WOW Media Release 2007

WOW Award Nominations

WCET members are on the cutting edge in the use of educational technology tools or techniques for instruction both on- and off-campus. The WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award recognizes: outstanding innovation, quality improvement, or other achievements in using educational technology tools or techniques to educate (or support educating) students.


WCET Announces Awards for Outstanding Use of Technology in Higher Education

Boulder, Colorado — WCET is pleased to announce the names of the five recipients of the 2007 WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award: Kansas State University, Rio Salado College, Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, Minnesota Online, and the American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service. The annual award recognizes innovative and effective uses of technologies in educating and serving students.

“The WOW Award represents a way to recognize and celebrate the best and most promising practices within the WCET community,” says Paul Wasko, WCET Awards Committee chair and assistant director for e-learning services and related efforts in the Academic Affairs Division of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities. “For the 2007 WOW Award, there was a wonderful slate of possible recipients that made the committee’s job especially difficult. This year’s recipients reinforced the value of innovative solutions and the need to always keep in mind the needs of the student as consumer.” The 2007 WOW recipients include:

Kansas StateUniversity: ExpanSIS – A Multi-Institutional Student Information System. The university’s Institute for Academic Alliances and Office of Mediated Education created ExpanSIS, a secure, web-based system for exchanging time-sensitive information about courses and students among partner institutions. Developed for consortia where students enroll at their home institution for courses taught by faculty at partner institutions, ExpanSIS contains consortium course information for partner institutions to create course sections for enrollment on their own campuses. After students enroll at home, the information is entered into ExpanSIS, so the teaching institution can access course rosters; set up course access for students; and track student drops and refunds. The teaching institution records grades directly into ExpanSIS for enrolling institutions to transfer back into their own systems.

Rio Salado College: Online Teacher Education Programs “Virtual Practicum” Experience. Rio Salado College’s online teacher preparation Virtual Practicums are professional videotapes of live classroom experiences that demonstrate classroom techniques that are critical for students to learn but that may not be available during practicums or student-teaching experiences. The Virtual Practicums are created by master teachers and provide a value-added element to content areas that students find difficult, such as phonics, classroom management, and structured English immersion. Special education practicums are also available.

Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium: A Multi-state Collaborative eTutoring Program. The Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium has developed a collaborative online tutoring program that brings together the resources of two- and four-year public and private institutions of higher education. Serving students at 33 colleges and universities in seven states, eTutoring.org utilizes tutors provided by the institutions and trained in the use of its technology and online tutoring protocols. All student and tutor interaction is hosted on eTutoring’s own synchronous and asynchronous platform, facilitating access to a single program that’s available to the students at all participating institutions.

Minnesota Online:Support Center. The Minnesota Online Support Center was created by several agencies interested in fostering a system in which services were student- and customer-centered. Minnesota State Colleges and Universities, Minnesota Online, Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs, eFolio Minnesota, Online College in the High School, and Distance Minnesota together created a support center whose team is able to respond quickly, engaging with individuals associated with the partner programs. This team provides individualized, accurate, and compassionate support to veterans and active military personnel from across Minnesota, as well as offering 24/7 educational support to individuals worldwide. Users may search the online FAQs, ask questions online, engage in online chat with a team member, or call through toll-free or international phone numbers. Minnesota State Community and Technical College, one of the regional consortium colleges, is the host of the center.

American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service: The Online College for Funeral Service Education. American Academy McAllister Institute of Funeral Service (AAMI), one of the oldest accredited funeral service schools, based in New York City, discovered a large, unmet national need for access to funeral service schools: 19 states didn’t have a funeral service school and 70 percent of the existing schools were community colleges that only served their own region. AAMI’s solution was to launch a comprehensive, fully online degree program in funeral service. With the assistance of consultants and a contract with the Connecticut Distance Learning Consortium, AAMI offered its first six online courses in January 2006. By April 2007 all courses (except the clinical capstone experience, which will be held in New York City) were offered online each semester, and AAMI enrollments had doubled.


WCET is a cooperative that’s actively engaged in sharing cutting-edge research and best practices in the effective use of technology in higher education. Its nearly 300 members are colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations located in 46 states and nine countries. Through WCET, members work together to shape e-learning’s future in higher education and ensure its quality. WCET (formerly the Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications) is a unit of the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education.

The Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and its 15 member states work collaboratively to expand educational access and excellence for all citizens of the West. By promoting innovation, cooperation, resource sharing, and sound public policy among states and institutions, WICHE strengthens higher education’s contributions to the region’s social, economic, and civic life. Our programs – Student Exchange, Policy Analysis and Research, WCET, and Mental Health – are working to find answers to some of the most critical questions facing higher education today, investigating issues such as access to higher education for low-income students, the financing of higher education and student financial aid, higher education’s role in workforce and economic development, articulation between K-12 and higher education, and distance education. The organization is governed by a 45-member gubernatorially appointed body.

Russell Poulin
WCET Associate Director