Call for Nominations for the 2013 Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant Awards

posted in: News | 0


The purpose of these awards is to acknowledge and recognize outstanding graduate teaching assistants for their contributions to the teaching mission of Northern Illinois University.


Each recipient of the award will be presented with a plaque and recognized at the Graduate Student Reception sponsored by the Graduate School at the end of the spring semester. Usually three awards are presented, and at least one of the awards will be presented to an outstanding graduate teaching assistant pursuing a master’s degree at NIU.


To be eligible for this award, each candidate must:

  1. be enrolled as a graduate student in good standing at NIU during the semester the award nominations are due,
  2. have been employed during the past 2 years at NIU as a graduate teaching assistant for one or more semesters, excluding the semester of nomination,
  3. have been responsible for teaching a course fully as the primary instructor of record or teaching-related support (example: leading discussions, grading, tutoring, recitation, etc.) which involved student contact as part of the graduate teaching assistant employment,
  4. have contributed above and beyond the general expectations of the position,
  5. have not previously received this award at NIU.

Nomination Process and Deadline

Each academic or academic support unit that employs graduate TAs for teaching and related activities is invited to nominate two (2) outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistants, one at the master’s level and the other at the doctoral level, from its department/school for the awards. Nominations should be submitted by the head of the academic department/school or designee. Nominators must complete the nomination form for each nominee and email it with any supporting documents by Friday, March 8, 2013 to with the subject line “Nomination for 2013 Outstanding TA Awards”.

Additional Information

For additional information, please check the Frequently Asked Questions section or contact Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center at 815-753-8100 or

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. What are the criteria applied for selecting award recipients?
    The criteria applied for selecting award recipients are the nominees’ eligibility for the award and the information provided in the “Nominee Information” portion of the Nomination Form.
  2. My school/department has several majors/programs and so can we nominate a TA from each major/program?
    No, each school or department can nominate only one TA at the master’s level and one TA at the doctoral level. If there are many outstanding graduate teaching assistants in several programs within the department/school, then you may want to select the best one among them and nominate that individual for that award.
  3. Our unit is not a department or school but is an independent academic program/center. Are our teaching assistants eligible for the award?If your TA is teaching a course or providing teaching-related support for your academic program/ center that is independent of an academic department or school, then you can nominate that TA as a nominee from your program/center for the award.
  4. Can I nominate a TA teaching or providing teaching-related support in my department/school but pursuing a degree in another department/school?Yes, you can nominate that TA as a nominee from your department/school.
  5. How can I find out which TA development programs our TA attended at Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center?If your TA does not remember the TA development programs he or she had attended, you can obtain a list of TA development programs your TA attended at Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center by emailing to at least 2 working days before the nomination deadline.
  6. What makes a nomination stand out and improves the nominee’s chances for being selected for the award?Along with providing information for all the items in the nomination form and clearly indicating that the nominee satisfies the eligibility criteria, the nomination form should provide:
    1. A detailed explanation of nominee’s contributions to teaching above and beyond the general expectations of the TA position, that is, outstanding contributions.
    2. Tangible evidence such as summary of nominee’s student evaluations to support nominee’s outstanding teaching or teaching-related support.
    3. It helps if a nominee has received or has been nominated for departmental/school or college teaching awards and has attended or presented professional development programs to enhance his or her teaching skills.

2012 Blackboard Catalyst Awards

posted in: News | 0

Let's build a better education experience

The time is nearing for the 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Awards submission period and Blackboard has announced an update on the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, including the Exemplary Course Program. Several aspects of the program have changed for this year’s award season in hopes of making the program more streamlined and easier to participate. Each year, Blackboard seeks to recognize and promote industry best practices and invites submissions for programs or courses that are believed to be truly exemplary.

Blackboard Catalyst Award LogoWith the Blackboard Catalyst Awards, Blackboard honors those who push the boundaries of their educational programs and technology in order to deliver innovative and effective learning experiences. This year, Blackboard will recognize innovators in the following categories: Community Collaboration, Exemplary Courses, Innovative Development, Mobile Innovation, Staff Development and a new category – Communications Strategy. Check out the full award categories at

Submitting your program or course to the Catalyst Awards has many benefits, including:

  • Develop a fresh perspective by seeing how other institutions are implementing industry best practices
  • Learn course design best practices to improve the engagement, collaboration, assessment and learner support within your own courses or courses you help develop
  • Gain peer, institution, and industry recognition for your accomplishments and participation in the program

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards team has developed a more streamlined timeline for all of the Catalyst Awards. To give you an idea of the new timeline, we have highlighted some important dates below:

  • December 1: Program is Open for Submissions
  • December 1: Call for Reviewers, ECP only
  • February 29: Submission Deadline
  • March 15 – April 7: Peer Review Period
  • Early May: Winners selected for all categories

To stay up-to-date on all things related to the Catalyst Awards, ‘Like’ the Blackboard Catalyst Awards Facebook page!

Please take a look at the ‘Blackboard Catalyst Awards Study Guide’ that has been created to help prepare for a Catalyst Award submission.

If you have any questions, please send an email to

Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center Receives 2011 SLATE Star Award

posted in: News | 0

The NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center has received the 2011 SLATE Star Award in recognition of outstanding contributions and dedicated service to SLATE – Supporting Learning And Technology in Education. Center staff were recognized and presented with the award at the 2011 SLATE Conference at the University of Chicago.
Stephanie Richter, Caroline Conlon, Ken Sakowski presenting award, Jason Rhode, Olga Urban
SLATE – Supporting Learning And Technology in Education, the Midwest Blackboard Users Group, was created from the concept that all institutions that are deploying and/or currently using Web-based components to enhance their teaching and learning activities, have the same questions, the same challenges, and the need for the same solutions. By drawing together the expertise of the people involved in the entire academic experience and those designing, supporting, and using these applications; faculty, support staff, systems administrators, instructional designers, librarians, and students – a broader and more accessible and dynamic support system could be established. The current membership of SLATE encompasses over 80 institutions including K-12, Higher Education, and the Corporate sector.

The SLATE mission is: To support learning and technology in education through communication, collaboration, and innovation while developing a community of practice.

The SLATE Star Award was established in 2004 as a way to recognize an individual who has shown leadership, demonstrated initiatives, presented new ideas, improved procedures, established effective relationships or provided substantial resources that have effected the success and promotion of SLATE, the educational experience, and/or the general Blackboard Community of Practice. For more information about SLATE, visit

1 2