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UW Professor Named Technology in Education Faculty Fellow

May 20, 2011
Karen Williams

A passion ignited in the mid-1990s has led to a professor in the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Natural Resources receiving the Technology in Education (TIE) faculty fellow position in the UW Outreach School's Division of Outreach Credit Programs.

Karen Williams, in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS), was one of the first online instructors at UW in the 1990s and sought to apply best practices in active teaching and learning strategies to distance learning. Now, she'll be responsible for highlighting the Outreach School's innovative, curricular, research and training opportunities. She is the first such faculty fellow. Her duties begin this fall.

"I was completely taken by surprise and still feel incredibly honored to be asked," says Williams. "A big focus will be for me to help design a permanent TIE faculty fellows program for Outreach Credit Programs."

TIE is the research and development program that integrates with the distance education mission of the Outreach School and Division of Outreach Credit Programs, says Reed Scull, director of Outreach Credit Programs and associate dean of the Outreach School.

"In Karen, we have someone with a solid track record of publications in distance education," he says. "She has a record of academic leadership at the university that is equally impressive. We cannot be more pleased with Karen's agreement to be the first TIE faculty fellow next fall."

Following Williams' immersion in distance learning in the 1990s, she created the distance program in child development in FCS.

"I recognized that distance education was a way for Head Start teachers and others to be able to meet their career goals when they couldn't leave their families and jobs to come to campus," says Williams. "Equity and access are core values for me. Since then, I've been teaching online, directing distance programs and doing research on pedagogy in online courses. It's a passion!"

The fellowship entails a 50-percent buyout of her time from FCS. Professor Donna Brown, head of the department, says she is delighted Williams' skills and interest in distance education and student learning have been recognized.

"Karen has been a true leader in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and on campus in creating distance learning opportunities for students and also encouraging many of the faculty members to explore distance teaching experiences," Brown notes. "I'm sure she will be a great role model for others interested in distance education and for future TIE faculty fellows."

Christine Boggs, TIE program director, is excited to be working with Williams.

"Karen is amazing, and I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with her so closely," says Boggs. "We have had more than 15 scholarly presentations and papers associated with TIE to date and, with Karen's amazing expertise, we hope to increase that number."

Williams was head of FCS from 2003 to 2010. She has served as director of UW's  Bachelor of Applied Science program since 2008. The bachelor of applied science degree is awarded by the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

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