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USDLA Honors WGU with Two Distance Learning Awards

Online, nonprofit university earns 21st Century Distance Learning award for ninth time

May 23, 2019

 KENT – Western Governors University (WGU) received the 21st Century Distance Learning Award from the United States Distance Learning Association (USDLA). The award was presented May 22 at USDLA’s 2019 National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee and marks the ninth time WGU has been honored in that way.

Additionally, the USDLA recognized the university’s new Take a Break program with the Non-Profit Innovation Award. That honor acknowledges the program’s unique ability to combine a high level of student service with assessment security and integrity.

Both of those prestigious 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 using 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 Washington is the locally based affiliate of WGU and is the only legislatively endorsed online university in Washington state. WGU Washington students access the same degree programs and enjoy the same, acclaimed learning experience as all WGU students. 

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.

“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.

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 several innovations WGU has implemented that combines the university’s obsession with students’ experience, their success, and the quality and integrity of their education. 

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.”

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