UMass Lowell sweeps online ed award ceremony

01/16/2006
By From the Lowell Sun

By HILLARY CHABOT, Sun Staff

LOWELL -- The online education team at UMass Lowell swept a recent award ceremony held by the Sloan Consortium for its online teaching program.

UMass Lowell won three out of five awards handed out by the consortium, an association of more than 1,000 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning.

Jackie Maloney, dean of continuing education at UMass Lowell, said she was surprised by how well the public university did at the award ceremony last November.

"To receive the award is very prestigious," Maloney said. "We were competing with schools like University of Phoenix, and it was very amazing that we won it. We were the little engine that could, and we boot-strapped the education as a public university."

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began giving grants for online programs in 1992 and began giving out awards a few years later. UMass Lowell has 7,500 students taking online courses. One student is even going for a doctorate degree online, Maloney said.

The school received an award for excellence in faculty development for online teaching, excellence in online teaching and learning program throughout the institution, and excellence in online teaching for professor Joan Cannon.

"The first year, we had 400 students and four courses because we wanted to see if it worked," Maloney said. "Chancellor William Hogan let us do this early when there were a lot of doubts about whether this was the way to go."

The school plans to add more courses that blend online learning with teaching in the classroom, said Maloney.

"We'll be starting over the summer," she said. "We'll get those people left who feel like they have to trudge into class."