Sean Trainor
Management Communication Center Lecturer Sean Trainor.

Management communication faculty member wins teaching and technology innovation award

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Sean Trainor, Lecturer in the Management Communication Center, is the recipient of the 2021 Innovation in Teaching and Technology Award from the Association for Business Communication. Trainor is the first faculty member from the University of Florida Warrington College of Business to receive the award.

The Innovation in Teaching and Technology Award recognizes innovative uses of technology to enhance learning and engagement in business communication classrooms.

“Winning this award is a huge personal honor. Ever since I started teaching, I’ve been incredibly interested in how I can use technology to enhance students’ learning experience,” Trainor said. “To me, teaching with technology is one of the best aspects of being an educator in the twenty-first century. The technologies now at our disposal – from basic productivity tools like G-Suite and course management systems to more advanced ed-tech tools – allow us to approach teaching and learning in ways that previous generations of educators could only imagine.

“I’m incredibly excited to be part of a cohort of educators who get to rethink what learning looks like in the internet age. To be recognized for my own small role in that process is immensely validating.”

Sticker featuring a black and white cat sitting in a goblet-style cup with Individual Winner written on top of the cup all on a blue background with text below reading GEB5212 Class Cup

Individual student winners of Sean Trainor’s ‘Class Cup’ receive this sticker designed by Master of Science in Management student Micah Lomel.

Trainor added, “Just as importantly, this award feels like a win for Warrington as a whole. One of the best things about being a Warrington faculty member is the outstanding institutional support we receive and the amazing tech we have access to in our classrooms. I couldn’t have competed for this award without the wonderful resources and support the college provides.”

Trainor has three main purposes when incorporating technology into his teaching. First, it enables him to ‘gamify’ class activities, meaning he’s able to turn class sessions into a series of learning games through online Kahoot quizzes and G-Suite for collaborative, competitive activities.

Trainor’s favorite activity is the ‘Class Cup,’ a low-stakes competition that gives students a chance to apply course concepts in a series of tech-intensive learning games.

Throughout the semester, students accrue Class Cup points through activities like taking interactive quizzes about new course concepts and working in teams to produce sample communications, like emails, presentation slides and flyers. The Class Cup ends with an ‘escape room’ activity, that Trainor’s Management Communication Center colleague Rachel Slivon created.

“In this activity, students work in shared Google documents to navigate four group challenges, each of which helps them review basic course concepts,” Trainor said. “For each challenge that the groups successfully complete, all group members receive three Class Cup points; and the team that completes all four challenges fastest ‘escapes’ from the ‘Escape Room’ and gets a three-point bonus.”

Sticker featuring a black and white cat peeking out of the top of a goblet-style cup with the worlds 'Group Winner' written on top all on an orange background with text below that reads "GEB5212 Class Cup"

Trainor’s cat Lucy is featured on the ‘Class Cup’ stickers. This particular sticker is given to the student team with the most points at the end of the semester in Trainor’s Professional Writing class.

At the end of the Escape Room activity, the points are tallied, and winners receive the Class Cup Prize: a custom-designed sticker by former Master of Science in Management student Micah Lomel featuring Trainor’s cat, Lucy.

Using technology in his teaching also allows Trainor to bring familiar aspects of the outside world into the classroom.

“I’ve designed my video lectures to look and feel as much like real-world YouTube videos as possible (In fact, I’ve even created my own YouTube channel),” he said. “I also use a lot of the same tools (including G-Suite tools) that students already use in their everyday work lives.”

Trainor’s third main purpose of using technology in his classroom is to either minimize inefficiencies in teaching, drive student engagement, or both.

“Using Kahoot quizzes for concept review, for instance, allows me to make that portion of the class interactive as well as tailor my in-class comments to areas where students are struggling,” Trainor explained. “Similarly, using G-Suite for group activities allows me to provide students with real-time feedback on their work which, in turn, helps prevent them from pursuing ineffective approaches.”

Trainor’s approach is as highly regarded by his students it is by the selection committee for the Association for Business Communication’s Teaching and Technology Award.

“I cannot stress how helpful I found this course, but more importantly, my professor,” wrote one student on an anonymous evaluation of Trainor’s course. “Sean’s enthusiasm and ability to foster education and personably convey constructive criticism did not go unnoticed. Never have I been so motivated to go to office hours or learn material.”

The Association for Business Communication is an international, interdisciplinary organization committed to advancing business communication research, education and practice.

Trainor came to Warrington in 2016 as an adjunct professor before becoming a lecturer in the Management Communication Center in 2018. Prior to his time in the Management Communication Center, Trainor taught professional writing in the University of Florida University Writing Program and the Department of History as well as at Santa Fe College and Penn State University.

He has received awards for teaching excellence from the University of Florida College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Penn State College of Liberal Arts and Penn State Department of History.

He received his Ph.D. in history and women’s studies and MA in history from Pennsylvania State University and his BA in history and religion from The George Washington University.