Bowman honored with Sakai Innovation Award

Posted by Jayme Blaschke
University News Service
May 28, 2010

Scott Bowman, an assistant professor in the department of criminal justice at Texas State University-San Marcos, has been awarded the Teaching with Sakai Innovation Award for 2010.

Bowman was honored for rethinking his juvenile justice course and bringing in an element of real-world practice. After doing so, he found students engaged more deeply with course content. Bowman will attend the Sakai conference in Denver, Colo., in June to receive the award.

The Teaching With Sakai Innovation Award honors faculty members for innovative teaching practices and is sponsored by IBM, rSmart and John Wiley & Sons. Winners were selected from submissions from five countries. Submissions are evaluated based on the excellence of pedagogy and innovative use of the Sakai Collaborative Learning Environment.

The course primarily attracts sophomores and juniors in criminal justice. It is a face-to-face lecture-based course which covers the criminal justice aspects of the juvenile justice system. Bowman invites guest speakers who are practitioners in the field to talk about the specifics of certain practices such as policing or probation.

The impetus for change came from a two-week long technology integration workshop that Bowman attended last summer in instructional technologies support. Bowman said that during the workshop, he was able to clarify what he wanted students to get from the course.

"For me, it was really looking and saying, 'I want my students to truly understand what kids go through,'" he said. "What kids go through in their communities, in difficult communities, in gang-riddled communities, poor and marginalized juveniles, rural and urban and suburban juveniles, and understand those different experiences and subsequently to understand how that background really affects the manner in which they go through the juvenile justice system and some of the difficulties that they would face along the way."

In the workshop, Bowman discovered the tool he could use to deliver a real-world experience to his students. It was the wiki tool in TRACS. Each student was given a city in the United States to research in terms of juvenile justice practices. Students used the wiki to enter their findings which included text, pictures, links and tables of information.

"They were able to look at specific cities and to kind of get a clearer understanding, and more importantly through the wiki to document it not only for their own work, but for their peers to be able to look and understand and compare maybe their rural town to a suburban city, or to compare their suburban city to cities like Detroit or some of the, or Watts, to look at some of the more traditional urban cities and to compare and contrast issues of treatment, issues of policing, issues of institutionalization," Bowman said.

TRACS is the Texas State brand of Sakai, which is open-source software. To view the winning applications, please visit