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TTU News

Three award-winning professors at Tennessee Tech University turn their backs on traditional blackboards and turn on their computers when they want to reach students in an instant.

The professors — Carl Owens, Douglas Airhart and Tom Timmerman — recently received honors for their innovative uses of technology at the Tennessee Board of Regents' Annual Distance Learning Conference. The conference, focused on keeping students connected around the globe, presented Innovations Awards to representatives of several TBR schools who demonstrated the best practices in their fields.

"These professors are helping the university find the best ways to connect students on and off campus to learning opportunities," said Susan Elkins, TTU's dean of Interdisciplinary Studies and Extended Education. "They've chosen to embrace technology and use it to expand the classroom experience."

Owens, TTU’s Director of Instructional Technology and professor of curriculum and instruction, directs Tennessee Tech's 21st Century Classroom Project in support of the state's efforts to help K-12 teachers and students maneuver through the technology jungle. Through a grant of more than $850,000, Owens specializes in bringing technology to rural teachers and focuses on training teachers to integrate multi-media into teaching techniques.

At the university, he supervises the $1 million Horace M. Jeffers 21st Century Production and Teaching Laboratories, a state-of-the-art center for technology and media production. He also supervises six multimedia classrooms designed to support early childhood, elementary and secondary education as well as special education and music. Through Owens' efforts, hundreds of education majors and teachers have access to a learning resource center offering more than 700 software titles.

Owens is now serving his second term as an Apple Distinguished Educator. The ADE program recognizes educators who most innovatively integrate technology into their curriculum. He leads national seminars and conferences demonstrating the latest developments for technology in the classroom.

Timmerman, an associate professor in decision sciences and management, is considered a pioneer in TTU’s College of Business Administration for lending his talents to two successful distance education programs.

In the Distance MBA program, he was the first to offer courses in organizational behavior and employee relations. In the Regents Online Degree Program, he helped develop a leadership course intended for use across disciplines, including business, education, non-profit and healthcare.

With the development of the leadership course, Timmerman initiated TTU’s online Leadership Video Library ( ). This library includes interviews with university, alumni and professional leaders such as TTU President Bob Bell, Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher, and members of the university’s Mayberry Chair of Excellence Board. He plans to continue adding video clips to the library as prominent leaders visit campus and participate. The online video library is available to the public as well as the campus community.

Airhart received recognition for his nationally recognized web site, A professor of horticulture and a certified arborist, he launched the site in 2002 to assist others in learning and teaching the best practices for tree care. Using tutorial articles, photo galleries and streaming video clips, the site provides information about selecting, transplanting, maintaining and protecting trees and offers pest alerts and other seasonal advice.

Much of the information Airhart posts to the site is not published in currently used textbooks and related publications. Sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service on the recommendation of the National Urban and Community Forestry Advisory Council, the site has had a national impact on the education of students of all ages, including continuing education students.

Airhart, also a Proctor and Tree Worker Evaluator, has written numerous articles and presented professional seminars and workshops about arboricultural services and techniques. He is a member of the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council and has served on the Executive Committee as Secretary for five years.