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2009 R1edu Online Learning Award goes to University of Washington expert in computational linguistics

October 23, 2009

2009 winner announced

Emily Bender, Ph.D., an Assistant Professor at the University of Washington (UW), has received the 2009 R1edu Award for Distinguished Faculty Contributions to Online Learning. She is recognized for her groundbreaking work in development of the UW online master's degree program in Computational Linguistics. Through use of cutting edge web conferencing technology, students have the option of joining, live online, a classroom-based course held on campus.

Dr. Bender's use of web conferencing technology, employing live video and two-way audio, allows online students to participate in class in real time. Students can "raise their hand" and ask questions or engage in discussion.

"This approach opened the degree program to new audiences who are geographically remote from the classroom or who cannot otherwise attend afternoon courses on campus," said David Szatmary, UW Vice Provost for Educational Outreach. "It also allows increased flexibility for local students, who can choose to be present in the classroom one day and, depending on their work or travel schedule, attend online the next day."

"The online option for the UW master's program in Computational Linguistics is especially beneficial to me, because I would be unable to achieve such a degree locally," said one student. "With a family established in Oklahoma, it is less viable for me to relocate to complete a degree program not offered in my state. This program offers me exactly what I need, and precisely what I cannot obtain here."

A local UW student cited his daily option to attend class on campus or online as essential to successfully completing the program. "I attended class from home on multiple occasions while caring for my son while my wife was at work," he said. "Furthermore, the ability to go back and replay lectures that I attended either in class or from home was a tremendous advantage. I am convinced that I would not have fared as well in the course had these things not been available."

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About the R1edu consortium
Founded in 1999, R1edu is a consortium of more than 30 top U.S. research universities that pool their resources and knowledge to provide access to distance learning classes and reference materials. The consortium's website ( allows students to search classes and programs by subject, type or institution. Participating institutions are members of the Carnegie Foundation and of the prestigious Association of American Universities.

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About the R1edu Award
Past winners of the R1edu Award for Distinguished Faculty Contributions to Online Learning have come from the University of Florida, the University of Oregon, the University of Washington, Iowa State University and the University of Missouri–Columbia.

The criteria for the R1edu Award are as follows:

  1. A faculty or instructor must contribute significantly to online distance learning by either:
    • creating a new online distance learning program
    • leading a department into the distance learning arena
    • leading faculty toward a greater understanding and implementation of distance learning efforts
    • creating an innovative distance learning policy, procedure or infrastructure for the campus
  2. The faculty/instructor innovation must occur during the 12-month period, May–April, leading up to the current year's award application deadline
  3. The distance learning effort should contribute to the work of a research institution
  4. The distance learning innovation should be aligned with the leading technology

A call for nominations is issued by email to designated representatives of R1edu member universities in the spring. Contact Dave Szatmary, Vice Provost, University of Washington Educational Outreach.

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Past recipients of the R1edu Faculty Award

Dr. Akira Horita, University of Washington (UW) Professor of Pharmacology and Psychiatry, for effective integration of cutting-edge medical research into a highly interactive online certificate program, Advanced Research in Addiction and the Brain. Hallmarks include robust student discussion, interaction with online guest research scientists, and an invitation for feedback to continually enhance the program to meet audience needs.

Dr. Jan Miernowski, Department of French and Italian at University of Wisconsin at Madison, for creation of the course, French and Italian Renaissance Literature Online. Designed to simulate a journey through the region and its time led by a group of faculty guides, the course employs the latest interactive tools to train students in advanced interpretation of artistically complex and ideologically multilayered texts.

Dr. John Wedman, director of the School of Information Science and Learning Technologies in the College of Education at the University of Missouri-Columbia, for creating the university's first fast-track online master's program. The one-year online program in Educational Technology offers condensed courses in an 8-week format.

Dr. Craig Tapley, professor in the Warrington College of Business, for his pioneering role at the University of Florida. By restructuring course content and utilizing WebCT VISTA, he moved his class Web presence from "Web site as filing cabinet" to "Web site as virtual classroom," where context, community, and collaborative learning enhance the student experience.

2004 Linda Ettinger and Jane Maitland-Gholson, University of Oregon
Ettinger, academic director, and Maitland-Gholson, associate professor, developed the online Applied Information Management (AIM) master's degree program at UO. This degree combines knowledge in management, business and visual communication with an awareness of technology and its global context. They also developed several online courses including "Teaching in a Virtual Environment," a course to educate faculty in best practices for successful online teaching.

Mamidala Ramulu, University of Washington
Dr. Ramulu secured funding from the Boeing Company to design and implement an online, interdisciplinary master's degree in manufacturing engineering. The professor of mechanics, materials and design in the UW College of Engineering developed four online courses and helped create a new online, real-time Web conferencing system that serves as a main instructional tool for the program. This online tool has wide applications for other types of programs and content areas.

Douglas D. Gemmill, Iowa State University

Dr. Gemmill, associate professor of industrial and manufacturing systems engineering, created and developed the Systems Engineering Graduate Program at ISU. His achievement led to the development of other online offerings at the ISU College of Engineering.

Joe Mahoney, University of Washington
Dr. Mahoney, a professor with the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, developed a new model for a distance learning program in Construction Engineering. The program, the first of its kind in the nation, allows engineers to pursue one of three certificates or to combine them toward a master's degree.

Stephen Muench, University of Washington
Muench, a graduate student in engineering, is co-developer (with Dr. Mahoney) of the Pavement Construction online course for the online Construction Engineering program, and is involved in the planning and instruction of future courses for that program.

David Notkin, University of Washington

Notkin helped secure two major federal grants to develop online programs at the UW. He was the co-principal investigator for a $1.4 million grant from the Learning Anywhere Anytime Partnership at the U.S. Department of Education. That grant has developed four online certificate programs for Internet professionals in partnership with Prentice-Hall/Pearson, the Public Broadcasting Corporation and the World Organization of Webmasters. He also helped secure a $1.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to develop an online Bachelor of Science in Computing and Software Systems.

Ed Lazowska, University of Washington

Lazowska was instrumental in helping to create the UW Computer Science & Engineering Professional Master's Program, an evening/distance program for fully employed professionals utilizing Internet conference technology. He is also cited for his role in the Tutored Digital Video Instruction program for making UW introductory computer science courses available to community and technical colleges across Washington State.

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About University of Washington (UW) Educational Outreach

UW Educational Outreach is the continuing and professional education division of the University of Washington, the nationally recognized public research institution based in Seattle. Helping the schools, colleges, and departments to administer evening master's degrees, certificate programs, distance and online learning, international outreach and English language programs, and more, UWEO is one of the largest and most highly regarded continuing and professional education programs in the U.S. (more information at UW Educational Outreach also coordinates R1edu, a consortium of top U.S. research universities that pool their resources and knowledge to provide access to distance learning classes and reference materials (more information at

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