April 10, 2009

Library Affairs’ Dunn wins teaching support award

by Tim Crosby

John Paul Dunn
CARBONDALE -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale will honor a dedicated library employee as part of its annual Excellence Through Commitment awards.

John Paul “J.P.” Dunn, a specialist with Library Affairs, will receive the award for Administrative/Professional teaching support. Dunn will receive a cash award, certificate, a watch from the SIU Alumni Association and reserved parking space for one year.

Dunn, along with others honored by the University, will attend a dinner in their honor set for April 21 at the Student Center.

In his current position, Dunn is responsible for the campus Blackboard and WebCT servers and all related training issues. He presents workshops to faculty on the creation of Blackboard and WebCT courses. Dunn works with students on using the Blackboard and WebCT resources and supervises graduate and student assistants as they create resources for multimedia presentations.

Dunn’s work as administrator of the University’s online Blackboard system touches nearly every student, faculty member and instructor on campus. Howard Carter, manager of Instructional Support Services, said Dunn has made significant professional contributions in advancing the goals of SIUC.

“J.P. has served a leadership role by providing (faculty, instructors and students) with high-quality instructional services, access to materials and information in numerous online formats, and expert assistance in instructional development and technology,” Carter wrote in his nominating letter.

Carter credited Dunn with assisting faculty and instructors in developing interactive Web sites and creating and maintaining Blackboard-based courses. Dunn created more than 22,000 active Blackboard student accounts for a total of nearly 75,000 seats in courses across the campus. He also loaded class lists into Blackboard for approximately 1,500 courses, a 500 percent increase over the last four years, Carter said.

“This level of activity also directly impacted the amount of training he conducted for instructors and students using the system, often for the first time,” Carter said. “It also resulted in an increase in the number of students who required technical help with difficulties with their passwords and course access. Throughout, J.P. has maintained an atmosphere of service to users as his first priority.”

Susan Edgren, interim director of the Division of Continuing Education at SIUC, said the Office of Distance Education uses Blackboard to offer more than 50 Individualized Learning Program courses and more than 40 Online Semester-Based courses, serving almost 850 students. Dunn works closely with all instructors to ensure their course materials are accessible through Blackboard, she said.

“Mr. Dunn goes beyond the requirements of his job. He is available to faculty and students 24/7 to resolve technical problems,” Edgren said. “He assists students on weekends when they are having difficulties with Blackboard. He has established a listserv so he can immediately communicate to faculty and staff if there are problems.

“Mr. Dunn exemplifies what support staff at SIUC should be all about. My office could not do what we do, nearly as effectively, without the direction and support he provides on a continual, day-to-day basis,” Edgren said. “Based on numbers alone, I doubt you could find many, if any, individuals on this campus who positively impact as many faculty and students on a continual basis as does Mr. Dunn.”

Denise Zaczek, an instructor in the Department of Physiology, described how Dunn developed a training program for those teaching classes on how to use Blackboard.

“I found these sessions to be very well planned and delivered, excellent educational resources that enabled me to make the transition with relative ease,” she said. “Additionally, when unforeseen problems arise, Mr. Dunn is always a phone call or email away and rapidly replies to either type of correspondence with prompt and effective advice and assistance.”

Dunn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in electronics management in 1987 at SIUC. He earned a Master’s of Science in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in computer-based education in 1993, also at SIUC.