Severance wins Excellent Instructor Award

Clinical Associate Professor Charles Severance has received the School of Information's first Excellent Instructor Award.

Severance received the accolade on Wednesday, April 13 before an audience of students and faculty from UMSI and around the University. To mark the occasion, he delivered a lecture on “Enabling the Next Generation of Teaching and Learning Technology at Michigan.”

In his talk, Severance asked what it will take for teachers and learners to feel empowered by learning technology rather than imprisoned by it. Learning management systems have been around for over a decade, yet their impact on education has been minimal, he said. Web 2.0 provides an alluring vision of what is possible, but there is little evidence that new Web 2.0 technologies are used in teaching and learning at scale. The lecture examined the barriers to innovation in the teaching and learning technology space and considers ways that those barriers can be overcome and lead to true teacher and learner empowerment.

The talk included a look at some of the groundbreaking work on teaching and learning technology at the University of Michigan. U-M was a leader in building the Sakai open source learning management system. Michigan has played a founding and continuing role in the IMS Global Learning Consortium's efforts to develop standards for content and technology interchange between disparate Learning Management Systems, and emerging trends in teacher-centered Open Educational Resources.

Included was a sneak peek at the design of the next-generation user interface for CTools/Sakai, with new features for social learning and support for producing Open Educational Resources being developed as part of an independent study course at the School of Information.

Severance, known as "Dr. Chuck" to his students, is also faculty coordinator of the Tailored specialization in the Master of Science in Information program and a founding faculty member of the informatics concentration undergraduate degree program.

Before joining the UMSI faculty in 2007, he was executive director of the Sakai Foundation and chief architect of the Sakai Project at the University of Michigan.

He is the author of High Performance Computing and Using the Google App Engine, both published by O'Reilly and Associates. He is also a co-investigator on the National Science Foundation National Middleware Initiative grid portal project.

Severance has taught computer science courses at both U-M and Michigan State University. He has developed several tools to assist in the production of multimedia Web-based lectures: the Sync-O-Matic 3000 and ClipBoard-2000.

The professor is active in television and radio as a hobby and has co-hosted several television shows, including Nothin' but Net and Internet:TCI. He appeared for more than 10 years as an expert on Internet and technology on a call-in radio program in East Lansing, Michigan on WKAR.

Posted April 14, 2010