Indiana University Bloomington

Gift from longtime IU School of Education faculty member to boost teaching database, scholarships

Pioneering instructional systems technology professor leaves $800,000 to the school

  • March 12, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A gift of more than three-quarters of a million dollars will build an online database of best practices for teaching with technology and fund scholarships for the Indiana University School of Education's Department of Instructional Systems Technology.

Mendel Sherman, a faculty member from 1955 to 1975, designated that $800,000 from his estate go to the School of Education. Sherman, who was noted for helping establish and disseminate best teaching methods for audiovisual tools in classrooms, passed away in October 2012.

Sherman's gift will build upon the work he began at IU nearly 60 years ago. Most of the gift will fund the Mendel Sherman Wise Practice Case Database, an online site containing multimedia cases demonstrating best K-12 classroom practices for teaching with technology. The resource will allow teachers to access online models of innovative teaching practices and resources to assist in applying those practices in their classrooms.  

The rest of the gift will create the Mendel Sherman Instructional Technology Scholarship Fund. These scholarships will further the IU School of Education's priority to recruit and prepare outstanding graduate students who will innovate and lead in the field of educational technology. The fund will be available to students studying instructional systems technology starting in the fall of 2015

"Professor Sherman's gift speaks volumes about the loyalty of our faculty and the passion they feel for the work they do," said Gerardo Gonzalez, dean of the School of Education. "He knew in a very personal way that an investment in the school would touch generations of students and improve the teaching profession in ways we can’t even imagine today.

"He was a pioneer in the instructional innovations that led U.S. News and World Report to rank our online programs number 2 in the country this year. Our faculty and donors truly provide the margin of quality needed to be among the top ranked programs in the country. What a wonderful legacy for Professor Sherman to leave." 

"This generous gift from Dr. Sherman will provide the opportunity to expand our work in capturing and disseminating exceptional teaching practices," said Tom Brush, Department of Instructional Systems Technology chair and the Barbara B. Jacobs Chair in Education and Technology. "It will also assist the IST department in continuing to prepare future leaders in our field for years to come.”

Sherman has a legacy as a pioneer in the use of educational technology. Once a teacher in a one-room Ohio schoolhouse, Sherman headed the Cincinnati public schools' audiovisual center after returning from Army service during World War II.

His association with IU began as an instructor for the IU Audio-Visual Center’s summer conference in 1953. His projects over the next several years earned him international recognition, including two years developing educational media in Thailand and continued demonstrations across the country on integrating media into classroom teaching.

Sherman became the president of the national professional organization the Department of Audio-Visual Instruction (which became the Association for Educational Communications and Technology) in 1963. Along with fellow faculty member Gene Faris, he conducted a national project to identify exemplary practices and compile and publish national standards for audiovisuals in the classroom in 1966. He published a how-to guide to video production for educators in 1991.

Cincinnati attorney Tom Sherman, Mendel's nephew, said his uncle's lifelong drive for best practice with educational technology continued until the end.

"A week before my uncle died at age 102, he was still lecturing me on the need for colleges to use technology to improve grade school education," Tom Sherman said.

To create the online database, the Department of Instructional Systems Technology will identify exemplary teachers willing to share their teaching practices and capture those practices on video. Teachers from around the world will have access to these examples online.

"We have been working for over a decade to develop a robust database of exemplary teaching practices that can be used by teachers and teacher educators around the world," Brush said. "This gift will allow us to continue and expand this work for another decade. The IST department is extremely grateful for this gift."

Mendel Sherman

Mendel Sherman | Photo by Indiana University

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Chuck Carney

  • IU School of Education
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  • ccarney@indiana.edu
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