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Release: Sept. 26, 2001

UI English lecturer Jeff Porter wins President's technology innovation award

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Jeff Porter, a lecturer and director of Multimedia Studies in the English department at the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, has won the 2001 President's Award for Technology Innovation, which recognizes the most creative use of technology in teaching in the past year.

Porter was recognized for his course, "Multimedia Writing: Radio Essays," which teaches students to write nonfiction for Web broadcast. Using audio production tools, students produce their own voiceovers, record interviews, capture nonverbal sounds and music and integrate these various audio-based media with spoken texts. Porter said he developed the course after considering the question, "What does it mean to write with sound?"

In Radio Essays students learn to explore the conceptual resonance between sounds and words, discovering how sounds change the way we experience words. "An aural text is quite different from its print-based counterpart," Porter said, "and that's because sound permits us to experience in a text what we might not otherwise see or hear."

Students in Radio Essays also find the element of performance appealing to their latent expressiveness, Porter added. "Nothing is more engaging than the sound of the human voice put to music or in the heat of a story. Behind every radio essay lurks a song and a tale."

UI President Mary Sue Coleman praised Porter for his "true innovation in providing students with an expanded vision of what it means to compose an essay."

Porter received the award, which carries a $3,000 cash prize, at the annual UI Convocation Sept. 25. More information about his course, including an archive of previous student projects, is online at

Coleman also awarded special recognition and a $1,000 prize to two other finalists for the award. "Multimedia Computer Applications to Teach and Assess Skills in Clinical Medicine," developed by Michael W. Peterson, an associate professor of family medicine, and Scott Elliot, an instructional design consultant in the College of Medicine, is a computer-based instructional tool that uses virtual patients to expand training in clinical reasoning and patient management, and incorporates multimedia into clinical problem-solving exercises. "The Bones of the Skull: A 3-D Learning Tool," was created by Jerald Moon, an associate professor of speech pathology and audiology, James M. Duncan, Information Commons and electronic services coordinator with the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences, and Marilyn Dispensa, an instructional design consultant with ITS-Academic Technologies. This software uses 3-D technology that enables students to view and rotate bones in a way that allows them to understand anatomy and skeletal articulations that are usually difficult to grasp without examining a real skull.