April 28, 2014

Oaks Wins Innovation Award

Award is named for Empire State College's Founding President

Susan Oaks headshot

Faculty Mentor Susan Oaks was the recipient of the James W. and Mary Elizabeth Hall Award for Innovation at Empire State College. Photo provided.

(SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - June 26, 2014) Susan Oaks, of Saratoga Springs, area coordinator in the humanities for Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning, was recognized with the James William and Mary Elizabeth Hall Award for Innovation at an All College conference in March.

Oaks was lauded for her creativity as the college transitioned to two new platforms for its online courses, Moodle and Mahara, for educational planning.Center for Distance Leaning Dean Tom Mackey praised her work in her varying roles at the college from mentor of English and writing to area coordinator in the humanities. “Dr. Susan Oaks has been continuing her role as an innovator at the college by reimaging what educational planning looks like in the new Moodle environment, as well as how e-portfolios will serve our students as an individualized and collaborative space for the degree-planning process,” Mackey said.

Her colleagues praised her for her leadership and collaborative spirit as the college’s online program explored innovative learner-centered technologies such as ePortfolios.

“Her patience and determination are outstanding. Susan is definitely an early adopter, willing to try out a new package while realizing that one’s initial efforts may not survive,” said Betty Hurley-Dasgupta, a faculty mentor with the center.

“Empire State College fosters and truly supports the idea of students having a voice in their education,” Oaks said, thanking her colleagues for their support.

Oaks introduced more humanizing and multimedia approaches to walk students through the required educational planning process, using avatars called Ed Planning and Eve Portfolio, according to Mackey.

She integrated the use of animated videos (including interviews with students who have successfully completed their degrees), visual representations of a student’s planning journey and text.

 All students at Empire State College are required to take educational planning as a first step in planning their degree programs.

About the James William and Mary Elizabeth Hall Award for Innovation

Established in 2008, The James William and Mary Elizabeth Hall Award for Innovation is given periodically to a college employee who creates, or puts into effect, an innovation that advances Empire State College’s mission and thereby benefits the students it serves. The Award is named for the college’s first and longest-serving president, James W. Hall, and his wife, Mary Elizabeth, and is made possible by an endowment established by the Halls through the college’s foundation. Hall served as Empire State College’s president from its founding in 1971 until 1997. It comes with a citation and a cash prize.

About SUNY Empire State College

Empire State College, the nontraditional, open college of the SUNY system, educates more than 20,000 students worldwide at eight international sites, more than 35 locations in the state of New York, online, as well as face to face and through a blend of both, at the associate, bachelor’s and master’s levels.

The average age of an undergraduate student at the college is 35 and graduate students average age 40.

Most Empire State College students are working adults. Many are raising families and meeting civic commitments in the communities where they live, while studying part time.

In addition to awarding credit for prior college-level learning, the college pairs each undergraduate student with a faculty mentor who supports that student throughout his or her college career.

Working with their mentors, students design an individual degree program and engage in guided independent study and course work onsite, online or through a combination of both, which provides the flexibility for students to choose where, when and how to learn.

Students have the opportunity to enroll five times during the year.

The college’s 70,000 alumni are active in their communities as entrepreneurs, politicians, business professionals, artists, nonprofit agency employees, teachers, veterans and active military, union members and more.

The college was first established in 1971 by the Board of Trustees with the encouragement of the late Ernest L. Boyer, chancellor of the SUNY System from 1970 to 1977.

Boyer also served as United States commissioner of education during the administration of President Jimmy Carter and then as president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.


More information about the college is available at www.esc.edu.




Media contact: David Henahan, director of communications

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