Sandra Vlasnik named 2009 UNO Alumni Outstanding Teaching Awards Recipient
Vlasnik earned her B.S. in computer science from UNO in 1988. She taught computer science at Bellevue University and was a software engineer for a number of years before joining UNO in 2005 as a full-time instructor. Vlasnik teaches a variety of courses for the College of IS&T with a primary focus in computer programming languages, programming concepts and database development and design. She is closely involved in the development of courses for distance education and has taught several distance education courses herself.
Vlasnik was both surprised and flattered by the award. She states that her philosophy in teaching is to be student-centered and to engage students in the learning process: "I always encourage students to be active in learning and I try to promote an enjoyable class environment," says Vlasnik, "It is very nice to be recognized; to know the students enjoyed the class and felt I was helpful towards their learning. Mainly my teaching philosophy is to be student-centered since I can remember what is like to be a student."
Vlasnik brings her experience from the real world into the classroom by using relevant applications for topics covered in class. She provides challenging assignments that directly involve the material presented in the lectures and textbook. She encourages student interaction in the classroom and helps students reach their full potential through the utilization of Internet tools and the introduction of in-class activities. Vlasnik delivers different formats of presentations in both the traditional classroom setting and in distance education courses to enhance the learning environment for her students.
"Even though there are numerous PowerPoint slides," one student claims, "she (Vlasnik) is able to entertain the class and at the same time, encourages many students to explore computer programming more in depth."
Another student highlights Vlasnik’s friendly and personable approach in teaching, "She (Vlasnik) is very accessible inside and outside of class. She responds to e-mails in timely manner while other instructors take several days to respond, and she always follows up with students if they are having complicated and difficult situations in class. The UNO AOTA program was established in 1997 by Alumni Association President Lee Denker. It is designed to honor distinguished faculty who have exhibited exceptional commitment during their careers at UNO. The $1,000 awards were presented by Denker at the UNO Faculty Honors Convocation Breakfast in the Milo Bail Student Center on Thursday, March 26.
The AOTA award recipients are elected by peer committees and represent the seven UNO colleges: Arts and Sciences, Business Administration, Communication, Fine Arts and Media, Education, Engineering, Information Science and Technology, and Public Affairs and Community Service. Each recipient is recognized as influential, and displays strong dedication to teaching undergraduates, masters and doctorate level students.