Miami Dade College

Virtual College

Alex Strzyzewski and Sarah Garman - image

Sarah Garman, faculty at North who also teaches in the Virtual College and Alex Strzyzewski Instructional Designer in the Virtual College redesigned the Humanities 1020 online course. They submitted the course to the United States Distance Learning Association and to Blackboard for review as part of awards competition, and they received awards from both entries.

In an effort to make humanities just as alive and engaging online as it is in the classroom, a Miami Dade College (MDC) faculty and staff gave the course an interactive redesign, which has not only won over students but also the prestigious United States Distance Learning Association's (USDLA) Award. The redesigned course recently won the Gold Award for the USDLA International Awards competition in the category for Best Practices for Excellence in Distance Learning Teaching. The course also won a Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Program from Blackboard, Inc.

Humanities 1020, a general education requirement, has been offered by MDC's Virtual College for more than a decade, with hundreds of students enrolling each semester. The redesign has enhanced the learning experience with exciting features, such as animated overviews, graphics, videos, music and other multimedia. The changes have also helped to encourage student participation in the arts and culture.

"We wanted the course to parallel with traditional humanities classes with all of the music and arts," said MDC North Campus Professor Sarah Garman, who teamed up on the redesign with MDC Instructional Designer Alexandre Strzyzewski. "Students were more engaged. I got a lot of positive feedback."

MDC's Virtual College, headquartered at the Wolfson Campus, offers an extensive catalog of degree programs and certificates.

The USDLA International Awards highlight distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved extraordinary results through the use of learning technology.The Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course Program also highlights technologically rich courses that showcase best practices for the user community.

"This year's USDLA Awards recipients represent the finest examples of online courses, best practices, and leadership in our field," said Dr. Rob Robinson, president of USDLA. "We are so very proud and excited to be able to recognize this level of excellence."

In addition, they received the following awards and recognitions: