Elevating online learning

Math professor wins Edfinity Award


Ben Bolstrum, Staff Writer

Associate Professor of Mathematics, Brad Stetson, recently won the Edfinity Award for “technology-enabled innovation in improving student access to quality learning resources.”
This award recognizes an educator who has made substantial efforts to further the cause of equitable access to high-quality homework and/or course materials in Mathematics.
There’s just one catch: Stetson doesn’t just teach in a classroom.
Stetson uses Distance Learning to teach online classes. Currently he teaches six classes online (two sections of Math 047 and four sections of Math122) and calls it a passion due to the outreach it provides.
Students who previously weren’t able to attend classes can now get that privilege. He gives examples such as military students stationed abroad, students whose job requires them to travel, have parents who work full time, as well as physically or emotionally impaired students. These are the students that inspire Stetson to improve Distance Learning.
“My overarching goal is to provide high-quality education to as many people as possible, in particular people that may not think they are able to get such an education. This goal impacts the projects I take part in across campus in a few different ways,” Stetson explained.
“One aspect of making education more accessible is through finances. I try to look at the decisions we make about course materials on a level beyond that of an individual student,” Stetson stated. “When I think about requiring a $150 textbook, I think about the 30 sections of the class with 31 students in each […] if I can put in a little extra work on my end to reduce those course material costs and still provide an amazing educational experience, then that is time well-spent.”
Stetson planned to ensure no money is spent on textbooks; a goal that he obtained for this semester. He wants to make this goal obtainable on an institutional level. Stetson finds math appealing because it can be applied to any aspect of life.
“No matter what someone is doing, it involves math,” he said. The building blocks to success, or “the language of logic” as Stetson says, is math.
Not only does Stetson care about his lesson plans, but he also cares about his students, innovating based on their needs. He gets some ideas from conferences, but its everyday life where he uses technology to his advantage, doing so with his Boy Scout troop and smart house. This is where he picks up his technological savvy.
“I love when I can change someone’s mind about math. I enjoy teaching classes that people think they can’t complete, and teaching them otherwise.” Stetson shared. “I love it when I have a 4.0 student that tells me at the end of the course that they have never been good at math, but have decided to take more math classes because they saw that they actually can do it. As an educator, I try to give people the tools to be successful.”
Stetson was honored to receive the award. Mathematics professor and colleague Mike McCoy suggested that Stetson apply, and Stetson put in the work to give his students a high-quality education that should be recognized and celebrated. He continues to be a positive influence on his students.
This award is supported by the National Science Foundation in conjunction with MichMATYC, which is the state affiliate of the American Mathematical Association of Two-Year Colleges (AMATYC).
If you are looking to register for professor Stetson’s online classes, please visit webadvisor.schoolcraft.edu.