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WGU Recognized with Two Distance Learning Awards from USDLA

University earns ninth 21st Century Distance Learning Award, and Take a Break Program receives Nonprofit Innovation Award

May 23, 2019

NASHVILLE – For the ninth time, the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) has honored Western Governors University (WGU) with a 21st Century Distance Learning Award for its leadership in distance education. The award was presented May 22 at USDLA’s 2019 National Conference in Nashville. In addition, the university’s new Take a Break program received the organization’s Non-Profit Innovation Award for its unique ability to combine a high level of student service with assessment security and integrity.

These prestigious International Awards are presented annually to organizations and individuals engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs. They were created to acknowledge major accomplishments in distance learning and to highlight those distance learning instructors, programs, and professionals who have achieved and demonstrated extraordinary results through the use of online, videoconferencing, satellite and blended learning delivery technologies.

“As a premier organization for the entire distance learning profession, we are honoring Western Governors University as a leader in the industry,” said Dr. Reggie Smith III, Executive Director of USDLA. “WGU has raised the bar of excellence, and we are truly honored by WGU’s contributions within all distance learning constituencies.”

WGU has won the 21st Century Distance Learning Award nine times, and USDLA has previously recognized four WGU leaders with awards as well. This year’s Non-Profit Innovation Award adds to the university’s slate of USDLA recognitions. Take a Break was designed to give students taking secure, proctored assessments online from their home or other sites the option to take one 10-minute break per assessment hour, without compromising security. When a student needs to pause their exam, they click a button that alerts the proctor. The student then agrees to a series of conditions for the break and a timer begins. The exam screen is greyed out and blocks any access to the exam during the break. In addition, when a student returns, any questions that have been previously viewed or answered are inaccessible. All other questions remain open and can be completed.

Take a Break is one of a number of innovations WGU has implemented that combines the university’s obsession with students’ experience, their success, and the quality and integrity of their education. 

“This year’s USDLA Award recipient WGU represents the finest examples of online courses, best practices, and leadership in our field. The depth and breadth of the USDLA membership allows us to engage with leaders from higher education, K–12, industry, military, and government who daily demonstrate the power of distance learning. We are so very proud and excited to be able to recognize this level of excellence,” said Janet Major, President of USDLA.

Pat Cassella, Chair of USDLA Board of Directors, said, “This year’s award winners represent many of the most innovative leaders in the field of distance learning.”


The United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA) is a 501(c) 3 non-profit association formed in 1987 and is located in Boston, Massachusetts. The association reaches 20,000 people globally with sponsors and members operating in and influencing 46% of the $913 billion-dollar U.S. education and training market. USDLA promotes the development and application of distance learning for education and training and serves the needs of the distance learning community by providing advocacy, information, networking and opportunity. Distance learning and training constituencies served include pre-K–12 education, higher and continuing education, home schooling as well as business, corporate, military, government and telehealth markets. The USDLA trademarked logo is the recognized worldwide symbol of dedicated professionals committed to the distance learning industry.

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