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Distance education unit lands four national awards

By Courtenay Alcock

Memorial University's Distance Education, Learning and Teaching Support (DELTS) unit received four awards at the Canadian Network for Innovation in Education (CNIE) awards ceremony in Canmore, Alta., recently.

Rob Wells, acting director of DELTS, commented on the diversity of the awards, as they recognize four different aspects of DELTS' services that collectively work to enhance teaching and learning at the university.

"It's commendable that we've been recognized for such a varied set of projects – from developing effective ways to connect with and retain our distance students, to creating technology applications that enable students to get up-to-date information about working or studying abroad with ease," he said. "The creativity within our unit, and the inspiration it generates, is vital to all of our collaborative work and I thank the partners from these award-winning projects for giving us the opportunity to work with them."

A complete list of awards includes the Award of Excellence in the Overall Use of Technology in Learning and Teaching for the International Experience Module; the Award of Excellence in Student Services for the CONNECT Program; the Award of Excellence in the Partnership/Collaboration for the STOPMOStudio: Stop-Motion Animation Workshops; and the Award of Merit in Instructional Design for Education 6705: Nature and Development of School Counseling Services.

The CONNECT program was targeted at new distance education applicants, enabling them to be virtually, fully connected to the Memorial University community. A personalized welcome package by mail and a follow-up phone call encourages registration in courses and directs applicants to a section of the DELTS website that has been designed specifically for them. DELTS' student retention co-ordinator worked with staff from the Office of the Registrar to develop a method to identify new applicants and with DELTS' communication co-ordinator to develop a customized welcome letter that was mailed to all new applicants, along with a DELTS branded travel mug.

The International Experience Module was a partnership between DELTS and Memorial's International Centre, and claimed the top prize for the use of technology in teaching and learning. The module provides an opportunity for students interested in working or studying abroad to obtain pre-departure, destination-specific and re-entry information. Through the application, students are able to identify opportunities abroad, application requirements, information regarding international destinations and regulations, cultural norms and day-to-day practical information pertaining to a host country, among other things. Plus, the module has mobile capability so that it can be retrieved on any mobile device, and it keeps all related information and documentation in a secure, online environment so it can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Adding to that, the unit was recognized for a partnership with the National Film Board (NFB). In the Stop Motion Animation project, both organizations worked together to bring NFB's face-to-face Stop-Motion Animation Workshop into people's home for fun, or inside classrooms where it can be used as an effective and dynamic teaching and learning tool while inspiring creativity and innovation through the online environment.