Today we launch our first term of 2012 here at Boston University Online — beginning a year in which we’ll celebrate our 10th anniversary, and hopefully continue to build on our reputation as one of the nation’s leaders in distance education. Before we move forward to a entirely new annum, however, we thought we’d take a moment to look back at the year that was … and so without further ado (or David Letterman to read the list), here are the Metropolitan College Office of Distance Education’s Top 10 Achievements of 2011:
10: The Introduction of Our Own YouTube Channel
Past, present, and prospective students now have a central place where they learn more about the BU Online experience, via the voices of those who have been through it. Subscribers to our YouTube channel can hear from recent graduates, get a perspective on the life of the people in our programs, and even be saluted with a toast from our staff. As the videos say themselves, it’s a great way to stay connected.
9: The Prolific Production of Our Media Department
The YouTube Channel shows only a small portion of the work produced by our media team, led by Rob Haley and Charles Southworth. Over the course of the year, they shot and produced about 1,000 videos for use in our virtual classrooms and for promotional purposes — some of them filmed at our own in-house studio, and others recorded in the field. On top of that original work, the team also captioned more than 500 videos, making them more accessible for the hearing impaired.
8: BU Online Continues To Grow
Each year our office continues to grow and expand, and 2011 was no different. We made several additions to our staff over the course of the just-completed calendar, beginning when Andrew Hinkell was hired as our administrative coordinator in April, at the same time Anna Jensen-Clem made the full-time transition to a newly created student services coordinator position. Laura Hannon and Katie Bergeron also came aboard as student services coordinators, while Jennifer Livengood also joined us as the newest addition to our expanding instructional design staff.
7: Brad Kay Goodman and Jim Frey Earn Exemplary Course Awards
Senior Instructional Designers Brad Kay Goodman and Jim Frey were both recognized by Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program, which presents its honors with “the goal of identifying and disseminating best practices for designing engaging online courses.” Brad worked with CIS instructor Bob Schudy to produce the award-winning Enterprise Architecture course (click here for a tour of that class), while Jim teamed with Judith Simpson in building a course titled Contemporary Issues In Art Education (click here for a tour). With two honorees, BU joined Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University as the only universities to be recognized for having more than one exemplary course in 2011.
6: E-reserves Are Better Utilized, Helping Students Save Money
Beginning with our first spring semester, 2011 saw a rise in BU Online’s use of the e-reserve opportunities offered by Mugar Library. Now, instead of needing to purchase an entire book for the purpose of reading only one or two chapters, students can access the necessary portion electronically — and for free.
5: Rob Haley wins Chadwick Fellowship
Senior Media Producer Rob Haley was one of two recipients of the inaugural Chadwick Fellowship, a grant given annually to one faculty and one staff member of Metropolitan College for the purpose of professional development. Rob won the Fellowship based on his plan to chronicle a day in the life of a BU Online student, and already he’s produced one video and done the filming for a second. In the first, which you can see below, he goes to Scranton, Penn., to give us a glimpse into the life of CIS Masters Candidate Giovanni Sealey, an IT Instructor at a two-year Technical and Business College.
4: Our Social Media Efforts Surpass 2,000 Combined Followers
The most publicly visible of our efforts to build an online community, our Facebook page and Twitter accounts continued to bring more and more people together in 2011, cruising past 1,000 fans and followers in grand fashion. As of Spring 01 launch, @BUOnline was being followed by 317 people on Twitter, and 908 people had liked the ODE page on Facebook. We have 750 members in our LinkedIn group, and are steaming toward the next thousand in our social media endeavors.
3: Two New Programs are Born
A year ago at this time, we launched the initial course of our online Law program in collaboration with the school that has the nation’s No. 1-ranked law faculty, and in September we introduced a master of Social Work program in a partnership with BU’s School of Social Work. Continuing to diversify and expand our offerings, both programs were welcome and well-received additions, and we look forward to seeing them flourish in the years to come.
2: We Begin the Transition to a New Learning Management System
Beginning with the Social Work program, and expanding to Law, Music, and Art Education this spring, we are moving our courses from Blackboard Vista to Blackboard 9.1 — which our students will come to know as BU’s OnlineCampus. The transition will be gradual, with new programs moving each term, but in the end all of our students will experience a more advanced, interactive learning management system, the potential of which our design team is constantly working to maximize.
1: BU Online wins the USDLA 21st Century Best Practices Award
In March we learned that BU had been honored with the United States Distance Learning Association’s Best Practices Award, which, in conjunction with the Sloan Award bestowed upon us the previous fall, meant that within a single year we had won two of the nation’s highest awards for distance education. According to its description, the Best Practices Award “is given to an agency, institution, or company that has shown outstanding leadership in the field of distance learning. The award recognizes pioneering organizations in the field that have changed distance learning, as well as new organizations that have challenged existing practice by developing new and innovative solutions for distance learning instruction and employee distance learning training programs.”
That’s the standard we set for ourselves in 2011. And now it’s time to try and be even better in 2012. Happy New Year!