Open Education – DCU Connected Tutor Awards and Festive Coffee Morning

Usually around this time of year, everyone in the Open Education Unit would be celebrating the season together with festive treats and mulled wine. While 2020 has been a very different one, that hasn’t stopped us from celebrating the hard work and commitment of our many DCU Connected tutors working for Open Education. Accordingly, last week we hosted a virtual Festive Coffee Morning to recognise their hard work and commitment to supporting our fully online DCU Connected programmes. With an attendance of over 40 people from all of the country, and indeed the world, it was a fantastic way to end the year and reconnect with colleagues after a challenging few months.

Every year, we recognise three of our 90+ part-time teaching staff with awards for excellence in teaching and this year is no different. Receiving their awards in the post and getting a special mention at our coffee morning, we made sure their work was recognised. This year’s awardees are profiled below…

DCU Connected BA in Humanities Tutor of the Year – Dr Sophia Pallaro

Sophia has a passion for sociology and is extremely thorough with her explanations and engaging tutorials. She has an infectious enthusiasm for sociology and provides unambiguous feedback on assignments while being very encouraging. Sophia is always very helpful, informative and enthusiastic which resonates with all her students.

Student Feedback:

  • I found the tutorials both informative and stimulating and appreciated the opportunities Sophia gave us for discussion
  • I really enjoyed this module. Sophia is a very engaging and encouraging tutor. 
  • Sophia was very helpful throughout the module with very clear directions and really helpful feedback on all my assignments.

DCU Connected IT Programmes Tutor of the Year – Philip Carey

Philip has been tutoring on our Communications Technology modules for the last five years.  In that time he has consistently brought the subject to life for the students by leveraging his vast experience in this dynamic field.  He regularly receives highly positive feedback from his students for his knowledge, ability, feedback and indeed his patience.  He is a highly valued member of our Open Education team and a pleasure to work with.

Student Feedback:

  • Philip was a brilliant tutor, easy to understand and explained material we covered very well. He was passionate about what he was teaching which made it more interesting to learn it.”
  • Philip is an excellent tutor, made the classes interesting and broke down some very complex topics into ways that were easy to understand.
  • Philip Carey was excellent. He was very approachable and knowledgeable where we had any questions or needed help.

DCU Connected Postgraduate Programmes Tutor of the Year – Ann Whyte

Ann graduated from our M.Sc. Management for Sustainable Development programme as the overall top graduate across our five M.Sc. programmes in 2018. In 2019, she joined our staff as an academic developer and programme tutor. Ann’s commitment to developing excellent sustainable development academic material across our programmes is equally matched by her support to colleagues and her endless generosity to students. Ann goes above and beyond  to ensure her students have a very positive experience at DCU and that they reach their academic potential. She is a most worthy winner of Open Education’s 2020 Postgraduate Tutor of the Year.  

Student Feedback:

  • I would like to acknowledge the support, and assistance I received from my dissertation supervisor, Ann Whyte. Her guidance and patience throughout this research project have been incomparable .
  • I would sincerely like to thank my dissertation supervisor, Ann Whyte, for your encouragement, feedback and all round support throughout this dissertation process.
  • I would like to thank my supervisor Ann Whyte for her support and extensive knowledge in this area. She has offered continuous guidance and encouragement throughout this process.

A Big Thanks to the Whole Team

Throughout 2020 all of our tutors went an extra mile to ensure the highest quality of delivery and support was provided to our DCU Connected students through this difficult year. To recognise this, each tutor received a DCU Mug in the post just in time for the coffee morning!

The Open Education team hope all of our tutors, students and industry partners have a restful break as you enjoy the festivities of the season and we wish you all the best for the year to come! We know that 2021 will bring further challenges but the resilience developed over the past year will hold us in good stead for the start of Semester 2 in January.

Tutor Awards for Teaching and Learning Excellence

We are delighted to announce our annual tutor awards for teaching excellence. Each year our online students supported by the Open Education Unit are asked to nominate the distance learning tutors who they believe display professional excellence in teaching and learning. We particularly encourage the nomination of tutors whose work over the year was exemplary and through whom students felt really valued as members of our unique DCU Connected experience.

