September 15, 2014

The Online Learning Consortium (formerly The Sloan Consortium) has honored Ball State University with the 2014 Excellence in Institution-Wide Online Education Award.

Committee members recognized the school for “embracing online education as a key strategic element of its mission, leading to outstanding online academic programs of quality, scale and breadth.”

Jennifer Bott, associate provost for learning initiatives, said the award is important because it speaks to the expansiveness of the program.

“It is a testament to the dedication of many faculty and others across the BallState campus who understand and are committed to bringing innovation, rigor and engagement to all of our students who are learning online,” Bott said.

Provost Terry King said that the campus wide effort is the result of three years of deliberate and intentional design. Faculty members who teach online classes have thosesessions included as part of the normal load for compensation and expectations, and students have the same admission requirements and access to the same registration and advising resources as their main-campus peers. The result,King said, is a multipronged and holistic program.

“There is increased understanding of the role online and blended education plays in the support of quality learning outcomes of our students,” King said.

According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, the number of students enrolled in at least one online course rose from 20 percent in 2008 to nearly 26 percent in 2012. In the past year at Ball State, Bott said, some 11,000 students have taken at least one class online.

Teresa L. Gross, a 2012 winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching, knows firsthand the benefits of distance learning. The veteran educator from Greenwood completed her master’s degree online at Ball State. “As a working mom who had been out of college for 20 years, I needed a program that would work with me and guide me when I had questions,” Gross said, adding the program was a “perfect fit.”

“The teachers were engaging ... and all of my instructors were very flexible andreachable whenever I had a question,” she said.

Ball State’s award will be presented in October as part of the Online Learning Consortium’s annual conference.