The Council for Online Learning Excellence (COLE), an initiative of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education’s Online Education Task Force, recognized a faculty member, an administrator and two university teams for their outstanding work during Friday’s State Regents meeting.

Kalianne Neumann, assistant professor of educational technology at Oklahoma State University, was honored with the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Teaching. The Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Innovation was presented to the K20 Center for Education and Community Renewal at the University of Oklahoma. Marla Lobley, public services librarian at East Central University, was presented with the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Individual Leadership. The Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Team Leadership was presented to the First Year Mathematics Program at OU.

“Online education is a more essential component of higher education than ever before,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “Oklahoma students have the opportunity to participate in innovative, academically rigorous online learning at our state system colleges and universities, which reduces barriers to higher education and affords students more flexibility in completing their college degrees.”

With over nine years of online teaching experience, Neumann teaches courses in the Educational Technology Program in the School of Educational Foundation, Leadership and Aviation at OSU. Her students consistently comment not only on the innovation and depth of learning in her 14 courses, but also on the organization and ease of navigation. They also recognize her humanization of online courses, which creates a community and fosters warmth in online spaces for her students. Neumann’s reflection on her own online teaching practices and willingness to grow professionally as a learner lead her to continually develop and perfect her online teaching repertoire.

With 25 years of foundational direct-service work behind them, OU’s K20 Center has recently developed a repository of virtual instructional tools, online engagements and professional development sessions to address educational needs in the state. Their efforts to deliver these tools in face-to-face collaborative settings — and most recently through virtual platforms — have enabled them to successfully serve their school partners and stakeholders despite the challenges that arrived with the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

Through her leadership not only within the collaborative work group at her own institution, but also as Open Educational Resources sub-committee co-chair for the COLE, Lobley has led both her campus and the other higher education institutions throughout Oklahoma to excel in online education and promote the benefits of open education. This was perhaps evidenced most profoundly by her leadership of a joint grant proposal in partnership with ECU, Redlands Community College, and OSU, which resulted in the awarding of more than $428,000 of grant funding by the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support the research of open education and lifelong learning competencies for adult learners.

The First Year Mathematics Program at OU undertook extraordinary efforts to successfully transition math courses online during the spring 2020 semester. Led by program director, Dr. Deborah Moore-Russo, the team encountered multiple challenges at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The team rose to the challenge of developing custom proctoring solutions without placing greater burden upon their students. The program’s instructors, after a summer of intense planning, adopted new proctoring techniques which could be adopted by other departments at their institution and others across Oklahoma.

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 2021 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.