January 12, 2000 | By: Aimee D. Heald

The American Distance Education Consortium is honoring The University of Kentucky College of Agriculture's Distance Learning program as the first recipient of the Excellence in College and University Distance Education National Award. The award comes with a $5000 check and will be presented in March at the annual Council for Agricultural Research, Extension and Teaching meeting in Washington D.C.

The award does not focus on one specific aspect of the Distance Learning unit, it recognizes the whole program, including programs from more than 10 years ago.

"We were excited that we won," Craig Wood, UK Extension distance learning coordinator, said. "It means we have nationally recognized programs in distance education that every one around the country deems as excellent. In our minds, based on receiving this, we think we're out there leading the way."

The nomination was submitted by a distance learning team consisting of Craig Wood, Carla Craycraft, Kim Ragland, Nathan Wilson, Scott Hayes, Lori Porter, as well as UK Media Design and Kentucky Educational Television.

Each program nominated was evaluated by ADEC's 15-member committee, in six key areas. The most important area was outcomes and impacts, which measured the worthiness and viability of the distance education programs that show excellence and success in teaching. Other areas in the award criteria were: innovation, methodology and creativity; professional development and service to distance education; philosophy of distance education; collaborations, partnerships and crossing barriers; and endorsement by administrators, distance learners/end users, colleagues and others.

"I really believe that receiving the first-ever awarded ADEC award for excellence in distance education is a tremendous honor for the College of Agriculture, the Cooperative Extension Service, the Distance Learning program and UK," Carla Craycraft, director of UK Agricultural Communications Services, said. "I think enthusiasm and interest in a lot of hard work and dedication by a team of individuals who've followed bigger dreams and ideas has really made the difference."

Craycraft emphasized the importance of on-going programs like the Gee-Whiz in Agriculture series that started back in the early 1990s. She said UK's success is a result of improving older programs and always looking to create new programs to benefit the University, Cooperative Extension, and the people of Kentucky. With technology growing so fast, UK can reach out to Kentucky, the U.S., and the world with online virtual classrooms, satellite programs, web sites, instructional videos, etc.

"One of our driving forces in distance learning is that we've used lots of technologies," Craycraft said. "No matter what technology we were using, the main thing we were concerned with was that we have good, sound educational programs and applications. That is what makes UK College of Agriculture Distance Learning programs successful."


Craig Wood 606-257-4736 ext. 254