Jody Early wins teaching innovation award

Jody EarlyJody Early, an associate professor in the University of Washington Bothell School of Nursing & Health Sciences, is the recipient of the UW 2017 Distinguished Teaching Award for Innovation with Technology.

The award was created in 2013 by the UW Office of the Provost to recognize a faculty member from Seattle, Tacoma or Bothell campuses who improves student learning by leveraging technology. Early will be honored at a June 8 ceremony at Meany Hall on the Seattle campus along with other Distinguished Teaching Award winners, all celebrated for their knowledge, innovation and ability to inspire students and collaborate with other scholars.

"I have never been a 'techie' person," Early says. "I embrace technology because it can enhance the way we teach and learn, improve health and well-being, and be used to dismantle systems of oppression."

“Jody’s innovation isn’t for the sake of just using popular technologies,” said Grace Lasker, senior lecturer in the School of Nursing & Health Studies. It is undertaken to help students experience transformative growth through reflection, Lasker said.

Early has used technology to connect UW Bothell students with communities outside of the United States to examine population health.

Students in her winter 2017 Women’s Global Health and Human Rights class, for example, collaborated with public health students at Al Quds University on the project “From the West Coast to the West Bank: Using Photovoice to Explore Social Ecological Factors Impacting Women’s Health in the U.S. and Palestine.” At the end of the quarter, the students presented their photo and video stories at the Northwest Film Forum’s International Day for Women and Trans People event in Seattle.

Last summer, Early co-led a study abroad trip to Sardinia, Italy, where students explored migration, health and human rights. Before arriving in Sardinia, the students used digital storytelling to connect with their collaborators across the globe. Their use of technology helped to seed more authentic relationships and dialogue.

“Reflecting on my experiences as a first generation college student, my experiences abroad, and our work with migrant populations, I was faced with understanding the traumas my family faced immigrating into the U.S. and how that affects me in real time,” wrote student Isabela Ahumada. “Jody’s innovative teaching and use of digital storytelling was the perfect guide through navigating these types of wounds. It was Jody’s methods and continuous support that made it possible for me to tell my story.”

Early’s methods are an outstanding model for other faculty, said Claire Fraczek, director of integrated learning at UW Bothell.

"Jody Early’s teaching represents the rare nexus of innovation, integration and culture change in service to student learning,” she said.