Professors awarded for educational research

Michelle Bender

Two Kent State professors have won awards from an international group that’s committed to “quality online education.”

Karen Swan, professor for Kent State’s Research Center for Educational Technology, won The Sloan Consortium’s award for “Most Outstanding Achievement in Online Learning by an Individual” and Albert Ingram, associate professor, won the “Effective Practices Award” for combining effective individualized and group instruction.

Sloan-C is an international organization started by Alfred P. Sloan that strives to improve online courses through the sharing of ideas and effective practices. Its mission is to make education available and affordable to anyone at any time.

Swan said the award came out of the blue, and she is humbled and touched.

“I received really wonderful letters of support,” Swan said. “Just getting the letters from my colleagues, peers and friends was the best part.”

Swan researches the assessment of learning online. She said the way the teachers assess students changes students’ behaviors and discussions. If students are graded on the quality of posts instead of the number, they learn more and do better in the class.

Swan was nominated for her award by Starr Roxanne Hiltz, distinguished professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. Hiltz is on the panel of judges that selects the recipients of the Sloan-C Awards.

Ingram created a design for an online course using known learning theories. Ingram combined the theories of personalized system of instruction and problem-based learning.

Personalized system of instruction emphasizes self-pacing, mastery and classroom activities as motivation, stresses the written word and uses proctors. Problem-based learning emphasizes group-based discussions of problems to find hypotheses and come to a consensus while supporting everyone’s learning.

Ingram said these theories had never been put together in such a way. Kent State is using Ingram’s course design in an online graduate course in Educational Psychology.

Ingram said Swan recommended putting his research in Sloan-C’s Wikipedia article, and that’s how he won his award.

The Sloan-C Excellence awards are chosen by a panel of college and university presidents and other highly regarded educators. A panel of expert practitioners in the field of online learning and nominations by the Sloan-C Effective Practice Editors chooses the Effective Practice awards.

Ingram and Swan will receive their awards Nov. 8 at a meeting in Orlando.

Contact undergraduate offices and graduate affairs reporter Michelle Bender at [email protected].