UW Educators Receive Award for Online Teaching Quality

April 12, 2010
Rhonda Shipp and Randy Weigel

A professor in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources at the University of Wyoming and an extension service emerita educator are being honored for their online community leadership course.

Randy Weigel in the Department of Family and Consumer Sciences and Rhonda Shipp of Cody, who in 2008 retired from the University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service (UW CES), are receiving the Pearson Excellence in Online Teaching award this month. The award is presented to educators using the Pearson LearningStudio platform who demonstrate a significant commitment to quality in online education.

The two teach Understanding Community Leadership, developed for seniors and graduate students. Pearson Learning Solutions offers learning tools, resources and support services for educators. The award will be presented during the organization's online learning conference April 12-14 in Denver.

"In all my years as an educator, I have rarely seen an online course that has been so thoughtfully constructed," said Larry Jansen, online coordinator with the UW Outreach School.

Shipp said her preference prior to teaching this course had been face-to-face educational experiences in real time. "I admit I wondered about online instruction," she said. "I discovered that, even online, the students' personalities became evident as we progressed through the units each week, and I felt like I knew them."

Weigel and Shipp used a variety of tools to make the course experiential and interesting.

"It was important to us to immerse the students in the course materials in ways that increased their level of reflection, absorption and integration of the information," said Shipp. "I was pleased to see their online conversations about the course content demonstrated depth in original thought and analyses."

Shipp and Weigel discovered the parts that worked well and those that needed improvement. The changes are incorporated for this fall's class.

"The instructors have incorporated strong content that blends all the best of extension and outreach teaching strategies with the use of technology and online tools," said Jansen, an instructional designer.

Weigel is the human development specialist with the extension service, and Shipp specialized in community leadership in her educator position in Park County.

The award is a $1,000 donation to the scholarship of the winner's choice.

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