2011 DAVINCI FELLOWS
Professor Akram Taghaviâ Burris was establishing herself as a graphic designer in the Oklahoma City Community when she answered the call to become a faculty member at Oklahoma City Community College to lead the new Game Design and Development program. While in her first year of teaching she also added a companion program in Computer Animation to the curriculum. She has approached the challenge of developing two programs in these new academic areas in a creative and exciting ways.
She founded the Oklahoma Adobe User Group to create a place where students and professionals can interact. From that Professor Taghaviâ Burris guided the student organization to create the Oklahoma Electronic Game Expo.
The Oklahoma Electronic Game Expo is an annual event that brings in authorities from the video game, graphic arts, and video production fields to give presentations, host panels and present their work. The event is free to the public and promotes the video game and computer animation industry in Oklahoma as well as giving the participants a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes into the inner workings of these careers. The first year was a small event with a few vendors and sessions with local professionals. It has grown each year to the point that the 2010 Oklahoma Electronic Game Expo attracted over one thousand attendees from Oklahoma and three neighboring states to participate in informative sessions and panels. This year’s event also included student competitions in game design and computer animation. The keynote speaker was Ralf Baer, the inventor of Pong.
Dr. Kimberly Merritt is a professor of Management and Marketing at Oklahoma Christian University’s School of Professional Studies. Through her teaching, she has exhibited intuition and innovation in teaching critical thinking to students through her business classes. In the business world, critical thinking is the key to innovation, problem solving and creative thinking. For example her students analyze websites and discuss how to improve functionality and security. To impart the knowledge of applying this way of thinking to students in a classroom setting is difficult, but Dr. Merritt has taken another step beyond and strives to teach this to students on line.
Her creative approaches have been very successful in helping students perceive and function within different levels of critical thinking. Dr. Merritt has shown incredible insight in teaching students a skill that they will use throughout their lives.
Mrs. Mitzie Miller is an instructor in the Medical Laboratory Technician program at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College (NEO) . She created a distance learning program in Medical Laboratory Technology to serve regions of Oklahoma that did not have MLT programs nearby. This distance program serves regions of Oklahoma, which do not have programs located close to their homes thereby providing greatly needed medical laboratory technicians to rural hospitals and clinics
Many colleges choose not to offer a medical laboratory technician program because they are costly to initiate and to operate and produce a small number of graduates. The alternative to initiating new programs is to expand the existing programs through distance learning. Educational institutions have been slow to develop distance formats for MLT students due to the nature of the hands-on laboratory experiences and developing affiliation agreements with clinical agencies in distant locations. The initial target areas were the southwestern region of the state, the southern region of central Oklahoma, and the northern region of central Oklahoma. The major challenge in designing the distance program is to provide a laboratory experience that prepares students for the skills they will be doing in the clinical experience and in practice. Mrs. Miller addressed this issue through the development of short on-campus laboratory experiences, virtual laboratory experiences, at home laboratory assignments, and visits to clinical laboratories close to the student’s location.
Dr. ChihChen Sophia Lee is music faculty member at Southwestern Oklahoma State University and was responsible for redesigning the Music Therapy curriculum. Adapting distance education features in her instruction addresses the importance of organization and critical thinking skills which are as crucial to a music therapist as to other future professionals. The decision on whether a class should be either completely web-based, Hybrid/Blended, or conventional is based on the attendees’ learning styles and course objectives to be achieved instead of the temptation of being merely “technologically savvy.”
Students also practice music therapy techniques selected from the actual clinical dilemmas by experienced music therapy educators via role-plays (student music therapists vs. clients) and other experiential learning methods, concluded by discussions of (1) the effective elements of managing the clinical concerns from the demonstration, and (2) areas for improvements and possible alternative approaches. Her students are actively involved in the problem solving processes that motivate the exercise of critical thinking skills and teamwork. The significance of networking with other professionals and music therapy students in other programs is reinforced via co-treatments projects and the “Swap Shop,” where students exchange musical experiences that may be adopted for an effective therapeutic intervention.
Among other accomplishments, Dr. Lee has been instrumental in establishing the faculty and student exchange program with Taipei Municipal Education University.