BGSU’s investment in e-learning over the past decade has paid dividends for hundreds of northwest Ohio students seeking to finish their bachelor’s and master’s degree programs online.
Bruce Edwards and Connie Molnar
Now, the experience and expertise that built an inventory of over 500 online courses and 15 online degree and certificate programs has been recognized by the Ohio Board of Regents (OBOR) and its Ohio Learning Network (OLN).
BGSU has been selected as the site for Ohio’s new OLN Center for Excellence in E-Learning, which will be supervised by Dr. Bruce Edwards, associate vice president for academic technology and e-learning, and Connie Molnar, director of the Center for Online and Blended Learning (COBL).
Sheryl Hansen, the OBOR staff member who announced the center’s creation, said “the Center for Online and Blended Learning at BGSU has knowledge, proven capacity and a rich history in supporting quality e-learning.”
As a result, Hansen added, campuses statewide can benefit from COBL’s established excellence in providing “support, training and ongoing professional development” that meet the criteria of national best practices and quality standards.
The OLN center will be launched next spring with the help of $80,000 in state funds for local staffing for BGSU, and for small grants to support pilot projects in quality assurance in online education across the state.
Albert Colom, vice president for enrollment management, agreed that the distinction BGSU has received is well warranted. “The state’s recognition of the achievements of Academic Technology and COBL testifies not only to the quality of our online programs, but also to the quality of the leadership of our staff,” he said.
Edwards, who has been leading BGSU’s distance education efforts since 2001, noted that “talented and dedicated faculty collaborating with skilled instructional designers make the difference in delivering quality coursework and maintaining student-centered support services.”
The center, said Molnar, “will benefit BGSU by drawing even more attention to the quality and diversity of its online programs, and giving our faculty the recognition they deserve for innovative instruction that maintains the integrity and rigor of their curricula.”
BGSU is fully accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and the North Central Association to offer any of its degrees online. And Edwards and Molnar are both involved in OBOR Chancellor Eric Fingerhut’s strategic planning group that is creating a 10-year plan for expanding access to Ohio’s degree programs through online delivery.
“This is an auspicious time for BGSU to take on the leadership of this new center, and we look forward to the challenge and benefits of working with colleagues across the state in advancing Ohio’s reputation for innovation and quality in online education,” Edwards added.