Meet the 2023 OLC Award of Excellence and Scholarship Recipients

Transformative learning experiences are made possible through the tireless dedication of practitioners. Untold hours of development, design, testing, and expertise must come together to create meaningful learning opportunities.

The digital learning community can collectively advance by discovering the impactful work of their peers. That’s why the OLC recognizes outstanding contributions to the field through annual awards, presented in conjunction with our Innovate conference. It is our hope that these honors will spread awareness about effective practices and serve as a springboard for innovation.

“We congratulate this year’s award winners on their extraordinary achievements in online and blended learning,” said OLC CEO Dr. Jennifer Mathes. “We are grateful for the tangible results of their passion and commitment to our evolving field.”

These game changing individuals could be your future collaborators. Learn more about their work below, and don’t miss the opportunity to join them at Innovate 2023 in Nashville, Tennessee as they are honored at our awards ceremony.

2023 Award of Excellence Winners

OLC’s membership is a community of tremendous talent. Our annual awards program enables us to spotlight meaningful innovation and leadership in online, blended, and digital learning. The winners in each category are recognized for their alignment with OLC’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education – learning effectiveness, access, scale, and faculty and student satisfaction – as well as contributions to advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Please join us in congratulating the selected winners:

Excellence in Design Practice

Dr. Enas Alwafi, Umm Al-Qura University – “Deanship in Online Learning”

Dr. Awalfi is recognized for the Deanship of E-Learning and Distance Education, tasked with transforming traditional courses into interactive online offerings through an intricate design and development process. The award recognizes the success of the online course “General Chemistry 1,” which has increased access and equity while maintaining high satisfaction from both students and faculty.

“Winning the OLC award is considered an indicator for the hard work and dedication towards the achievement of quality and excellence in the field of digital learning,” said Dr. Alwafi. “Winning this award is not a limited achievement that belongs to Umm Al-Qura University in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, but also represents evidence for the Kingdom’s excellence and leadership in online learning development.”

 Alex Frizzell, Blair Stamper, Chris Mullenbach, Enoch Park, Jeremy Bailey, Kory Trosclair, Lynn Wahl, Melanie Lewis, Pariss Coleman, Sam Gist, and Tre’ Neal – Course Production Team, University of North Carolina Charlotte – “UNC Charlotte Course Development Process”

The Course Production Team in the Center for Teaching and Learning is honored for their work, which engages in strategic course development by fostering collaboration among faculty, leadership, and instructional designers. This cohort-based model ensures instructional quality through rigorous standards for learning effectiveness and by compensating faculty for participation as subject matter experts.

“The Course Production Team in the School of Professional Studies at UNC Charlotte is honored to receive the Excellence in Design Practice Award,” said Lynn Wahl, Director of Course Production. “We’ve worked very hard these past couple of years to improve our processes, relationships, and courses and are excited to see that work honored by the Online Learning Consortium.”

Excellence in Online and Blended Learning Support

Jeffrey Orridge, Jennifer Hinshelwood, and Jane Silva, TVO – “TVO Independent Learning Centre (TVO ILC)”

Orridge, Hinshelwood, and Silva are recognized for the achievements of TVO ILC, the largest online secondary school in Canada. Reaching students in over 95 countries, its offerings combine scalability with high quality, interactive multimedia design that reflects the diverse experiences and perspectives of its learner communities. TVO ILC is committed to student satisfaction as a vehicle for learner persistence and achievement.

“TVO is honored to receive this award, particularly as it aligns so closely with our guiding purpose to inspire learning that changes lives and enriches communities,” said Jennifer Hinshelwood, COO of TVO. “We’re proud to put our expertise to work in supporting the Ministry of Education’s strategy to provide quality online learning for students across the province.”

Excellence in Online and Blended Learning Innovation

Dr. Kristy Buccieri, Trent University – “Understanding Homelessness in Canada”

Dr. Buccieri is honored as a faculty lead in the development of “Understanding Homelessness in Canada: From the Street to the Classroom,” an open-access multimedia resource that combines field expert knowledge with contributions from people with lived homelessness experience. The adaptable set of assets includes videos, interactive text boxes, and visual art, and has been curated for deployment in a variety of educational settings as an online course, e-textbook, YouTube video series, podcast series, or professional development module.

“Our team’s primary goal in creating this resource was to engage people in meaningful conversation about the diversity and complexity of homelessness, using a range of open education tools,” shared Dr. Buccieri. “We are utterly humbled by the public uptake, support we have received, and this significant recognition from the OLC, which we hope will bring even more people into this important conversation.”

Dr. John R. Watret, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Worldwide Campus – “International Certificate in Aviation Management”

Dr. Watret is recognized for work on the International Certificate in Aviation Management, a 15-month blended program that combines facilitated and asynchronous online learning with in-person residencies, culminating in an on-campus project presentation and graduation ceremony. The multimodal course is designed to fit the schedule demands of professionals working in the aviation industry, while providing learners with the benefits of face-to-face interaction with colleagues and expert faculty. The program is in high demand and its benefits are recognized by Brazilian airlines that employ its graduates.

“We are extremely honored to receive this recognition by the Online Learning Consortium,” said Dr. Watret. “We take great pride in the development and delivery of our programs, and we are exceptionally proud of the Aviation Management Program and our collaboration with the several Brazilian organizations involved with it. We have seen the positive impact of this program, and we look forward to its continued success.”

Excellence in Data and Learning Analytics Design

Dr. Jamie Holcomb, Unitek Learning – “Data Infrastructure Project”

Dr. Holcomb is honored for her work on the institution’s data infrastructure transformation, which was deployed to remove silos and centralize key departments and services while improving student success and faculty experience. Custom data dashboards use predictive analytics and automated processes, enabling timely interventions to assist at-risk learners while decreasing attrition rates. These innovations have fostered greater efficiencies, seamless communication, and improved learning outcomes.

“Unitek Learning is extremely honored to receive this award, which reflects a deep commitment of our team and organization to use data to support our students, faculty, and staff, while strengthening outcomes at all levels,” said Dr. Holcomb.

Karen Swan OLJ Outstanding Research Achievement Award in Online Education

This award recognizes excellence in including scholarly research and writing, leadership and service in research, and contributions to advancing the field. It is a highly selective honor that is not selected through OLC’s awards submission process; rather, individuals are chosen by the OLJ Editorial Board.

Charles Graham, Brigham Young University

“I am honored to receive this OLC award for online learning research named in memory of Karen Swan,” Graham shared. “Karen was a respected researcher and beloved colleague to many of us doing online learning research.”


Innovate 2023 Scholarship Winner

OLC Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Scholarship

This scholarship was established to honor digital learning leaders who are part of a historically excluded community. Awardees are recognized for their thought leadership and contributions to advancing equity, inclusion, diversity, and advocacy in the online learning field. This organizational support is intended to bolster access to professional development opportunities and strengthen communities of practice.

Dr. Hong Wang, Northern Virginia Community College

“I’m truly honored to receive the OLC DEI Scholarship,” shared Dr. Wang. “I’m very grateful to OLC and its Nominations, Awards, and Recognition Committee for this incredible recognition for the advocacy and work I love to do each day.”

We look forward to celebrating these achievements and more at Innovate 2023!

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