Stephen and Sue Zemba Excellence in Online Teaching Award

We believe Marshall’s greatest asset is its people. This new accolade specifically acknowledges faculty members who demonstrate exceptional skill and commitment to delivering an engaging, transformative student experience in the virtual realm.  The award will encompass one of three focus areas for each nominee: digital innovation, learner engagement, or impactful assessment. Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to nominate educators who exhibit the following qualities: 

  • High standards for humanistic course design and delivery, showing evidence consistent with Marshall Online’s HOME Framework – transparency, motivation, belonging. 
  • Evidence of intervention efforts – such as using LMS analytics to track struggling students or advocating support services.
  • Innovation in online course development and delivery, with tangible examples of active learning. 
  • Meaningful engagement with online students, showing evidence of Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI). 
  • Sharing knowledge with the academic community; advancing research opportunities and/or contributing to a Community of Practice in online education.  


  • Faculty members teaching distance education courses: including tenured, tenure-track, and full-time term faculty are eligible. Self-nominations are allowed and encouraged.  
  • The nominee must have taught at least one online course in the past academic year.  


  • Nominations accepted June 1st – Sep. 15th.
  • Nominees will be notified in September.  
Submit Nomination

Submission Procedures:  

Nominees who choose to accept the nomination will submit the following components: 

  1. A recent syllabus reflective of best practices in online teaching and learning. 
  2. Brief Teaching Practice Reflection  – Guided Prompt provided. (300 words).
  3. Focus Area Video: a collection of at least 3-5 course artifacts demonstrating excellence in one of the three focus areas of digital innovation, learner engagement, impactful assessment.  (3-5 minute video).

Focus Area suggestions for consideration in video Submission:  

When making nominations, students and faculty/peers provide reasons for their nominations, detailing how the learning experience enhances academic development, the role of instructional technologies, and instances where the instructor has surpassed expectations. In this way, nominees receive guidance on the focus area their nomination might align best with, aiding them in preparing their artifacts.

Digital Innovation:

  • Use of Multimedia Tools: Assessment of how effectively multimedia tools such as videos, animations, interactive simulations, and audio recordings are integrated into the course content to enhance learning experiences. 
  • Innovative Content Delivery: Evaluation of creative approaches to delivering course content using digital platforms, such as the use of virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), or gamification techniques. 
  • Evidence of Impact: Examination of evidence demonstrating the impact of digital and multimedia innovation on student learning outcomes, engagement levels, and overall course satisfaction. 
  • Overcoming Barriers: Present examples of innovative approaches to overcoming barriers to engagement in the online context, such as addressing digital distractions or promoting self-regulated learning. 

Learner Engagement:

  • Engagement and Interaction: Assessment of the level of student engagement and interaction facilitated by multimedia elements, including discussion forums, multimedia presentations, and interactive activities. 
  • Accessibility and Inclusivity: Evaluation of the course design for accessibility features, such as closed captioning, transcripts, alternative text for images, and compatibility with assistive technologies to ensure inclusivity for all learners. 
  • Continuous Improvement: Evaluation of the instructor’s commitment to continuous improvement through feedback mechanisms, data-driven decision-making, and ongoing refinement of digital and multimedia elements based on student feedback and assessment results. 
  • Instructor Presence and Support: Assessment of the instructor’s availability, communication, and support provided to students in navigating digital tools, accessing multimedia content, and engaging with course materials.

Impactful Assessment:

  • Innovative Assessment Methods: Description of the use of multimedia for assessment methods, such as multimedia projects, e-portfolios, peer-reviewed multimedia presentations, or multimedia quizzes. Consider authentic assessment and assessment variety as well.  
  • Adaptability and Flexibility: Assessment of the course’s ability to facilitate intrinsic motivation and relevance for adult learners. 
  • Feedback and Reflection: Examination of the instructor’s use of feedback and reflection to iteratively improve digital and multimedia elements, based on student experiences and outcomes. 
  • Integration with Learning Objectives: Assessment of how effectively digital and multimedia innovations align with and support the course’s learning objectives, ensuring that they contribute meaningfully to student learning outcomes. 
  • Thematic Considerations: Description of how the course content problematizes a significant cultural consideration surrounding ethics or literacy in the digital age.  
  • Equity and Inclusion: Evidence of assessment strategies that promote equity and inclusivity, addressing the diverse needs and backgrounds of learners in the online environment. 
  • Agency and Motivation: Showcase opportunities for self-assessment and reflection, empowering learners to take ownership of their learning journey. 
Nominees Submit Components


  • Two recipients will be announced at the end of October. Each will receive an award of $1000.
  • The recipients of the Online Teaching Excellence award will be invited to the reception during Distance Education Week November 4-8, where the award will be presented, and the faculty member’s best practices will be showcased.  

Additional Notes:

Reviewers will include the Instructional Design Team, Faculty Liaisons, and faculty drawn from the Ultra Advisory Committee. 

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