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April 20, 2017 - State Regents' Council for Online Learning Excellence Honors Outstanding Work of Faculty, Staff, Administrators RSS feed

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

Dr. Maria Christian, assistant professor of higher education leadership at Northeastern State University, was honored with the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Individual Faculty Member/Staff Member, and the Learning Design Team at the Center for eLearning and Connected Environments at the University of Central Oklahoma received the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for an Institution Team or Program.

“Oklahoma higher education remains at the forefront of the rapid expansion of online education,” said Chancellor Glen D. Johnson. “The State Regents recognize the increasingly important role of online learning and the value of a coordinated, systemwide approach to eliminate barriers and encourage educational innovation while maintaining academic rigor across multiple learning platforms.”

Christian has been recognized by her colleagues at NSU for her efforts to enhance and strengthen the university’s Master of Science in Higher Education Leadership program, as well as for her involvement with university-wide online course offerings. Her efforts to advance online education include serving as co-author of a proposal to develop NSU’s program into a fully online program and sharing her online teaching experience through collaboration in various initiatives with the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning. She was selected as a Faculty Fellow for NSU’s Center for Teaching and Learning, where she oversees the university’s advanced online teaching practices.

The Learning Design Team at UCO is led by assistant director Tracy Fairless, who oversees the team’s initiatives to ensure excellence in the design and delivery of online courses at UCO. Other team members include instructional designers Katie Carnes, Liz Crowell, Brett King and Kelly Ross; online course facilitation certification specialists Sarah Harrell and Kyle Motsinger; and accessibility specialist Stephanie Rogers. UCO’s video team is comprised of members Kelsi Thompson, Spike Alkire and Joaquin Lopez.

In support of UCO’s growth of fully online course offerings, the Learning Design Team developed effective, sustainable practices for maintaining high-quality, engaging online design, teaching and learning experiences, and their Online Course Quality Principles Rubric communicates rigorous standards for online courses from inception to completion. The team’s collaborative endeavors include efforts to share Learning Environment Modeling and effective practices for supporting excellence in online education. They routinely partner with other UCO divisions to host or present at UCO faculty development workshops and conferences. The Learning Design Team’s effectiveness is reflected in the high approval ratings reported through surveys and testimonials of stakeholders, as well as continued growth and high learner completion rates in online learning.

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.

For the inaugural 2017 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.