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Mike Lerner in front of wooden backdrop

College of Science faculty honored with online learning awards

By Mary Hare
Mike Lerner, professor in chemistry

Last May, Chemistry Department Head Mike Lerner (pictured above) and Instructor Marita Barth received two of the most prestigious awards offered by Oregon State’s Ecampus program: the 2019 Innovation Award, and the Excellence in Online Teaching and Student Engagement Award, respectively. Both awardees are particularly appreciated by their students for their dedication to making chemistry accessible and engaging to the online community.

For Lerner, the Innovation Award is a recognition of his “innovations in online courses pertaining to design, pedagogy and/or media development,” an Ecampus article explains.

Mike Lerner in front of black backdrop
2019 Ecampus Innovation Award winner Mike Lerner, chemistry professor.

Recently, Lerner spearheaded an undertaking to digitalize the chemistry lab, allowing Ecampus students to simulate the hands-on learning experience they would have in the lab. The technology enables OSU professors to teach more effectively, overcoming the obstacle of teaching a lab-science to students in scattered locations around the world.

Excitingly, the partnership is in the process of licensing their teaching innovation to be used in universities around the globe, allowing students from all different backgrounds to have a stimulating and realistic experience even if they are unable to attend the lab themselves.

2019 Ecampus Excellence in Online Teaching and Student Engagement Award winner Marita Barth, chemistry instructor. Barth received the Excellence in Online Teaching and Student Engagement Award for “her excellent balance of course rigor and encouragement of student success,” the article reads.

“Never for a moment did I believe my learning was anything other than utmost importance to her. A lifelong student, I can assure you that her skills as an educator are a rare and precious gift for students,” a student explains.

Marita Barth in front of black backdrop
2019 Ecampus Excellence in Online Teaching and Student Engagement Award winner Marita Barth, chemistry instructor.

Barth is renowned in the Ecampus community for her creative use of video learning and her ceaseless dedication to student success. Students attest that she sets clear and achievable goals for students early on in the term, collecting standards throughout the term to track their progress and adjust her teaching accordingly.

“Dr. Barth took a subject as intimidating as chemistry and explained it in a way that made it easy and fun to learn…” another student explains. “She made me love chemistry!”

The Oregon State Ecampus program has been ranked third in the nation, with over 60 programs and 24,000 students around the world. In addition to offering a complete chemistry sequence online, the Department of Integrative Biology is also the first in the nation to offer a fully online Bachelor’s Degree in Zoology.
This prestige is thanks to the constant dedication of the many OSU faculty like Barth and Lerner, who have devoted their time to improving the organization and making it more accessible to everyone.

Read more in the Ecampus story.