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Leigh L. Butler and Joel English were selected to share Old Dominion's $500 TELETECHNET Faculty of the Year Award.

Butler, associate adjunct professor of special education, has taught a variety of special education graduate-level courses since 1997 in both the traditional classroom setting and via distance learning. The courses have included Collaboration and Consultation, Trends and Issues in Special Education, Evaluation of Exceptional Children, and Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities.

Students describe her as extremely organized, an excellent lecturer who sets clear expectations, offers practical, real-world experiences and provides assignments that help them be better prepared and more successful in a challenging field.

Butler, who earned her doctorate in urban services with an education concentration from Old Dominion in 1999, is endorsed as a secondary principal, special education teacher in the areas of ED, LD and EMR, and as a history and social science teacher.

As an educator, her experiences range from teaching and coaching, both regular and special education students, to administering diverse educational programs requiring the supervision of both regular and special education teachers. Since 1993 she has served as coordinator of the Southeastern Cooperative Educational Programs, where she administers the Day Re-Ed School Program.

On July 1, Butler will become director of teacher education services in the Darden College of Education.

Joel English, assistant professor of English, joined the department in 1999. Since then he has infused his teaching with his interest in technology.

He teaches Technical Writing, Advanced Composition, the Teaching of Composition and Writing in Cyberspace. He has consistently worked to improve the quality of the learning experience of his students.

While teaching a TELETECHNET class last spring, English decided to explore the question: Can a distance education course be a community? In an attempt to infuse the course with the intimacy and interaction of a small graduate seminar, he structured it so as to try to break the barriers of space between his students, him and each other.

Among his strategies was building a fun, attractive Web site for the course. Students used it not only for assignments, notes and resources, but also to take part in real-time chats, and access pictures and bios of their classmates.

For their first assignment, English asked the students to write a short bio and send him a "graphical representation" of themselves, which went onto the "students" link of the Web site. He also made assignments that asked students to work together across TELETECHNET sites.

Students who participated via video streaming also were involved. English brought their computer-based real-time discussion onto the TV screen so that all of his satellite students could read and react to what they contributed to the class.

This article was posted on: May 31, 2001

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