Pearson Announces 2016 Online Learning Excellence Award Recipients

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Awards Honor K-20 Educators and Administrators Making Significant Contributions to Online Teaching and Administration

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Today, during its 16th annual Cite Online Learning Conference, Pearson announced this year’s online learning excellence award recipients honoring K-20 educators and administrators who are making significant contributions in online education. This year’s honorees are from Peabody Learning Academy, Hart-Ransom Academic Charter School, Indian Creek School, Mountain Education Charter High School, California Community College Online Education Initiative, Blue Mountain College, Excelsior College, and the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. The awards are divided into two categories: K-12 and higher education — Excellence in Online Administration and Excellence in Online Teaching. As part of Pearson’s commitment to inspire and support excellence in online education that drives student success, the company will donate $1,500 to the scholarship fund of each winner’s choice.

Recipients of the Excellence in Online Administration Award include:
K-12
-Seith Bedard, Director, Peabody Learning Academy, Peabody, Massachusetts.
In addition to fulfilling the necessary tasks of an administrator and educator, Seith Bedard takes the extra step to ensure that Peabody Learning Academy students stay motivated to succeed. The Peabody Learning Academy was started from the ground up six years ago. Peabody Veterans Memorial High School approached Bedard to start an alternative high school program for at-risk and dropout students. He worked tirelessly to create a functioning and structured program designed to help all learners. The program has completed its fifth year and has been extremely successful. The dropout rate at Peabody High School, a school of 2,000 students, was five percent annually before the start of this program. Today only 1.4 percent of students drop out of high school. The Academy has graduated 85 students in the last five years. What is even more incredible is that more than 50 graduates are attending or have attended college and pursued other postsecondary educational opportunities.

-David Cline, Principal, Hart-Ransom Academic Charter School, Modesto, California.
David Cline is principal of Hart-Ransom Academic Charter School (HRACS) -- a TK-12 charter school located in Modesto, California. HRACS serves homeschooling students in grades TK-8 and grades 9-12. In conjunction with faculty and staff, Cline achieved excellence in online education through creative and innovative leadership and by implementing online platforms to prepare students for their future. He has nurtured a schoolwide culture that has increased and enhanced the online learning environment for both teachers and students. His promotion of the online learning culture, internal teacher professional development and community promotion of the school has propelled overall enrollment growth by 150 percent and more than doubled high school enrollment in just three years.

Higher Education
-Patricia James - Executive Director, California Community College Online Education Initiative, Sacramento, California
Patricia James is the executive director of the California Community Colleges Online Education Initiative (OEI). This project is intended to support the state’s 113 community colleges to improve student retention and success in online courses and help more students complete their associate degrees and transfer to a four-year school. Under James’ leadership, the project has developed online course design standards and accompanying professional development programs. The project has developed course reviewers and online teachers that are aligned with these standards as well as assessment and online tutorials to help students prepare for successfully completing their online courses. James has overseen the launch of an online tutoring system that includes both a web-based tutoring platform as well as access to professional tutors to augment local tutoring staff. Most significantly, all of these resources are being integrated into a common course management system for the state with more than 90 of the state’s colleges already migrated or seriously considering migrating to the new platform. The strategies and solutions developed and implemented by James and her team are improving student outcomes and saving the state millions of dollars.

-Bruce Kauss - eLearning Coordinator, Blue Mountain College, Pendleton, Oregon
Bruce Kauss is the eLearning coordinator at Blue Mountain Community College in Northeastern Oregon. In 2012, Kauss and his colleagues from other colleges in the state, sought to provide greater programmatic breadth for students in geographically disparate locations through the sharing of courses among member institutions. Kauss took the lead in the development of what became the "Oregon Colleges Course Sharing Consortium," a coalition of eight small- and medium-sized colleges in the state focused on expanding learning opportunities for their students. As its leader, Kauss has driven this initiative by consulting with members and ensuring the best possible experience for consortium members and their students.

Recipients of the Excellence in Online Teaching Award include:
K-12
-Sarah Allen, First Grade Teacher, Indian Creek School, Crownsville, Maryland
Sarah Allen is an online instructor and content creator for Indian Creek School’s blended learning program, BLinc. She created two courses for the youngest blended learning students, grades 1-5, and pioneered the school’s program to enable students to gain a deeper understanding of course content as well as gain confidence in a blended environment. The students who took her course, and their parents, reported a high level of satisfaction in post-course surveys. Her course has also furthered a school-wide effort to engage the youngest students in Indian Creek’s learning management system and to increase student experience with 21st century digital tools. In part because of Allen’s work with the BLinc program, Indian Creek is shifting to authentic digital assignments as classroom teachers begin to introduce these skills on a broader scale. Building on the success of her first class, Allen has created two additional classes, launching in spring 2016 and summer 2016.

-Dianne Hardy, Lead Mathematics Instructor, Mountain Education Charter High School, Cleveland, Georgia
With more than 40 years of education experience, Dianne Hardy began working at the Mountain Education Charter High School (MECHS) in 2005 and when the school transitioned from from a text-based curriculum to an online curriculum, she led the initiative to align the online curriculum to the Georgia state standards. Over the past eight years, she has worked with MECHS staff. Hardy is a strong advocate for online curriculum over printed materials and, under her leadership, the school team ensures that its online programs are designed to be prescriptive and provide instructional feedback that allows the classroom teacher to better meet the needs of the student. Hardy is a true leader in her field of mathematics and in the field of online education.

Higher Education
-Darren Walsh, Assistant VP of Learning and Academic Support Services, Excelsior College, Albany, New York
Darren Walsh is the technical developer and administrator of a new, highly innovative and completely open-source online writing lab, the Excelsior College OWL (EC OWL). Under his leadership, the EC OWL is highly innovative, offering the first-of-its-kind writing support in an open-source environment, one that is designed to respond to the writing crisis in the United States. The EC OWL is unique because it was built from scratch to provide seamlessly integrated multimedia content, and it can be used for free by students, faculty, and programs throughout the world. A national study involving six colleges and 152 students found that students using the OWL in their courses scored 6.6 points higher for their final grades compared to students not learning with the online lab. Walsh is an innovator beyond this new resource as well. In his position he oversees the development of a wide variety of online student resources, including a student orientation, library, career center, bookstore, online student success guide, and integrated online tutoring into the course design process.

-Sean Nufer, eLearning Specialist and Adjunct Professor, Chicago School of Professional Psychology
Sean Nufer, Psy.D., has worn many hats at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He began his career there as an instructional designer for the Center for Academic Excellence where he led workshops on educational technologies, and created engaging tutorials and demonstrations for students and faculty. He then transitioned to a role as a lead academic instructional designer and curriculum subject matter expert for online course development – specializing in incorporating technology into the online classroom, while also training other faculty on how to successfully design and implement effective eLearning content. As an instructional designer, Nufer continually worked to refine the institution’s policies and technologies regarding online learning. He eventually redefined this role when he became the institution’s eLearning specialist, where he continues to work closely with the instructional design team, faculty and executives to research industry trends and new developments in order to recommend and apply best practices to better engage and serve students.

About Pearson
Pearson is the world's learning company, with 36,000 employees in more than 70 countries working to help people of all ages to make measurable progress in their lives through learning. For more information about Pearson, visit http://www.pearsoned.com.

Media Contact: Scott Overland, scott(dot)overland(at)pearson(dot)com, 202-909-4520

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