Illinois Earns Highest Honors from UPCEA

by Karen Bollinger | 03/07/2016

The University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), which recognizes excellence in both individual and institutional achievements, has awarded two awards to the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign. 

Nominated by the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning, this year’s recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award is Aric Rindfleisch, PhD, of the College of Business. The Excellence in Teaching Award is presented to individuals who have provided outstanding teaching, course development, mentoring of students and service to online and continuing education.

While having no previous experience with instructing a massive open online course, Dr. Rindfleisch successfully launched the course “Marketing in a Digital World,” which examines the impact of digitization on the marketing environment and introduces learners to new developments and ideas that can readily be put into practice. 

Since January, more than 90,000 learners from nearly 200 countries have enrolled, making the course among the top 1 percent of Coursera offerings and earning some of the highest ratings from influential business and education websites. Also, the Digital Marketing Specialization certificate, which includes Dr. Rindfleish’s course, was ranked among the “Top 10 Most Coveted Certificates of 2015,” beating out certification programs from several elite institutions. 

“Marketing in a Digital World” serves as the kick-off course for the Digital Marketing Specialization that serves as one of the Specializations towards the College of Business’ new iMBA program. Raj Echambadi, Senior Associate Dean at the College of Business, pointed to the reason behind Aric’s success. “Aric developed a signature course based on his own pioneering research. More importantly, he used technology tools adeptly to communicate the relevance of his course, thereby making it accessible to anyone around the world.”

UPCEA’s Leadership in Diversity Award was awarded to the Information Accessibility Design and Policy (IADP) professional certificate program in the College of Applied Health Sciences (AHS) at Illinois.  IADP is the first and only university-based, for-credit program in the nation teaching the principles of universal design and accessibility architecture to ensure that people with disabilities can access critical digital resources.

Under the direction of Dr. Reginald Alston, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in AHS, the online certificate was designed by leading experts in functional and digital information accessibility: Dr. Marc Thompson, Mr. Tim Offenstein, Mr. Keith Hays, Mr. Hadi Rangin, and Dr. Jon Gunderson. 

“As technology continues to advance and more of the world moves to a digital format in educational, governmental, employment, and commercial settings, it is critical that everyone can participate” said Dr. Alston.  He added that “the IADP program was designed to educate and train a full spectrum of learners, including programmers, designers, IT specialists, web developers, educators, and compliance officers  – anyone responsible for delivering accessible content in a digital format.”

The program has caught the attention of accessibility industry experts, top government agencies, and corporations.  “Based on knowledge shared and impact of reach, IADP has the potential to improve the lives of thousands of people around the globe with visual impairments as well as physical and cognitive conditions,” said Dr. Alston.

In collaboration with the Division of Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES), the College of Applied Health Sciences continues to pioneer efforts to foster the full inclusion of people with disabilities in all aspects of society.  IADP continues this legacy of inclusion by offering an online certificate program that sets the standard for findable, useable and accessible digital content.