The Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C), an association of more than 1,000 institutions and organizations of higher education engaged in online learning, has named the Web-Based Information Science Education (WISE) consortium a winner of its 2006 Effective Practice Award. Founded in 2004 by Syracuse University's School of Information Studies and the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (GSLIS), WISE offers unique distance education courses to students at its 12 member schools. Students have the ability to select from an extensive list of online courses, regardless of their location, and take courses with faculty who are highly regarded in their area of expertise.
This award is significant to the program because it highlights the quality practices of the WISE consortium, says Craig Tucker, WISE coordinator at the School of Information Studies. WISE has set a standard that can serve as a benchmark for institutions looking to develop online education programs as well as for the development of other quality online education projects.
WISE (wiseeducation.org) has reached a total of 198 students through 133 courses in the past two years, and works continuously to increase the quality, access, and diversity of online education opportunities in library and information science. WISE was the right thing to do and the right time to do it, says Bruce Kingma, associate dean and professor at the School of Information Studies and co-founder of WISE. Having the library and information science programs working collaboratively on this initiative has resulted in numerous benefits to our programs and our students. It is nice to get this national award to acknowledge our success.
Additionally, WISE+, supported by the Institute of Museum and Library Services, has expanded the resources of the consortium to include 17 library association partners. It also provides pedagogical training for faculty, and is supporting the creation of a digital learning repository for WISE courses. The WISE consortium has benefited the participating institutions in multiple ways, says Linda C. Smith, co-founder of WISE and the associate dean and professor at GSLIS. Students have access to a wider variety of courses, faculty can offer courses in special areas of expertise, and program administrators can collaboratively develop best practices in online education for library and information science.
Online learning has greatly progressed since 1992 when the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation began giving grants to institutions for online learning initiatives. The field of online education continues to show vigor and strength, says Frank Mayadas, president of Sloan-C. Every year we see advances in the important matters of quality, scale, and breadth within this still fledgling community. The individuals and institutions honored this year are recognized for showing exceptional leadership in advancing online education along these dimensions.
Sloan-C will present the award to WISE during the 12th Annual Sloan-C International Conference on Online Learning: The Power of Online Learning, Realizing the Vision in Orlando on November 8, 2006.