The Council for Online Learning Excellence (COLE), an initiative of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Online Education Task Force, recognized three faculty members and a university team for their outstanding work during yesterday’s State Regents meeting.

Dr. Stacy Southerland, professor of Spanish and faculty liaison for the Center for eLearning and Connected Environments at the University of Central Oklahoma, was honored with the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Teaching. The Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Innovation was presented to Randy Dominguez, director of online learning at Tulsa Community College. Gary Dotterer, director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Rogers State University, received the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Individual Leadership, and the University of Oklahoma’s information technology division was presented with the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Team Leadership.

“Online education is an integral part of Oklahoma higher education,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “We continue our important work as a system to provide Oklahoma students a coordinated, academically rigorous approach to online learning that reduces access barriers and encourages educational innovation.”

Southerland has been recognized by her colleagues at UCO as a “pillar of excellence.” She has received awards for innovative, creative teaching at multiple levels, including UCO’s Vanderford Initiative Award, given by UCO’s president for exceptional initiative in support of character, civility, community and leadership, as well as recognition at the D2L Users’ Global Conference. At UCO, she designed online Spanish courses that incorporate an understanding of learner needs, teaching effectiveness and high academic standards.

Dominguez and his team have been praised for their “Ongoing Professional Development Plan for Faculty Who Teach Online” project, which specifically targets improving online education and requires that full-time faculty attend a recognized and significant training activity with a demonstrated outcome of improving course design or content. This innovative, three-year program gives faculty members the flexibility to select one of eight options for professional development, all with the goal of improving online teaching at TCC.

A leader in online teaching and learning, Dotterer led a university-wide initiative to migrate to a new learning management system. He demonstrated careful leadership throughout the process, resulting in the university’s distance education committee, faculty senate and academic council unanimously voting to utilize a common learning management system. In times of declining enrollment, online enrollment has continued to grow under his leadership.

OU Information Technology is a nationally recognized, leading information technology organization in higher education. OU’s IT team has demonstrated excellence in user experience, community engagement and innovation on campus. The team recently undertook a campus-wide transition of OU’s online learning management system from Desire to Learn to Canvas. In order to prepare students for the transition, OU IT refreshed the content of the university’s Tech Bootcamp course and moved it into Canvas to showcase the new learning management system. By adding multimedia content and offering incentives for participation, the team was able to engage students online with the technology they would be using to complete their coursework.

The State Regents created the Online Education Task Force in 2012 to review the delivery of online education throughout the state system and to determine the extent to which the delivery of online education was accessible, efficient and effective. COLE, formed by the task force in 2016, is comprised of faculty, staff and administrators representing each tier of Oklahoma’s public and private colleges and universities, as well as other entities connected to online learning technologies. The 2018 Oklahoma Online Excellence Awards nominations were submitted by peers and judged by a committee of COLE members. Nominees were scored using a standard rubric based on the metrics of leadership, innovation, collaboration and results.