Adding to its prestigious award collection from the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), formerly known as the Sloan Consortium, the San José State University (SJSU) School of Information received the 2014 Outstanding Online Program award for its exclusively online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program.
“We are thrilled that our school has been recognized for delivering a high quality innovative online program that meets the learning needs of information professionals around the world!” exclaimed Dr. Sandra Hirsh, director of the SJSU School of Information.
According to the OLC press release, "The OLC Awards acknowledge creative and effective approaches to advancing online education.” The criteria for the Outstanding Online Program award included learning effectiveness, cost effectiveness, student satisfaction, and faculty satisfaction. In addition, the OLC reviewed supporting letters speaking to the quality of the program and considered how the program had “improved access to education by expanding opportunities and/or reducing barriers.”
On the subject of access to learning, Debbie Faires, director of online learning at the SJSU iSchool, believes the school really stands out. “There are numerous aspects to how our school provides access to educational opportunities—not only for matriculated students but also for professionals and all other interested individuals,” explained Faires. “Our school’s degree programs and opportunities such as MOOCs and the Library 2.0 conferences are available regardless of geographic location, and the time commitments involved can be varied according to each person’s current needs.” According to Faires, graduates of the iSchool’s MLIS program highly value both the curriculum and the flexibility of the learning environment. “These features, along with numerous types of academic, administrative and technical support, help ensure access for all who would like to learn,” said Faires.
The top-caliber instructors at the SJSU iSchool are another important factor in the school’s successful educational programs. “We are extremely fortunate to have so many excellent faculty members who teach in our online program,” stated Hirsh. She added that “faculty satisfaction is one of the award criteria,” and asserted that the school ensures both part-time and full-time faculty members are “well-supported and recognized for their contributions.” Hirsh explained, “We provide all faculty with technology support, pedagogical and instructional design assistance, a series of online workshops called T3 (Teaching Tips and Techniques), a threaded discussion in the learning management system, as well as have many opportunities to be involved in the school.”
Faires expressed that the SJSU iSchool was honored to receive such a notable award. “The Online Learning Consortium is a highly respected professional organization dedicated to quality online learning worldwide,” explained Faires. “We have worked hard to study and implement the criteria the OLC has identified for effective online programs. We appreciate all those involved with the school who have helped to make the program excellent and worthy of recognition—students, faculty, administrators, staff members, and others associated with SJSU who serve our students.”
As stated by Burks Oakley II, chair of the Awards Selection Committee, in the OLC press release, "The 2014 recipients represent extraordinary examples of the exciting innovation happening in online learning today, and we congratulate them on their successes."
The OLC will present the Outstanding Online Program award at its annual Online Learning Consortium International Conference in Orlando, Florida, during a luncheon on Oct. 30.