When Nita Copeland first met Amar Kanekar in 2012, the new professor was not convinced of the merits of teaching online.
“When Amar first came here, I asked him what he thought about online learning. He said, ‘Teachers needs to be in the classroom,’” said Copeland, senior instructor in the School of Counseling, Human Performance and Rehabilitation at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Copeland took Kanekar under her wing and taught him everything she knows about online education. Six years later, Kanekar, a graduate program coordinator of the Health Education and Promotion program, was honored as a recipient of the 2017-18 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Award during a March 29 reception in the Donaghey Student Center.
“Online learning was totally new, and Amar was always so positive. He saw that if you taught online correctly that you can have great results,” said Copeland, who has previously received a Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Award. “He has always jumped right in and would try anything.”
The Blackboard awards program recognizes faculty and course designers from schools, colleges, and universities around the world who develop engaging and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning. Kanekar won the award for his “Health Education Program Evaluation,” a senior-level online course that focuses on health program planning and evaluation.
“I am deeply humbled by this big honor from Blackboard,” Kanekar said. “I would like to extend my thanks to my coworkers and family. I also want to thank the STAR (Scholarly Technology and Resources office) team for helping me with all my training. There is a very special person here, Nita Copeland, who always motivated me and encouraged me to go for this award.”
Cori Schmidtbauer, an instructional designer in the STAR office who is friends with Kanekar, remarked that Kanekar has definitely earned the award through his dedication to teaching.
“Amar is very student oriented,” Schmidtbauer said. “He is very passionate about learning and ensuring students get a successful learning experience, especially online students.”
Kanekar has completed the Blackboard Learn Advanced training and served as a guest speaker for UA Little Rock’s Summer Academy for Online Teaching Excellence. He has also received a Quality Matters certificate for one of his online courses this year and received one of the first Open Education Resource mini grants from UA Little Rock in 2017.
In the upper right photo, Amar Kanekar (right) and Nita Copeland (left) celebrate Kanekar’s recent award at a reception in the Donaghey Student Center Leadership Lounge. Photo by Marisa Perry.