“Self-Paced Online Courses Would be Valuable to Other Institutions in the System”
Sheryne Southard, JD, associate professor of legal studies/paralegal studies at Clayton State University, was honored with the Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for Online Teaching at the annual Regents’ Scholarship Gala of the University System of Georgia, held Mar. 28 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
Southard earned the Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award for her use of, “a variety of modalities to engage online students and encourage participation in her courses. The committee noted that the self-paced online course she created would be valuable to other institutions in the System. Southard’s use of reflection to improve courses was also impressive to the committee.”
In addition to the significance of Southard’s pioneering work with Self-Paced Online Courses (SPOC), she also became the first faculty member in the state to be awarded the yearly Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award and the yearly Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award.
Each year the University System of Georgia (USG) solicits nominations from the 31 System institutions for excellence in teaching and scholarship. As a result, 12 faculty or departments throughout the USG are awarded the yearly Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award and the yearly Regents’ Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award. Prior to this year, a single faculty member had never won both awards, considered to be the highest honor for faculty at Georgia’s public colleges and universities.
A 2011 recipient of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, Southard’s most recent honor is for her online teaching over the past 10 years. While she has received a great deal of notoriety recently for her development of the Clayton State SPOC, she points out that the vast majority of her supporting documentation for the award is relative to her own online instruction experiences. Indeed, as noted in 2010 when Southard won the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning Award, she is, “passionate about developing online courses that possess the same dynamic and engaging learning environment as traditional courses.”
“I am extremely grateful that the panel of faculty and administrators from across the state selected me for the Regents’ Teaching Excellence Award for online teaching,” says Southard. “First, it is a validation that online education can be as academically rigorous as traditional instruction. Secondly, an award of this magnitude is not the result of my singular efforts. It is the result of a team of people that have all contributed to the body of my work over the past decade.
“My department head, Dr. Rafik Mohammed, is a great visionary that saw the potential benefits of the self-paced online course format and introduced it to this University. Dr. Kevin Demmitt, Dr. Nasser Momayezi and Dr. Jill Lane had the foresight that an innovative approach to online learning could benefit our students and allocated resources to allow it to come to fruition. David Pena, who worked with me in the spring and Dr. Josh Meddaugh and Dr. Adam Tate, who are currently working with me to develop dynamic and engaging instructional content for the self-paced online courses. Lastly, Christopher White, Clayton State multimedia designer, who has provided me with his creativity to expertly create multimedia course content.”