Wednesday we gathered for the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education to honor a group of individuals who demonstrate excellence in online learning across Oklahoma. The 2018 Online Education Excellence Awardees are the pillars of leadership, innovation, teaching, and teamwork in our state. Below is a summary of each awardee.
The recipient of the Online Excellence Award for Teaching is Dr. Stacy Southerland, Professor of Spanish and CeCE Faculty Liaison, University of Central Oklahoma (UCO).
In her nomination materials, Dr. Southerland’s colleagues describe her online teaching and learning environment design practices as a “pillar of excellence.” Dr. Southerland 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 spotlight recognition at the D2L Users’ Global Conference. She has worked tirelessly and effectively to design exceptional online Spanish courses. This is evidenced in communication from her students, who routinely discuss her empathy for and understanding of learner needs, teaching effectiveness, and high academic standards.
The recipient of the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Innovation is Mr. Randy Dominguez, Director of Online Learning at Tulsa Community College (TCC).
In the nomination materials, Mr. Dominguez and his team were praised for their “Ongoing Professional Development Plan for Faculty Who Teach Online” project. This project 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 8 options for professional development, all with the goal of improving online teaching at TCC.
The recipient of the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Individual Leadership is Dr. Gary Dotterer, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Rogers State University (RSU).
Dr. Dotterer was described by his nominator as a “tireless advocate for student and faculty needs in online education.” As a leader in online teaching and learning, Dr. Dotterer led a major, university-wide initiative to migrate to a new learning management system. Dr. Dotterer demonstrated careful leadership in this process, resulting in the university’s distance education committee, faculty senate, and academic council unanimously voting to migrate to the same learning management system. Dr. Dotterer’s leadership has yielded tangible results: even when on-ground enrollment has declined, online enrollment has continued to grow under his leadership.
The recipient of the Oklahoma Online Excellence Award for Team Leadership is the team at the University of Oklahoma (OU) Information Technology division.
OU Information Technology (OU IT) is a nationally recognized, leading information technology organization in higher education. OU IT has demonstrated repeated excellence in user experience, community engagement, and innovation on the University of Oklahoma’s campus. OU IT demonstrates particular excellence in their role in student engagement, and they recognize that the process of coming to college can be overwhelming. There are new people to meet, a new place to live, classes to locate, jobs to find, and a multitude of deadlines – in addition to coursework that is many times more challenging than anything students have previously experienced. To make this time less stressful, OU IT ensures students know how to quickly and easily access the IT resources they need. Additionally, the team recently undertook a campus-wide transition of OU’s online learning management system (LMS), in which they decommissioned D2L (Desire to Learn) and adopted Canvas. In order to better prepare students for this transition, OU IT refreshed all the content of the university’s Tech Bootcamp course and moved it into Canvas to showcase the new LMS. By adding multimedia content and offering incentives for participation, OU IT was able to better engage students online with the technology they will use to complete their coursework.