Oklahoma Online Excellence Award

The purpose of the Online Learning Excellence Award is to recognize individuals and groups that demonstrate exemplary leadership, innovation, collaboration, and results that advance online and blended learning in the State of Oklahoma.

Awardees are selected based on the criteria listed below. Evidence should be provided that supports how the nominee demonstrates each of the criteria.

A diverse panel of reviewers will evaluate the submissions and select awardees to be recognized during the Oklahoma Learning Innovations Summit in April 2020.

Submit A Nomination

2021 Award Nominations Open: November 15, 2020

2021 Award Nominations Due: January 31, 2021

The 2020 award nomination cycle is now closed. We look forward to receiving your nomination next year! 

For questions related to the nomination process, please email Stacy Southerland at ssoutherland@uco.edu.

Award Criteria


  • Innovation – The individual or team has been recognized for innovative, engaging, unique, and creative initiatives that advance online teaching and learning, disrupt normal processes, and meet a proven need. This innovation could take the form of a concept, project, tool, solution, program, pedagogy, or method.
  • Collaboration – The individual or team collaborates with other online education practitioners to provide leadership, share resources, and model innovative, creative practices in and approaches to online teaching and learning.
  • Impact, Results and Sustainability – The individual or team presents evidence of effectiveness and success, continuing assessment of effectiveness, and significant and sustainable impact.


  • Pedagogy The individual demonstrates excellence in online teaching and learning environment design practices.
  • Innovation – The individual Integrates unique, innovative, creative, engaging, and effective instructional learning environment design practices.
  • Collaboration – The individual collaborates with other online educators to provide leadership, share resources, model effective online teaching practices, and mentor.
  • Results and Sustainability – The individual Presents evidence of measures for assessing excellence, effectiveness, and sustainability of online teaching practices.



  • Leadership The individual demonstrates a commitment to leadership in advancing the quality and excellence in online education within their institution and the State of Oklahoma.
  • Innovation The individual demonstrates a proven record of accomplishment in innovation and advancing progressive approaches to supporting student success in online and blended learning environments.
  • Collaboration The individual engages in collaborative opportunities to advance the quality and success of online education in the State of Oklahoma.
  • Results The individual consistently produces results that demonstrate exemplary success with initiatives.


Team, Program, or Institution

  • Leadership – The institution/team/program demonstrates transformative leadership in advancing the quality and excellence in online education within their institution and the State of Oklahoma.
  • Innovation – The institution/team/program demonstrates a proven track record of innovation and advancing progressive approaches to supporting student success in online and blended learning environments.
  • Collaboration – The institution/team/program engages in collaborative opportunities to advance the quality and success of online education in the State of Oklahoma.
  • Results – The institution/team/program consistently produces results that demonstrate exemplary success with initiatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a minimum or maximum page, word, or character count limit for nominations?

No. Nominations should include a narrative that addresses criteria for the award category in question. Rubrics are included with award descriptions elsewhere in this awards website. Nominations should also present evidence of what the narrative states. COLE and/or the OSRHE may determine that nominations without a narrative or without evidence do not qualify for the award.

What nomination materials do I submit and is a specific format required for them?

Nominations should include, at a minimum, a narrative and supporting evidence. A photo of the nominee and a 500 word maximum biography is also required for award announcements.

No specific format for the narrative and evidence is required. The nominator has the creative freedom to determine how best to frame the narrative and present supporting evidence.

However, it is recommended that programs and formats for the narrative be those that are widely available and used to ensure the files can be opened by each selection committee member.

For example, Word documents and Adobe .pdf files are good options for written materials. Video files should also be formatted so as to be easily opened and viewed with ease.

Is there a limit on the number of evidence files that may be included with a nomination?

No. The file name for each evidence file should clearly represent which nomination the evidence accompanies and the criteria it addresses.

Note that individual files may not exceed 30MB. Files that exceed that limit, such as video files, may be uploaded to YouTube, Vimeo, or a similar option and linked through the narrative or other evidence information files.

May I submit screen shots of a website, module, et cetera, with nomination materials?

Yes. The file name for each evidence file should clearly represent which nomination the evidence accompanies and the criteria it addresses. However, if you have multiple screenshots or images, consider presenting them in a single document to facilitate ease of access and review for the selection committee.

May I mail additional material or copies of my submission(s) to the selection committee for consideration?

No. All nominations and supporting materials must be submitted online via the awards website.

How should nominations for blended learning experiences be presented for awards that include online and blended contexts?

COLE considers blended courses a subset of online learning and the OOEA program includes consideration of blended initiatives and practices and their integration of online teaching methods and technologies with other delivery strategies.

The rubric referenced for the Oklahoma Online Excellence teaching award references “online/blended” teaching in the first section to indicate that blended teaching/initiatives were eligible for award consideration. Only the term “online” appears in the criteria wording in order to render the readability of the rubric less cumbersome.

Evaluation of nominations that relate to blended learning will consider the integration of online facets of learning with the other learning environments/modalities teaching that the nomination entails.

Will nominations be evaluated by selection committee members from the nominated institution?
No. Nominations will be evaluated by committee members that are not affiliated with the individual, program, team, or institution nominated for an award.

In addition, members of COLE and/or the selection committee who are nominated for an award do not evaluate nominations in the category for which they have been nominated.

May I submit an award on behalf of someone else?

Yes. However, given that nominees often have the most in-depth knowledge of their work, we recommend working closely with the nominee to obtain information and evidence to support the nomination.

May I nominate myself?


Are Council for Online Learning Excellence (COLE) members eligible for COLE awards?

Yes, with the exception of a COLE subcommittee nominated as a collective entity.

