Online Teaching Excellence Award

The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning is pleased to announce the Online Teaching Excellence Award (OTEA), sponsored by Digital Learning, which will be awarded for the first time in spring 2018. The OTEA is both institutional recognition and a monetary acknowledgement of the significant work that Mason faculty members devote to innovative online course planning and teaching. The Stearns Center encourages Mason students, faculty members, and administrators to take this opportunity to recognize online teaching excellence by nominating a faculty member for this special honor!

Nominations will be accepted through Wednesday, December 6, 2017.

Send Nomination Letters to: Digital Learning, The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning at

Nomination Process

The OTEA is open to all instructional faculty at Mason (adjuncts, term, tenure-track, and tenured faculty) who have taught at least one fully online course during the past academic year (Fall 2016 – Summer 2017), and who also have at least 4 semesters of teaching fully online courses at Mason. The semesters of online teaching do not need to be consecutive, and faculty also do not need to teach exclusively online to be eligible for the OTEA.

Past winners of teaching awards (Center for Teaching and Faculty Excellence) or faculty or online course awards (Office of Digital Learning) may be nominated and considered for the OTEA so long as they meet eligibility requirements.

Nominations should be in the form of a 2-3 paragraph support letter that briefly addresses how the faculty member meets the criteria for online teaching excellence. Please indicate the following criteria in which your nominee demonstrates the strongest evidence for online teaching excellence, and describe the specific evidence in your letter.

  1. Growth and development as an online educator
  2. Online student and learner engagement
  3. Assessment of online student learning and achievement
  4. Online teaching effectiveness and impact

This table provides possible examples of evidence for online teaching excellence.

Timeline for the 2018 Online Teaching Excellence Award

  1. Nominations will be accepted through Wednesday, December 6, 2017.
  2. Eligible nominees will be invited to next stage of the selection process by Wednesday, December 21, 2017.
  3. Eligible nominees may participate in an optional Teaching Portfolio workshop or webinar in mid-January 2018.
  4. Eligible nominees will provide a teaching portfolio by Friday, February 9, 2018.
  5. The Online Teaching Excellence Award winner will be selected & announced by the end of March 2018.
  6. A ceremony to honor the 2018 Teaching Excellence Award winners, including the Online Teaching Excellence Award winner, will be held in April 2018.


If you have questions or would like further information, please contact Dr. Darlene Smucny, Assistant Director for Digital Learning, at or 703-993-1907

Digital Learning Staff Award

The Digital Learning Award is part of the annual Human Resources (HR) Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony. Funded by Digital Learning, The Stearns Center for Teaching & Learning award is given to an administrator or staff member whose efforts support quality in online education at Mason.  The winner will receive a $500 stipend and a certificate presented by the President at the annual HR awards ceremony.

The deadline for nominations is Monday, October 16, 2017.

Award Criteria

      • Nominee must be administrative faculty, professional faculty, classified or wage staff who has at least one year of continuous service at George Mason University, and who has demonstrated strong support and commitment for digital learning at George Mason University.
      • Nominees should have regular responsibilities supporting digital learning , e.g., serving to champion, improve, and/or enhance online education at Mason, whether at course, departmental, program, college/school and/or university level.
      • A Mason employee may only receive this award once every two years.

We encourage you to nominate:

      • Administrators & staff members whose leadership and commitment have advanced and supported digital learning at Mason.
      • Administrators and staff members who have championed digital learning at the course, department, program, college/school and/or university level at Mason.
      • Administrator and staff members who have actively partnered with the Stearns Center (previously the Office of Distance Education and the Office of Digital Learning), to develop and/or support quality online courses and programs at Mason.

This award is open to all Mason administrators and staff.

Please note that instructional faculty are not eligible for this award; please consider nominating instructional faculty for the Teaching Excellence Awards, sponsored by The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning. Employees of The Stearns Center for Teaching and Learning also are not eligible for this award.

Nominations for The Digital Learning Award will be reviewed by a selection committee. For more information on the Digital Learning Award or any questions, please contact Darlene Smucny at

Click here to download the Nomination Form.

Send completed nomination forms to by close of business Monday, October 16, 2017.

Previous Winners

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