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C2C Digital Magazine (Spring / Summer 2019)

Colleague 2 Colleague, Author

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Winners of 2019 SIDLIT Awards

By Linda Merillat, Washburn University

At SIDLIT (Summer Institute on Distance Learning and Instructional Technology), we have four awards we present to outstanding individuals in their area of expertise.   

Outstanding Online Course Award 

The Outstanding Online Course Award is given to an individual who: 
  • Creates student-focused, learning-oriented innovations in technology to facilitate learning. 
  • Demonstrates best practices in online course design including innovative strategies that actively engage students. 
  • Actively pursues avenues for personal, continuous improvement to facilitate the use of technology in online learning. 

The winner for this year’s Outstanding Online Course Award is Jeni McRay. 

Dr. Jeni McRay, Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies with Fort Hays State University, understands that students often don't see interconnectedness between concepts in a course. She uses concept maps (Cmaps platform) to illustrate this connectedness for students, directly across the learning modules (See screen capture in Drive) for the entire course. Dr. McRay's course facilitation in LDRS802: Organizational Systems, Change, and Leadership is a model of best practices in online course design. She creates rhythm from first week, which allows for students to reserve their cognitive load for deep dives into the reading and the substantive projects. Dr. McRay began her work at FHSU as an adjunct instructor, and even in this somewhat limited role, she was tireless in her efforts to improve her instruction. She gradually moved into a full-time online position and is now preparing to move into a position of greater responsibility, facilitating support and faculty development for adjuncts in her department. 

Outstanding Teacher Award 

The Outstanding Teacher Award is given to an individual who: 

  • Creates student-focused, learning-oriented solutions in their classroom. 
  • Demonstrates best practices in pedagogical strategies. 
  • Shows an outstanding penchant for student outreach, communication, and inclusivity. 

The winner for this year’s Outstanding Teacher Award is Daniel Stramara. 

Dr. Daniel Stramara, Professor of Theology and Religious Studies with Rockhurst University, engages in explicit instruction through the use of innovative videos. His course orientation recordings use humor and live animals to create a welcoming start to the learning experience and pull students right into the heart of his course.  He uses not just one animal, but several different ones!  He is patient and provides clear direction from the student’s perspective on how to navigate and manage his or her online learning experience.  Congratulations, Daniel! 

Outstanding Technical Support Award 

The Outstanding Technical Support Award is given to an individual who: 

  • Creates an environment for educational technology exploration, innovation, and usage among faculty and students. 
  • Exemplifies customer service in assisting those using instructional technology. 

Nominations for this award this year included Brian Dye, Assistant Director of Butler Online with Butler Community College and the Ed Tech Center support staff with Johnson County Community College for their years of support and service to C2C and this conference. 

The winner for this year’s Outstanding Technical Support Award is Brian Dye. 

Brian Dye, Assistant Director of Butler Online with Butler Community College, explores all new educational technologies - tests them and connects with faculty who are (traditionally) early adopters and whom he thinks may benefit from his findings. Brian is consistently being innovative and finding quicker and easier ways to do things to save faculty time, energy and better align their content with pedagogical style. Brian strives to ensure software and practices are on the cutting edge at Butler. Faculty look to him as an innovator and someone that can solve any problem with the proper educational tools. Brian goes the extra mile at Butler by developing meaningful relationships with faculty to identify their comfort levels with technology. From those relationships he is able to figure out ways to train and provide real tools that are geared towards specific faculty needs.  Congratulations, Brian! 

Jonathan Bacon Outstanding Leadership Award 

The Jonathan Bacon Outstanding Leadership Award is given to an individual who: 

  • Demonstrates setting organizational direction or creates a climate to create an innovative, technology-based, student-centered organization. 
  • Promotes diverse ideas among faculty and students to enhance a culture of technology usage. 
  • Remains current on innovation and identifies funding streams to support a technology-rich environment. 

Nominations for this award this year include Brad Bennett, Vice President of Academic Affairs with Colby Community College and Rebecca Gould, Director of the Information Technology Assistance Center at K-State. 

The winner for this year’s Jonathan Bacon Outstanding Leadership Award is Rebecca Gould. 

Dr. Rebecca Gould, Director of the Information Technology Assistance Center (iTAC) at K-State, has created a service-oriented public-facing unit that is the first point of contact for all students, faculty, staff, and administrators on campus. “Dr. G” has stood up and managed a range of services continuously: the IT construction unit, the client services unit, the Media Development Center, an equipment checkout desk, a training contingent to provide trainings around campus, an IT Help Desk, and has overseen numerous transitions of technology systems.  She is unfailingly gracious and patient as she engages with administrators, professors, students, and staff.  She observes, and she listens. Her orientation is to support those on campus in their study, their research, their planning, their design, their artistry, their collaborations, and other work. As part of her work, Dr. Gould deals often with vendors and technology needs. She does her homework and engages the facts and features of technologies. Balancing a dynamic budget with so many new and continuing expenditures, staff, professional development, travel needs, is no small feat. It is to Dr. Gould’s credit that she has finessed these gracefully and without direct pressures on her staff.  She is a solid, ethical, and warm leader.  Congratulations, Rebecca! 


If you’ve never nominated someone for one of these awards, I encourage you to begin thinking now of someone you can nominate for one of next year’s awards.  We all interact with individuals who demonstrate outstanding performance, and they deserve to be recognized for it!! 

The 2019 Awards Sub-Committee consisted of Drs. Greg Rose and Linda Merillat.  A major thank you to all the people of Colleague 2 Colleague who submitted the nominations and took the time to honor their coworkers and associates.

About the Author

Dr. Linda Merillat's experience and skills represent a union between technology, education, and interaction design. In the course of her career she has played many different roles: programmer, systems analyst, business analyst, interaction designer, program manager, project manager, consultant, trainer, educator, instructional designer, researcher, author, and entrepreneur. The common thread running throughout has always been the challenge of how to successfully use and integrate the latest technology into an organization. She currently directs the Faculty Support Center, and online faculty center open to any faculty member, and a faculty position with the role of instructional designer at School of Nursing at Washburn University, Topeka, KS.

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