As a recently appointed Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Fellow, it is a huge privilege for me to write this blog to connect with you as my OLC family, network of colleagues, and fellow readers. I am deeply honored to be the recipient of the OLC Fellows Award in the category of medical education on November 19, 2019. It is worth 19 years of my efforts and dedication to advance online learning for physicians and other healthcare professionals. I was nominated for this honorary award by a colleague who knows my work within the field. Due to this nomination, this honor was conferred upon me by the OLC Board of Directors for my outstanding work and dedication to advancing online learning for health professions and medical education.
OLC (formerly Sloan-C) is the largest consortium in online teaching and learning in the United States. The organization has contributed to thousands of educators’ growth and offered opportunities to recognize success and accomplishments. It is also reaching out to educators in its network, including underserved and minority groups around the country. The OLC Fellows Award reflects one’s long term achievements in the field of online education. Since 2007 I have been an active participant and presenter at OLC conferences. In 2010, I completed the certification for the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL) program sponsored by Penn State and the OLC. All my involvement and hard work in the online teaching and learning area has been rewarding. Let me share my deeply joyful moment when I received my award:
- It was a wonderful feeling being recognized on stage at the Welcome and Keynote Address at the OLC Accelerate fall conference, especially receiving a commemorative plaque designated for this honor.
- I felt the real recognition; anything that was discounted throughout my professional career and all the challenges I encountered was replaced with the feeling of making an impact. It was reenergizing, and motivating.
- This recognition elevated my professional profile both within my institution and externally.
- It re-affirmed the importance of individual and collaborative efforts in teaching and learning online.
For me, the OLC Fellows designation is the culmination of many years of service to the profession and I believe it holds a similar meaning for others. That’s why I want to encourage you to consider how you can help OLC continue the tradition of recognizing those who have made significant contributions to the organization and the field of online learning.
Who should be nominated, and why?
The nomination criteria for the awards have been established by “the OLC Board of Directors as below, but the evaluation metrics uses at least three of those primary criteria:
- Outstanding qualifications in the field of online learning
- Significant experience in online learning or an allied field
- A record of distinguished service to OLC and/or the field
- Extraordinary leadership in the field of online learning
All these areas are all about extraordinary contributions to the online education world. They mean producing outstanding results and observable changes in online education that create measurable outcomes.
Now that you understand the intent of the award, think about who in your network represents these tenets. This is a wonderful opportunity to honor a colleague, peer, or mentor in your professional community. Maybe it’s someone who serves as a role model and an example to you with significant, observable changes or accomplishments in online teaching and learning. Maybe it’s someone who is forging pathways for major change and access for underserved populations. If any of these scenarios remind you of someone, take the action to nominate them as an OLC Fellow.
How to nominate?
To nominate a colleague,you will find a short list of materials required on this page of the OLC website. Please note that the deadline for nominations is July 31, 2020.
If you are interested in self-nomination, you may: 1) ask someone in your professional circles who knows your work well to nominate you, or 2) someone from your professional circle may volunteer to nominate you.
My longtime collaborator and a friend nominated me for this award. I must confess that I had no clue about my eligibility for this award. One day I was at a conference and received a phone call from her. She told me that she would like to nominate me for this prestigious award, and asked for my CV, including a few references. At that moment. I felt speechless for two reasons: 1) I was not expecting this kind of invitation, and 2) my colleague selected me without my request for it (this was extremely valuable for me and touched my heart). Before I started writing this blog, I was curious about her motivation to nominate me, so I sent her an email. This is what she said:
“When I think about what prompted me to nominate you, it seemed like one of the biggest ways I could thank you for all that you have done to support me and so many others. You have never turned away a question and have always embraced situations as opportunities and for that, I think you’ve developed an exceptional level of expertise in your field. What I love most about all of that is your willingness to share/give back to the community. Whether it’s by volunteering to be a session chair at OLC, presenting workshops/presentations, or working side-by-side with a faculty member, you’re giving back in ways that have a positive impact on the practice of online education.”
My nominator was absolutely right. I am an educator who likes sharing and helping anyone who needs my guidance or mentorship. I started my career as a schoolteacher. I think teaching runs in my blood. In fact, when I was at the teacher’s college in Turkey, I was educated with the philosophy of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk who was the founder of modern Turkish Republic. He said, “A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.” I always feel this in my heart as to my commitment to education. Teaching creates all other professions. Therefore, I am deeply committed to excellence in education. Before my doctoral study in the United States, I worked for the Ministry of National Education in Turkey for over 15 years.
I am also a goal-oriented person and care for outcomes whatever I do in my professional practices. Professor Harden (2007), medical educator has the analogy of ostriches, peacocks and beavers for teachers who react differently when it comes to implementing outcome-based education. These three groups of individuals and/or institutions can be identified as below:
- Ostriches do not “take account of learning outcomes in their teaching” or “see no merit in an outcome-based approach to education.”
- Peacocks put their energies into developing a set of learning objectives as outcomes and flashily display them but stop there. Of course, this is considered as “window dressing and has no impact.”
- Beavers not only design and develop a set of learning outcomes but also work hard to implement them in terms of their intended goals and outcomes. They always “make decisions about the curriculum on the basis of the specified learning outcomes.”
I am a beaver in all my educational efforts, and I believe that, as I share my work and help people, I can produce more. I always present at the national/international conferences to 1) promote my work by sharing my knowledge and experience, 2) build new skills and knowledge through examples of work created by others, 3) stay current on the latest technology and educational trends, 4) stay connected with my network and build new relationships, and 5) get new ideas that are inspirational to keep my scholarly work going.
To sum up, we sometimes undervalue our accomplishments and/or nominating someone for an award may involve a great amount of responsibility. However, someone’s outstanding work with online learning, extraordinary contributions to the field, distinguished service to OLC, and extraordinarily leadership definitely deserve recognition as an OLC Fellow to advance online teaching and learning creating a positive, long-term impact globally in the educational world. During the current pandemic, the importance of online learning has become even more evident. We need outstanding online leaders and more recognized fellows who have a strong commitment and passion to create a more innovative program with a consistent curriculum that maximizes learning opportunities without walls.
On a personal level, receiving the OLC Fellows Award has been really humbling as I sit in the presence of so many well-established leaders in the online learning field. Not being a native in this country, this makes me feel good having equal access to this type of opportunity. Finally, I would like to recognize everyone who has been an enduring inspiration to me in my professional growth and would like to thank my OLC family and my nominator whose support and friendship mean more to me than I can ever express in words. I am also so grateful for the opportunity that you have given me to write this blog.
Harden, RM. (2007). Outcome-based education- the ostrich, the peacock and the beaver. Medical Teacher, 29: 666-671.