A TNCC Director is Among First Place Technology in Education Award Winners

Published: April 15, 2009

Thomas Nelson Community College’s Director of Distance Learning Ruth Smith was among several Virginia community college instructional designers who earned the first place Technology in Education (TIE) award for the Teaching Online Program (TOP). The first place winner received $1,500.

The annual award recognizes individuals and groups for technological advances that enhance the educational resources offered by the Virginia Community College System (VCCS). Members of the VCCS faculty and staff judged each entry on creativity, potential longevity, usefulness across multiple disciplines and institutions, impact on student success and relevance to the VCCS mission and Dateline 2009.

TOP is an online class for current and aspiring distance learning instructors. The curriculum includes lessons about building a sense of community in the online classroom, voice email tools, providing feedback and other strategies for effective online teaching.

The goal of the program is to provide instructors with the tools they need to continue to offer superb distance learning opportunities for TNCC students.  Smith knows the program will enhance the online experience for TNCC students and increase retention among students in distance learning programs.

TOP debuted at TNCC last summer with a six-week pilot course. It was open to 20 TNCC personnel and five external staff and faculty members associated with the VCCS. So far, 90 instructors have taken the course. Eighty of the participants were affiliated with the College and 10 were from our sister colleges.

After successfully completing the course, instructors became VCCS certified distance learning instructors and their names were added to a growing database of highly-trained VCCS instructors, making more teaching opportunities available for those individuals. The next TOP course will be offered this summer.

PHOTO: Ruth Smith is pictured with (l-r) C.J. Bracken of J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College and Ken Fairbanks of Southwest Virginia Community College.  They are instructional designers who developed the award-winning Teaching Online Program.

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