This important award was created six years ago in order to highlight and recognise the dedication, professionalism and teaching excellence of the online distance learning academic teaching staff. The deserving recipients of the 2016-2017 DCU Connected Tutor Awards are listed below:

1. Undergraduate Humanities Programmes

Award 1Megan Gaffney has been an online distance learning tutor, in psychology, in Dublin City University since 2007, and has also lectured in Trinity College Dublin and Hibernia College. Megan developed the Abnormal Psychology and Psychological Counselling module. Megan is a Registered Counselling Psychologist with the Psychological Society of Ireland, working with adolescents and adults in primary care and with secondary school students in the Kildare/Wicklow ETB. She is Chair of the Psychological Society of Ireland’s Division of Counselling Psychology and also a member of the PSI Council. Megan has published in the area of suicide prevention and postvention. She is currently completing a PhD in TCD, which is funded in part by the Irish Research Council, looking at risk factors and resilience in adolescents.

What students say about Megan…

“Excellent tutor with good assignment info and feedback”

“My favourite module this year and also the best tutor of this year!”

Megan is a very supportive tutor who makes any subject easy to understand, this is the second module I’ve had her as a tutor.”

“Megan is an excellent tutor. Her professionalism is above par. She was a very engaging and extremely knowledgable tutor both face to face and online. Also, she was very timely in responding to loop questions and emails. “

“Megan was brilliant, content and quality of delivery was excellent. Provided me with some really good feedback on my assignments too.”

2. Undergraduate Information Technology Programmes

Award 2Adrian Redmond is a Central Statistics Office statistician who has been an online distance learning tutor, in Maths and Stats, in Dublin City University for over 15 years. Despite his subject being one students typically think they will find difficult, they end up loving it and being amazed at what they have learned, and what they now understand. 

What students say about Adrian…

Adrian Raymond is the best Math teacher I ever had!”

“The amount of effort that he puts into the online tutorials and answering questions in Loop is inspirational.”

Despite this subject not being my forte Adrian Redmond managed to explain it in a very understandable way. He is quick to respond to queries, helpful and provides good feedback from assignments.”

“He was very clear and concise in explaining the module material. Without a shadow of a doubt, the tutor is the major strengths of this module. Adrian Redmond is so well prepared for the online lectures that nothing is left unexplained. His easy going manner and depth of knowledge on the module is inspiring and it somehow, subconsciously, wills you to do better.”

3. Postgraduate Programmes

John Byrne is a longstanding member of the postgraduate team. He is a willing and active member of the Programme Board, showing his dedication to continual improvement, and a mentor to new tutors.
Award 3John is known for the way that he facilitates student learning with enthusiasm, dedication, creativity and considerable flair. He has been the “go to” tutor for over 14  years who, despite his part-time status, gives round the clock professional commitment to his students. No request for assistance ever goes unanswered. John has experienced teaching online from every angle, as a part-time student at undergraduate and postgraduate level before becoming an excellent distance learning Tutor.  He carries that experience with him in his interactions with our adult, online part-time learners. No challenge fazes John, and as he patiently advises students at our DCU Connected Welcome Day each year, “there is no such thing as a stupid question”.  

What students say about John…

In the words of a recent Springboard participant:

“John was the tutor that I had the most direct exposure to over the past year through online tutorials and assignment feedback. I found John to be outstanding in the role of tutor and he significantly facilitated me to achieve my academic goals. He is a popular figure with the students and his insightful online tutorials were always well received.”   

Thanks to all our Tutors

Once again we would like to congratulate Megan, Adrian and John who were presented with their Tutor Awards in Dublin last week by senior members of the Open Education team. We would also like to thank and acknowledge the valued contribution of our extensive network of DCU Connected tutors around Ireland for their efforts in supporting our online students. The Open Education team wishes everyone a good Christmas holiday break before we start the examination period in the New Year and  our next semester gets underway.