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UI Professor Möller Wins USDA National Teaching Award

Sunday, November 2 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – Nov. 3, 2014 – University of Idaho professor and environmental chemist Greg Möller received one of the nation’s most exclusive and prestigious teaching awards Sunday, Nov. 2.

He became the first professor at the University of Idaho and neighboring Washington State University since 1996 to win a National USDA Excellence in Teaching Award given by the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities, one of two awarded this year.

Möller is on the faculty of the School of Food Science operated jointly by the University of Idaho and Washington State University.

The APLU represents America’s public research universities founded under the Morrill Act of 1862 and 235 institutions overall. Möller is the University of Idaho’s first recipient of the national award.

Three other UI College of Agricultural and Life Sciences faculty members, Kathe Gabel, Amin Ahmadzadeh and Stephen Devadoss have been honored with regional teaching awards in previous years.

A 24-year member of the UI college’s faculty, Möller teaches classes including Principles of Sustainability, Principles of Environmental Toxicology and Food Toxicology. All are available for viewing online for free, although students must register and complete assignments to receive university credit.

“I recognized early that in digital education, I will rarely, if ever, be in the same time zone as my students,” Möller said. He is among those pioneering doculectures, documentary-style videos that use media techniques to engage students and deliver information.

In an era where online videos are viewed billions of times each day, he said, the quality of online education is especially challenging when teacher and students are on different schedules. What works in a classroom may not effectively translate to the screen.

“This new approach couples the information intensity of a university lecture with the audiovisual warmth and dynamics of a documentary film,” Möller said of doculectures. “Principles of Sustainability leverages our understanding of the cognitive neuroscience of learning and memory using dynamic imagery, sounds and virtual spatial effects. Over 100 filmmakers and scholars across the globe, and numerous students, contributed to this course.”

When a student writes, “I watched the doculecture, and I cried,” about “A Planet in Peril” from his Principles of Sustainability online open course, Möller said he knows he has connected with his global classroom and opened minds for learning.

The course is his most advanced online education course. His documentary approach to lectures has won Telly awards twice and the 2011 El Capitan Award from the Yosemite International Film Festival. He has partnered with Detroit Public TV and PBS to form the Corps of Discovery, as a case study in media singularity to promote sustainability.

As a researcher, inventor and teacher, Möller often focuses on when things go wrong. He has studied issues ranging from selenium toxicity in the environment to incidents when pine nuts left diners with bad tastes in their mouths, and worse.

Möller mostly focuses to finding ways to make systems work better. His six licensed patents are the basis for innovative water treatment technologies that are improving water quality for more than 2 million people worldwide.

The Association of University Technology Managers cited his team's water treatment technology as one of “25 Innovations that Changed the World,” alongside the Google search engine and others.

About the University of Idaho
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