teaching through project-based learning earned him a Brightspace Innovation Award in Teaching and Learning from the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education, the same organization that awards the prestigious 3M Teaching Fellowship. He is the first Brock professor to receive the Brightspace award.

Hutchison, Director of Brock University’s Centre for Digital Humanities and Professor in the Department of Teacher Education, said he’s honoured by the recognition and credits the cross-faculty support he has had at Brock when it comes to innovative teaching.

Brock is really supportive of experimentation and has supports for innovative teaching and also collaboration.

“Brock is really supportive of experimentation and has supports for innovative teaching and also collaboration,” he said.

“What’s unique about what I’m doing is that I’m a certified project manager. I apply project management skills to my work related to project-based learning.”

Hutchison said project-based learning is a collaborative approach that focuses on transferable learning skills such as problem-solving and critical thinking.

“Project-based learning empowers learners to collaborate in teams — mentored by their teachers — as they research real-world questions, pose solutions to real-world problems and design real-world products,” he explained.

“Through project-based learning, students take on ownership of collaborative projects they undertake as a team. They develop skills they can use well beyond the project in other courses and throughout their careers.”

Hutchison, who is currently a Chancellor’s Chair for Teaching Excellence grant holder, is spearheading the new Brock University Design Studio (BUDS). BUDS brings teams of students together from different Brock programs to work on projects such as the IBM-sponsored Arduino rover project.

Hutchison is director of Brock’s Interactive Arts and Science program, which offers a number of project-based courses and this fall is launching a new second-year class called Foundations of Project Management.

Hutchison’s innovative teaching has been recognized at Brock. He was awarded the 2013 Faculty of Education Teaching Award.

Neil McCartney, Brock’s Provost and Vice-President Academic, said the University is proud to see the Brightspace award go to such a deserving recipient in Hutchison.

“David’s approach is an excellent reflection of the innovative attitudes that his Brock colleagues bring to teaching and learning,” said McCartney. “These are the people who are taking Brock to the next level of leadership in this area.”

Hutchison is one of five international post-secondary educators being recognized with the Brightspace award.

“These five exceptional educators are creative leaders who are passionate about providing outstanding learning experiences, opportunities and environments,” said John Baker, president and CEO of Brightspace.

He added they reflect the spirit and values of Brightspace by supporting and encouraging innovate teaching and learning.

“These five educators demonstrate the impact and importance of creativity on learning. Each of these award winners has had a measurable and lasting impact on learners through unique and innovative approaches to teaching and learning,“ said STLHE president Robert Lapp. “STLHE is proud to partner with Brightspace to encourage and support student-centered values and approaches to learning.”

The winners will be recognized at the 2016 STLHE Annual Conference, June 21-24 in London, Ont. and at FUSION, Brightspace’s Global Conference, July 22-26 in Orlando, Fla.

Each of the five winners will receive a two-year membership in STLHE as well as $2,200 toward travel and registration costs for both STLHE’s Annual Conference and FUSION. Click here to read the full press release from STLHE.

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