COLE members are active in leading online learning within their organizations so we expect that they might be nominated for awards. However, the activities presented for recognition should include significant initiatives external to work done for COLE committees and initiatives. A nomination might reference some activities related to COLE participation as one facet of the narrative and/or evidence, or reference COLE as one vehicle for sharing an initiative or innovation; however, activities and initiatives at the nominee’s home institution or professional online education organizations other than COLE should form a significant part of the nomination narrative and supporting evidence.

If you are not sure if an individual or team qualifies for an award, please contact the selection committee chair with your questions. COLE is happy to help you determine how best to present your nomination idea.

May unsuccessful nominations from a previous year's award nomination cycle be resubmitted?

Yes. We receive many strong nominations each year, but, unfortunately, may select only one award recipient per category with rare exception. Therefore, we encourage and welcome submissions for nominations that were submitted previously but not selected for an award. We recommend that materials for resubmitted nominations be reviewed for any items that you might want to update and, in some instances, strengthen.

When the nominee is a team, how do I clarify that there are multiple nominees even though there is only one individual indicated in the nominee field?

The nomination form includes fields both for the nominee and for indicating the name as it should appear on the award. Indicate the team leader in the nominee field and use the “name as it should appear on the award” field to enter the collective team name or the names of all team members. If there are more than 3-4 team members, the group should be referenced collectively. For example, “Center for Teaching and Learning, Winning Community College.”

The nomination narrative should also reference the group as a whole when describing accomplishments for which the team is being nominated to help clarify that a team and not just the team leader is being nominated.

Will my nomination materials be kept confidential?
Yes. All nominations and related materials are used for judging purposes only and will remain confidential.
Is there a limit to the number of submissions an individual or organization may submit?
What is the absolute latest time and date for submitting a nomination?

11:59 PM PT on the indicated nomination due date. The January deadline date allows the selection committee to complete its work before the opening of the COLE Learning Innovations Summit when awardees are announced and may not be extended.

Will a recipient be recognized in each category every year?

That is the goal of the Oklahoma Online Excellence recognition program. However, there are circumstances in which there might not be an award, or there might be more than one award, in one or more categories. The decision not to make awards or to make multiple awards in any given category is at the discretion of OSRHE working in collaboration with the COLE Director and the COLE awards selection committee.

When will award winners be notified?

The OSRHE strives to notify award recipients and non-recipients by email no later than the week before the COLE Learning Innovations Summit.

Is there a nomination fee?

 2020 Selection Committee

  • Chris Austin, PhD, Associate Professor of Physics, Chemistry and Physics, Oklahoma Christian University
  • Jake Boedecker, MS, Coordinator and Chair of Distance/Online Learning, Northwestern Oklahoma State University
  • Pamela Louderback, Library Director, Associate Professor/Library Services, Northeastern State University Broken Arrow
  • Stacy Southerland, PhD, Professor of Spanish, Institute for Learning Environment Design, University of Central Oklahoma, Committee Chair (Non-Voting)
  • Glenne’ Whisenhunt, PhD, Director, Center for Learning & Teaching, Oklahoma City Community College


2019 OOEA Recipients


 Dawn M. Pearce

University of Central Oklahoma



Institute for Learning Environment Design

University of Central Oklahoma


Leadership: Individual


Marci Grant

Southwestern State University


Past Recipients


2018 OOEA Recipients


 Online Learning Department

Tulsa Community College

Mr. Dominguez and his team are praised by colleagues across campus for their online faculty development project, “Ongoing Professional Development Plan for Faculty Who Teach Online”. This initiative targets improving online education outcomes by strengthening online teaching skill development for faculty. It requires full-time faculty to attend a recognized and significant training activity and meet the training outcome of demonstrating a proven effort to improve online course design or content. This innovative, three-year program gives faculty members the flexibility to select one of eight options, all with the goal of improving online teaching.



Dr. Stacy Southerland

University of Central Oklahoma

Dr. Southerland’s colleagues describe her online teaching and learning environment design practices as a “pillar of excellence.” She has been recognized for innovative, creative teaching with UCO’s Vanderford Initiative Award, given by UCO’s President Don Betz for exceptional initiative in support of character, civility, community and leadership and the USDLA Teaching Award. Her dedication to helping students learn online is evidenced in her effective online course design and teaching practices that support learner success in UCO’s online Elementary Spanish courses. Dr. Southerland’s commitment to helping students excel academically learn is evidenced by students comments expressing appreciation for her empathy for and understanding of their needs as second language learners, the high academic standards she sets, and her effectiveness in helping them achieve course outcomes.


Leadership: Individual

Dr. Gary Dotterer

Rogers State University

Dr. Dotterer is known as a “tireless advocate for student and faculty needs in online education.” As a leader in online teaching and learning, he 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. His endeavors have yielded tangible results: even when on-ground enrollment has declined, online enrollment has continued to grow under his leadership.


Leadership: Team

Courtney Kneifl, Eddie Huebsch, Zena Chatman Madi, Kevin Buck

Office of Information Technology

 University of Oklahoma

OU Information Technology (OU IT) is a nationally recognized, leading information technology organization in higher education. It has demonstrated ongoing excellence in user experience, community engagement, and innovation on the University of Oklahoma’s Norman campus. OU IT has successfully promoted student engagement. Office staff recognize that the process of coming to college can be overwhelming with new people to meet, a new place to live, classes to locate, and jobs to find, all in addition to coursework that is far more challenging than anything students have previously experienced. To make this time less stressful, OU IT ensures that students can 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. To prepare students for this transition, the team refreshed the university’s Tech Bootcamp course to showcase the new LMS. By adding multimedia content and offering incentives for participation, the team has increased student engagement with technology used to complete coursework.

2017 Award Recipients