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Past Winners of the Teacher of the Week

Dan Thorp

   

The Center for Instructional Development and Educational Research (CIDER) recognizes Dan Thorp, associate professor of History, for using technology to give undergraduates in Blacksburg an international perspective on the history of the United States.

Working with a colleague at the University of Kent, in Canterbury, England, this fall semester Dr. Thorp taught a class on the American Revolution in which students from the University of Kent and Virginia Tech met together through an interactive video classroom. Each week, students read an assortment of primary source documents, pamphlets and speeches presenting both American and English views. Student discussion-leaders then communicated with one another via e-mail, Facebook, and Skype to discuss the readings and decide among themselves which points to emphasize in class and how. Then, when class began, students and faculty engaged in a lively Trans-Atlantic dialogue. Students in both classes, here and at Kent, spoke positively of the experience, describing the class as “exciting” and “transformative.” Students remarked enthusiastically on the opportunity to get to know students from overseas and engage regularly with them.

Dr. Thorp’s collaboration with the History department at the University of Kent grew out of an ongoing initiative in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to bring together faculty and students from different universities across the world. Dr. Thorp’s class was the pilot run with Kent and likely will be repeated in the spring of 2103.

Dr. Thorp is well-known for his innovative undergraduate teaching. Since joining the faculty at Virginia Tech, he has earned two Certificates of Teaching Excellence and was part of an interdisciplinary team that received the XCaliber Award for Excellence in Technology-assisted Teaching and Learning for their creation of a Digital History Reader. Director of the Curriculum for Liberal Education, he nevertheless still teaches regularly both large and small classes, and his students undertake innovative undergraduate research projects. His ongoing research on African-American communities in Montgomery County will serve as the grounding for research opportunities offered to his students in his Topics class in the Spring of 2012.





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