Elementary education professor earns Rawlings Award for distance education

Topics: Teachers College, Online and Distance Learning

September 13, 2010

Susan Tancock, professor of elementary education, is the winner of the Rawlings Outstanding Distance Education Teaching Award in the School of Extended Education.

The award, established in 2002, honors a full-time professor who has proven to be the most dedicated to teaching continuing education courses at off-campus sites.

Tancock received the award for playing an instrumental role in the expansion of her department's use of online instruction for the master of arts in education (MAE) program, said Karen Ford, associate professor of elementary education.

"Her students and colleagues have benefited from her dedication to quality distance education, innovative use of effective technologies for teaching and learning, and development of professional collaboration opportunities to increase program effectiveness," Ford said.

Tancock has been the driving force behind growing the MAE program's numbers and incorporating new technologies, all while maintaining the integrity of the classes.

In 2003, Tancock was the first faculty member in the Department of Elementary Education to develop and teach an online course. Since then, the department has transitioned to an exclusively online program. The department started with two online courses and now offers 20 courses. The MAE program has also increased from 65 students to 700 students.

Tancock has developed seven online courses and now teaches exclusively online. Her course structure is used as the template for most of the online courses that have been developed in the department. In the past year, she has instructed five different online course offerings.

"She continually strives to make her courses rigorous, yet enjoyable and meaningful for the students," Ford said. "Dr. Tancock is a model for teachers and faculty in her use of emerging technologies as instructional tools for engaging students in highly interactive learning activities."

She was the department's first Technology Fellow, in which she served as a resource for faculty as they developed their online courses. Tancock now serves as the coordinator of online learning where she further assists in the management and evaluation of online teaching. In this capacity, she organizes monthly Learning to Teach Online (LTTO) meetings for the department faculty and makes the information accessible to all by incorporating summaries and resources on a department blog.

Tancock has standardized the departmental procedure for the initial development of online courses in an effort to maintain quality in online course offerings.

She has also engaged in research projects targeting best practice in online teaching. Tancock has been an advocate of the department's online program by attending and presenting at a variety of national conferences, including the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching & Learning. She has also provided leadership for the annual Ball State Distance Learning conference, both as a conference organizer and presenter.

"I consider her to be an expert with authentic knowledge paired with a desire for continual growth. She is always in the forefront of technology issues," Ford said.

The award was named after Joseph Rawlings, dean emeritus of the School of Extended Education. Rawlings worked nearly 20 years to create and develop the university's distance learning program.

By Chanel Richards

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