A veteran teacher was named Michigan Virtual’s 2011 Online Teacher of the Year at an awards presentation dinner at the University Club at MSU on Monday, Dec. 5. Julia Swartz of Vermontville was honored for being a true pioneer in working to change the way students learn and educators teach in the state of Michigan.
Swartz has been an online instructor for Michigan Virtual for Students since 2003, where she teaches in a virtual classroom for all schools across Michigan. Swartz also works as the curriculum director at Maple Valley Schools after more than 37 years in the classroom.
Swartz has also held many leadership positions for Michigan Virtual. She has trained other teachers in online instruction, was the English Department chair, a project leader in course development and a presenter at local, state and national conferences for Michigan Virtual.
In online learning, course content and instruction is delivered over the web, with students following lessons, completing assignments and interacting with instructors through email and discussion rooms.
“Our online instructors play a critical role in helping students succeed in drastically new 21st-century learning environments,” Jamey Fitzpatrick, Michigan Virtual CEO & President, said. “They spend countless hours using innovative tools and strategies to support students before, during and after traditional school schedules. Julie and our two finalists (Holly Rupprecht and Ben Ashby) are experienced classroom educators who are working every day to redefine how teachers teach and how students learn in online communities. These dedicated individuals deserve to be recognized as entrepreneurial educators in today’s global educational landscape.”
Online learning is expanding dramatically in Michigan and nationwide. Michigan Virtual for Students has seen its course enrollments climb from 100 during the 1999-2000 academic year to more than 17,000 during 2010-11. National estimates for online enrollments have jumped from 40,000 to 50,000 in 2000 to more than one million last year, according to the International Association for Online Learning (iNACOL).
The presenting sponsor for the award dinner was AT&T, a company with the stated mission of supporting events that benefit education.
“Each and every day, educational opportunities are becoming more mobile, more high-tech and more personalized to every student. Technology and innovation provide access to materials and learning opportunities like never before,” Roger Blake, Regional Vice President, AT&T, said. “Those are opportunities we celebrate with this award today. At AT&T, we understand that by connecting students, we are connecting them to the world around them and an opportunity to learn great things. This is the real reason why we work to expand our network and increase its speed. So students everywhere, and at any time, have high-speed access to a high-quality education.”
About Michigan Virtual
Michigan Virtual is a private, nonprofit Michigan corporation established by the State of Michigan in 1998 to serve as a champion for online learning. It is the parent organization of the Michigan Virtual for Students and Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute.