April 13, 2007

Prof. Streeter Wins Award For Innovative Teaching

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Prof. Deborah Streeter, Bruce F. Failing, Sr. Professor of Personal Enterprise and Small Business Management, received the prestigious Olympus Innovation Award last month recognizing her novel approach to entrepreneurship education and her contributions to Cornell.
Streeter “felt very humbled” receiving the award, because “it’s an important award, but I was extremely happy for the whole e-Clips team … getting national recognition really validates our work.”
What most impressed the judges was a database compiled by Streeter consisting of over 8,000 e-Clips, or digital video interviews, covering a wide range of entrepreneurs. Individuals from established, well respected businesses were interviewed, as well as those from less well known firms. These clips are edited by topic, and then used as a resource when teaching entrepreneurship and small business management. This is the world’s largest online collection dealing with the subject matter, and has been invaluable to individuals across the globe. Over 800 universities have accessed the database through to date, as well as individuals from over 70 countries.
Streeter first conceived of the idea ten years ago because she wanted to present her students with a virtual guest to provide a real life context for the course material.
“As a teacher,” Streeter said, “the really cool stuff happens when you blend the discipline of the classroom with the messiness of the real world … integrating the two made me interested in e-Clips.”
With help from CIT and the Mann library staff, both of which Streeter is quick to point out were critical to the process, she began to compile clips and develop a process of sharing them with students on a searchable database.
According to Streeter, students are interested in the stories behind successful entrepreneurs. This student interest has led to the evolution of the site and the launch of a ‘Career Corner,’ in which students can explore a variety of careers and access resources providing information on everything from business dinner etiquette to tips on creating a work-life balance.
However, Streeter hopes to continue to improve and develop the database as it strives to meet more student needs.
“This project,” Streeter said, “has tremendous possibilities going forward.”
According to the Olympus website, the Olympus Award is intended to recognize faculty who emphasize inventive teaching and hands-on opportunities and foster inventiveness in their students. The award also includes a $10,000 prize. The criteria used for evaluating potential winners include problem solving, quality of outcomes, institutional change, individual influence, motivation to action and societal impact. Individuals from both academia and the business world serve on the selection committee.
At the awards ceremony, George Steares, vice president emeritus of Olympus America, said he was “most impressed with [the award winners’] innovative teaching methods and the profound impact they have had on so many students to become successful inventors and entrepreneurs.”
Streeter’s current research interests include the role of small business and the entrepreneurial spirit in economic development, placing emphasis on the effectiveness of business training and planning for start-up companies. She is a part of [email protected], a university wide program that seeks to support teaching, research and outreach in entrepreneurship and personal enterprise.
Beyond her responsibilities at Cornell, Streeter is also involved in considerable outreach activities to small business. As part of the Entrepreneurial Education and Outreach Program, she participates in a variety of initiatives endeavoring to assist regional entrepreneurs through informed choices and training.