Gitner Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology: Past Awardees

2017 Gitner Award Winner

Amber Navarre, of the Department of World Languages & Literatures

World Languages & Literatures Professor Amber Navarre, of the College of Arts & Sciences, is winner of the 2017 Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology. (Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography)

World Languages & Literatures Senior Lecturer Amber Navarre, of the College of Arts & Sciences, is winner of the 2017 Gerald and Deanne Gitner Family Award for Innovation in Teaching with Technology. (Photo by Cydney Scott for Boston University Photography)

Dr. Navarre’s innovation dates to 2013 when she joined the faculty of the Department of World Languages & Literatures and began an ambitious reinvisioning of BU’s Chinese language program. In teaching one of the world’s most demanding languages, her goal from the start has been to help students communicate meaningfully by maximizing their exposure to the language both inside and outside the classroom.

The Foreign Service Institute recommends 2,200-2,400 hours of instruction for a student to be functionally proficient in Chinese – far above the 420 hours a typical Chinese major at BU receives by graduation. Dr. Navarre has dramatically bolstered that instruction with an array of innovations, from self-produced instructional films and blogging, to flipped classrooms and student message boards, all designed to continually engage learners in real-life settings.

For first and second year students, she has developed two YouTube channels with videos featuring contextualized dialogues, grammar instructions, and cultural explanations, while higher level students are provided a platform to post their own self-produced films and video recorded speeches. The result is a hybrid approach that supplements traditional classroom time with emerging technology to produce a uniquely immersive experience.

Dr. Navarre’s innovation is impressive in its ability to maximize her students’ communication in Chinese, its applicability as a model for educators across multiple languages, and its successful cultivation of confident, engaged, proficient learners.

2016 Gerald Fine, of the Department of Mechanical Engineering
2015 Paul Blanchard, of the Department of Mathematics & Statistics
2014 Bennett Goldberg, Pankaj Mehta, Andrew Duffy and Manher Jariwala, of the Department of Physics