The planning committee for Syracuse University’s 37th Annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration is seeking nominations for the Unsung Hero Awards. The Unsung Hero Award nominations are due on Wednesday, Dec. 15, at 11:59 p.m. Nomination forms can…
University Receives National Award for Training Central New York Teachers in Virtual Learning Environment Best Practices
Syracuse University received the 2021 Engagement Award for the Mid-Atlantic Region that was presented by the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA) during its recent annual Regions Week National Conference.
The award recognizes the K-12 teacher engagement and development that occurred through an innovative community partnership established pro-actively by the College of Professional Studies to address challenges that ensued during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Beginning in spring 2020, as education shifted from in-person to virtual instruction, one of the biggest hurdles teachers faced was keeping students engaged. In August 2020, the College partnered with Blackboard to offer K-12 educators the opportunity to sharpen their skills and learn new strategies to teach students in a virtual environment.
The course, “Blended Learning and Online Strategies for K-12,” provided teachers with tactics for designing courses for the online classroom. Nearly 300 teachers in the Syracuse City School District participated in the online course free of charge.
“As Syracuse University’s academic unit focused entirely on developing rigorous and differentiated online teaching and learning courses, the College of Professional Studies is uniquely poised to support regional school districts,” says Dean Michael Frasciello. “Partnering with Blackboard to seamlessly extend its training courses to teachers and educators is another example of the College’s dedication to the region and our commitment to serving as the gateway to Syracuse University for continuing and professional studies.”
The UPCEA Engagement Award represents the College’s teamwork and quick response in meeting a community need. Lyndy MacLaughlin, digital communications manager for the Center for Online and Digital Learning, identified the challenge teachers were facing as she dealt with the learning situations of her children. She contacted Blackboard, which had just coincidentally completed the development of the K-12 course, and secured its participation. Executive Director of Post Traditional Advancement Jeffry Comanici reached out to local funding sources to gain support for the project.
Local school districts were contacted, with the Syracuse City School District demonstrating the greatest need. In addition to the benefits of the course itself, continuing education units were awarded to all who completed the course. From idea to inception, the project took a mere month to become reality.
According to UPCEA, which comprises five regions across the U.S., the Engagement Award recognizes an outstanding knowledge partnership between a member institution and one or more external constituents, such as local communities, corporations, government organizations or associations. The recognized partnership demonstrates a mutually beneficial exchange of knowledge and resources that has resulted in a measurable and sustainable shared impact.
The Central New York Community Foundation and the Allyn Foundation of Central New York provided funding that allowed teachers from the Syracuse City School District to participate in the program. In addition, Blackboard and the College of Professional Studies matched the registration fee dollar-for-dollar to offer the course free of charge to K-12 local teachers.
Syracuse University has a longstanding partnership with Blackboard to provide a virtual learning environment that is accessible and relevant to students across the globe. Additional private donations have made it possible to expand the course offering to teachers throughout the Central New York region.