Online Learning Consortium Announces 2020 Award Winners for Outstanding Work in Online and Blended Education

Recipients to be recognized during virtual ceremony at OLC Accelerate 2020 Conference on Nov. 9 

PR Newswire: NEWBURYPORT, Mass. – The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) today announced the 2020 award winners for outstanding work advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. 

The award recipients below were hand selected by OLC’s esteemed board of directors and awards selection committee for their exemplary contributions to the field.

The Bruce N. Chaloux Scholarship for Early Career Excellence recognizes Marleigh Perez, Ed.D., Director of Student Success, Oregon State University Ecampus, for achieving extraordinary accomplishments in the field of online education. Dr. Perez sets high team expectations to serve a growing population of more than 10,000 adult online learners and improve student success initiatives.

The Excellence in Faculty Development for Online Teaching Award recognizes Jason Drysdale, Ed.D., Director of Instructional Design & Program Development, University of Colorado, for the development and delivery of Online Skills Mastery (OSM) – a comprehensive program for faculty professional development in online teaching. OSM, pronounced “awesome,” began as a course to help faculty move online during an LMS transition in 2014 and has since evolved far beyond its roots. OSM will soon be extended to the entire University of Colorado system.

The Excellence and Innovation in Online Teaching Award recognizes Sean Nufer, Ph.D., Director of Teaching and Learning, TCS Education System, for outstanding and creative use of appropriate educational technologies to teach an online course in higher education. Rather than trying to replicate components of a traditional learning environment, Dr. Nufer uses Canva, screencasts, asynchronous collaborative assignments, and other digital tools to successfully break down silos and elevate student performance in an online environment.

The Gomory-Mayadas Leadership Award in Online Education honors Julie Golden Botti, Ed.D., Executive Director for Online and Continuing Education, Florida Atlantic University, for exemplifying the transformative leadership and ideals of Ralph Gomory and A. Frank Mayadas. Dr. Golden Botti created and implemented online initiatives aimed at student and faculty success, including scaling the Center for Online and Continuing Education, constructing a successful and active Continuing Education subdivision, overseeing FAU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institutes, and more.

The John R. Bourne Outstanding Online Program Award recognizes Lesley Casarez, Ph.D., Program Coordinator/Associate Professor, Angelo State University, for an outstanding continuing education program with a proven record of excellence, as demonstrated by its success in providing expanded access, learning effectiveness, and high levels of student and faculty satisfaction in a cost-effective manner. To address the increasing shortage of school counselors and mental health professionals, ASU shifted its masters’ programs in educational counseling fully online and is now offering almost all course content at no charge to students.

The Leadership in Equity and Inclusion in Online Learning Award honors Ellen Beattie, Ph.D., Chief, Adult Instructional Services, Maryland LABOR, for leading Maryland adult education programs in developing and creating online learning programming to promote student equity and inclusion. Dr. Beattie has also incorporated research and evidence-based practices to ensure the effectiveness of these programs and related practices. 

The OLC Effective Practice Awards recognizes Angela Francis, Ph.D., Assistant Dean of General Education & First Year Experience, CUNY School of Professional Studies (CUNY SPS); and Kathleen Melago, Doctor of Musical Arts, Associate Professor of Music Education, Slippery Rock University, for effective techniques, strategies and practices to advance quality and access to online programs. Dr. Francis and CUNY SPS use a three-pronged approach to prepare students for enrollment in online courses by determining if online learning is right for them and if so, providing tools to help them succeed. Dr. Melago’s virtual teaching partnership enhances music education majors’ distance-learning skills for future teaching positions by pairing them with 7th-12th grade music students who benefit from the one-to-one instruction.

The OLC Equity & Inclusion Scholarship recognizes Fabiola Torres, Ethnic Studies Department Chair, Glendale Community College, for significant contributions to the field focused on equity and inclusion. Torres is an equity minded practitioner who has built an academic career with street smarts, activism and ganas (passion in Spanish). Torres uses Culturally Responsive Teaching and Learning strategies while incorporating humanized communication strategies to foster success.

The Online Learning Journal Outstanding Research Achievement in Online Education Award recognizes Florence Martin, Ph.D., Professor in Learning, Design and Technology, Program Director of the Post-Master’s Certificate of University and College Teaching and Program Coordinator of the Ed.D., in Educational Leadership, Learning, Design and Technology concentration at University of North Carolina Charlotte, for extraordinary achievements and research in the field of online education that excel in rigor, prestige and impact. This highly selective award is an honor that an individual cannot seek. Rather, the individual is selected by the OLJ Editorial Board.

“These individuals are not only making a difference within their organizations; they are elevating our community's efforts in advancing quality online and blended learning experiences designed to reach all learners,” said Jennifer Mathes, CEO of OLC. “In a year unlike any other, the award recipients contributions are more vital than ever to improving the quality of online learning, advancing best practice guidance and accelerating innovation in organizations around the world.” 

Award recipients will be recognized at a virtual ceremony Mon., Nov. 9, 2020 at 11:15am ET, followed by a virtual gala at 6:45pm ET during the 2020 OLC Accelerate Conference – collectively one of the largest and most impactful gatherings of the online learning community. In addition to the awards celebrations, more than 425 sessions have been announced to advance innovation in learning for academic leaders, educators, administrators, digital learning professionals and others.

About Online Learning Consortium

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC) is a collaborative community of education leaders and innovators, dedicated to advancing quality digital teaching and learning experiences designed to reach and engage the modern learner – anyone, anywhere, anytime. OLC inspires innovation and quality through an extensive set of resources, including best-practice publications, quality benchmarking, leading-edge instruction, community-driven conferences, practitioner-based and empirical research and expert guidance. The growing OLC community includes faculty members, administrators, trainers, instructional designers, and other learning professionals, as well as educational institutions, professional societies and corporate enterprises. Visit for more information.