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SLIS Faculty Finds a Silver Lining to 2020 and Wins Award

Creativity – albeit forced creativity – became the order of the day when teachers and programs pivoted to online learning for the end of the 2020 and the entire 2020-2021 school years. In recognition of the optimism and innovations of the faculty, Simmons dedicated a $10,000 Presidential Grant from the Davis Education Foundation to a Post-Pandemic Innovative Teaching Award, colloquially called the “Silver Linings” Award. Out of more than thirty applications, eighteen faculty members were recognized, including SLIS’s own Professor Lisa Hussey.

Professor Lisa Hussey

Professor Hussey was recognized for her implementation of a flipped classroom to foster meaningful remote engagement and to engender class community even from afar. An initial hurdle for Professor Hussey was imagining how to transition her course Reader’s Advisory, built around class discussions of nine novels and the application of genre theory, to a remote setting. Although Professor Hussey had taught other courses virtually, she never imagined this course in a remote learning setting. However, thanks to the success she had with transitioning it online, Professor Hussey plans to offer the class virtually this spring too. 

A flipped classroom involves the “flipping” of learning in which students listen to pre-recorded lectures and then bring this foundational content knowledge to class where they test out their understanding of the lectures through in-class activities and discussions. Through this process, students spend time deepening their understanding of material through debate and application rather than simply learning new material for the first time. Professor Hussey found that this mode really created an active, dynamic setting for student engagement. In particular, she found that whole class discussions resulted in a richer understanding of the course material because students were able to dive deeper into the small group discussions since they had already had time to process the lecture material for that week. Then, when everyone came back to discuss ideas as a whole group, students were more engaged and made more complex assertions. Students, too, seemed to love this mode of learning as it helped them develop a stronger sense of class community in a time and form of learning that has felt unbearably isolating at times. 

Moving forward, Professor Hussey hopes to continue to use online tools to create a sense of community for both her in-person and virtual courses. For any students feeling skeptical about trying out a flipped-classroom, Professor Hussey encourages students to take a chance on this new method of learning that allows students to pause and rewatch lecture material in addition to engaging more directly with peers during class time. 

If you would like to learn more about the innovative practices professors at Simmons implemented during the pandemic, check out this article highlighting each of the Silver Linings recipients’ creativity!