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IU Northwest faculty member receives high IU award

Diane M. Larson to be recognized at IU Distinguished Teaching Awards April 8

Thursday Mar 31, 2016

By Heather Crane, IU Communications

Students are often concerned that what they’re learning in the classroom may not be applicable in the real world. For Diane Larson’s students, there’s never a doubt.

Larson, senior lecturer in Computer Information Systems at Indiana University Northwest, is dedicated to preparing students with the skills they need to confidently pursue a variety of careers— which is why there’s often a waiting list to get into her classes.

Larson will travel to IU Bloomington on Friday, April 8 to accept The President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, one of the University’s highest honors. Larson will join other distinguished IU educators who display excellence in teaching, research and service to the University at the 2016 Celebration of Distinguished Teaching dinner. The event is part of IU Founder’s Day, an annual spring celebration that marks the University’s founding in 1820.

“In lectures, I give real-world examples to enhance the concepts being discussed,” says Larson. “Information technology, such as computers, software applications, multimedia, and telecommunications, are integrated within all disciplines. No matter what discipline a student is in, computers are utilized in some fashion.”

Before joining the IU community as a full-time lecturer, Larson ran her own computer training business and balanced adjunct teaching positions on the side. Though she was a successful entrepreneur, she always had a passion for teaching.

“Diane is the definition of an outstanding educator,” says Roy Foreman, professor in the Department of Information Systems at Purdue University Calumet. “She truly works hard and puts forth her best effort in all her classes.”

Larson has developed a technology-based curriculum that guides students through Microsoft Office programs including Word, Excel, Access, and PowerPoint. These lessons help students create presentations and reports for other classes, and also provide students with professional skills for success after graduation.

“I really enjoyed learning each computer section because I knew it was not a waste of time,” wrote a student in Larson’s introductory computer information systems course. “I will be using all of this information in the future.”

As a professor of computer information systems in the digital age, Larson understands the distractions that come with students using technology in class. However, she overcomes these obstacles by engaging her students in hands-on demonstrations and activities.

“I was struck by the fact that all of her students were paying attention,” says Charles Gallmeier, Chancellor’s Professor of Sociology at IU Northwest. “I have observed other computer courses and often witness some students working on their emails or searching the web. I did not see one student doing this in Diane’s class. They were all engaged and focused on the lesson.”

Larson has received numerous teaching awards, including the IU Northwest Founder’s Day Award (2013), the IU Northwest Distinguished Service Award (2013), and the IU Board of Trustees Award (2006, 2009, 2011, 2013). She was also recognized as a Faculty Colloquium on Excellence in Teaching (FACET) inductee in 2011.

Her students and colleagues agree that Larson’s exceptional dedication to teaching has made a lasting impact. DePauw University professor Gloria Townsend says, “I can think of no more deserving winner of the President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching than Diane Larson—a woman who cares about her students enough to make a difference in their lives inside and outside of the classroom.”

Larson was appointed to the IU Northwest faculty in 2002. She earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Purdue University Calumet in 1977, 1978, 1986, and 1989.

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