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International award for Memorial

Michael Moore (right, chair, EDEN Adjudication Committee) congratulates Drs. Bruce Sheppard and Timothy Seifert, Faculty of Education

By Courtenay Griffin and Heidi Wicks

The Gaspar Corte Real statue across from the Confederation Building isn’t the only gift Portugal has given St. John’s. They’ve now bestowed EDEN upon Newfoundlanders and Labradorians.

The European Distance and E-Learning Network (EDEN) Award for Best Research Paper now rests at Memorial University, thanks to the hard work of Dr. Tim Seifert and Bruce Sheppard, Faculty of Education, and Ann Marie Vaughan, director, Distance Education and Learning Technologies (DELT).

“Having scholars throughout Europe recognize our work in this way is quite reaffirming of the work that we are doing within the Killick Centre for Research in e-learning within the Faculty of Education,” said Dr. Sheppard. “It is a privilege yet very humbling experience, to be recognized as producing scholarly work that ranks among the best in the world.”

Drs. Tim Seifert and Sheppard presented Examining the Effectiveness of Distance Education: Results from Multi-Level Modeling on June 13 in Lisbon, Portugal at the annual EDEN conference, which aims to foster developments in the ever-evolving field of e-learning research. The conference has become a major academic and professional distance and e-learning event in Europe.

“During the last decade, there has been unprecedented growth in the use of information technology as a means of providing educational opportunities to those who wish to pursue post secondary studies through distance education,” Dr. Seifert explained the paper’s content. “We found that rather than performance in distance education being comparable to that in a traditional classroom, students in distance education are outperforming those in the traditional classroom settings in some of the studies.”

Ms. Vaughan said that Memorial’s presence and success at this conference is just another representation of the strength of distance learning and e-learning research in the province and at this university.

“As a practitioner in the field it was a very valuable experience for me to collaborate on this research with faculty members. Newfoundland and Labrador is well known internationally for its strength in distance education from K-12 to college to university. This award adds to our growing reputation, and I am truly delighted to be part of the team.”

The paper was chosen from 230 others that were presented at this major academic gathering, which hosted delegates from 42 nations.

According to EDEN guidelines ( the 32 competition finalists were selected through a “high quality selection process which guarantees the branding of a distinguished and reputable award for scholarly conference papers in the field of open, distance and e-learning”.

The selection process, in collaboration with the Ulrich Bernath Foundation for Open and Distance Learning, was conducted by an international jury, which included members from Germany, Hungary, Portugal and the United States.

The research conducted by Drs. Seifert and Sheppard, and Ms. Vaughan is part of the work of the Faculty of Education’s Killick Centre for E-Learning Research, funded under the Community University Research Alliance (CURA) of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC).

In addition to the award-winning paper, two other Killick Centre papers were short-listed for this prestigious honour, reiterating the academic integrity of the Killick Centre’s research.