WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award 2022 Award Winners

The WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award recognizes outstanding efforts by member organizations and individuals in applying innovative solutions to a challenging educational need."

WCET is pleased to announce this year’s winners of the WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) award:

  • Higher Education and Real-World Training (HEaRT) –
    Southern New Hampshire University (NH)
  • Increasing Gateway Course Completion with Texas College Bridge – Dallas College (TX)
  • Native American Art Course Redesign – Nicolet College (WI)
  • Tanya Joosten – National Research Center for Distance Education & Technological Advancements (DETA) (WI)

This year we are also highlighting honorable mentions for their contributions to digital learning higher education:

  • Constance Hall – Capella University (MN)
  • Ecampus Multimedia Team and the Department of Chemistry – Oregon State University (OR)
  • Personal Adaptive Learning in Intro Physics – University of Central Florida (FL)

The stories from the WOW awardees will be featured in fall 2022 as a blog series on WCET Frontiers Blog and the WCET Frontiers Podcast.

See below to learn more about each awardee.


Awardee: Southern New Hampshire University – Higher Education and Real-World Training (HEaRT)

Since its inception in 2018, the Higher Education and Real-World Training (HEaRT) program has connected 15 employer partners and over 1800 learners from around the world to transform learning and increase equity. HEaRT is a free, innovative, and asynchronous experiential learning opportunity for Southern New Hampshire University’s (SNHU) diverse group of learners. HEaRT includes learners from SNHU located around the United States and from SNHU’s Global Education Movement (GEM), which includes learners located in refugee camps in Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Lebanon, and Kenya. Online learners have limited internship opportunities and need to develop 21st century skills to navigate today’s complex work environment. The COVID 19 pandemic affected students’ abilities to secure clinical and professional practice experiences, and as a result, students were facing delayed graduation. Accrediting bodies approved the use of alternate options for the practice experiences to alleviate the potential academic progression impacts.

The SNHU nursing and health professions department adapted their established online asynchronous experiential learning model, Higher Education and Real-World Training (HEaRT), to address the students’ needs for practice experiences. This adaptation of the HEaRT model prevented over 400 students from a disruption in their education timelines.

Specifically, learners work together in virtual teams to solve real challenges presented by HEaRT employer partners, industry leaders looking to address healthcare issues. HEaRT has a completion rate of almost 50%, a significant percentage considering HEaRT is optional, free to learners, non-credit bearing, and the learners are generally taking the challenges in addition to their regular coursework. HEaRT learners consistently rate the experience 8.3/10, and over 89% of participants would recommend the learning model to a classmate.

Awardee: Increasing Gateway Course Completion with Texas College Bridge, Dallas College

Launched in 2020, Texas College Bridge was designed to address students’ college readiness gaps. Today, ~500 school districts and greater than 50% of the state’s nonprofit, accredited, postsecondary institutions have adopted the program. Once completed, students can enroll in college-level English and math courses at a participating institution of their choice without having to submit an SAT, ACT, or Texas Success Initiative Assessment score. This policy makes postsecondary education accessible to an ever-growing number of students.

At a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated inequities in course access, test preparation, and other challenges, the Texas College Bridge program is leveling the playing the field and facilitating college readiness and completion for all students.

More information:

Texas College Bridge
NROC Case Study Texas College Bridge

Awardee: Nicolet College- Native American Art Course Redesign

Nicolet College is a small community/technical college in the rural area of northern Wisconsin, where the college shares land with indigenous people. In Spring 2022, the Instructional Effectiveness team and the University Transfer Liberal Art program launched the redesigned course: Native American Art. The course was delivered, online, to students across Wisconsin in the 2022 spring term and has dramatically impacted students. The course design team (the faculty Nate Wilson and Instructional Designer Di Wu) infused Indigenous knowledge and culture into the course by working with tribal expert Ernie St. Germaine, with the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa closely.

Further, the course designers implemented inclusive pedagogy and built a student-driven learning online community by employing multiple innovative online teaching practices. They have changed and broadened student perspectives on Indigenous people, many of whom are their neighbors in the Northwoods and across Wisconsin. Having a good impact on these relationships is one of the highest achievements in making Higher Education more inclusive and equitable.

This project modeled positive collaboration between the college and tribal experts. The college leadership plans to share this project with broader faculty and staff across the campus to showcase how to establish a partnership with community members and positively impact students’ success.

Awardee: Tanya Joosten, National Research Center for Distance Education & Technological Advancements (DETA)

Dr. Tanya Joosten’s vision is to frame research as “research to practice to research” and use that process to transform student learning. Dr. Joosten launched the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA), which works to support students’ access, equity, and success through identifying key research-based learning, instructional, and institutional practices. DETA focuses particular attention on helping first-generation, poverty affected, racially minoritized, and/or impaired or disabled students.

DETA’s initial efforts were supported by the U.S. Department of Education and subsequently, Dr. Joosten has continued the efforts through funding from the Spencer Foundation, the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), WCET (the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies), the University of Wisconsin System Administration, and other organizations. Dr. Joosten convened a national research summit to establish a national agenda to guide research across the country and resources for higher education professionals, including the DETA Research Toolkit, now in its second iteration, which has thousands of downloads in every U.S. state and over 35 countries. The DETA Research Toolkit includes a framework of inquiry, guides to research design, student survey packet, data codebooks, research models, and more.

Equity is a core value of Dr. Joosten; she believes that equity should be considered in every vision, strategy, and practice, which is evident in her leadership of DETA’s effort to transform student learning. See a list of Dr. Joosten’s publications on the DETA website.  


WCET thanks all of the outstanding nominees for submitting their work this year. Our WCET membership community is made of dedicated individuals, teams, and organizations working to ensure all students can access an equitable and successful educational journey.