This blog post written by:
USDLA Chair Emerita
It’s hard to change the world. People spout platitudes about being world-changers, reaching to be a landscaper of thoughts, ideas, and practices. Leaders strive to be part of a system that makes such a difference to the people within it. One of the most impactful practices that has truly changed the world is distance education. A leader in the pack from within distance education, Western Governor’s University once again has set itself apart as a winner of the 2017 USDLA 21st Century Learning Award.
When I first worked to open Florida Virtual School and now launching ASU Prep Digital, I learned that the landscape of distance education evolves very quickly: thought leaders emerge, soar high, and then welcome other leaders into the space. It’s the rare school that remains constantly at the forefront of innovative learning practices because ideas wane, new thoughts rise to the top, and it becomes another’s time to shine. However, year over year, WGU has proven that its mission-driven approach to competency-based education remains the leader for all those who come after. And this year, WGU has once again been honored for their breakthrough practices in distance education.
Western Governor’s University had a good idea—it wanted to take high quality education and ensure that everyone, regardless of geography or resources, had access to education to meet the demands of employers and industries across the nation. To put it simply, WGU took that good idea and made it more than an idea: they made WGU a household name. They did this with a combination of some great ideas, hard work, and absolute faithfulness to their mission to expand access to higher education for all.
All innovators have to face the hard choice between mission fidelity and mission drift—remaining and improving upon a good idea, or iterating far away from center. WGU has navigated its evolution through the last 20 years with poise and devotion to helping adults meet their goals—educationally and in their careers.
Nelson Mandela wrote, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Western Governor’s University started with a mission to change the world. And so they did.
In Photo: Dr. Allison Barber, Chancellor of WGU Indiana and Dr. Fred Hurst, WGU’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement, and John Flores, PH.D., C.E.O/Executive Director USDLA
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Learn more about the USDLA and how you too can be a member. The association supports all core markets including Enterprise, Government, Telemedicine, Education and others.
Our Association is unique, not only for its historical commitment to distance learning, but also for engaging with a broad spectrum of distance learning professionals – K-12, higher education, corporate, government, military, telehealth, and home schooling. While more narrowly focused organizations have an important role, a powerful perspective emerges when bright minds serving diverse constituencies come together.
The USDLA was formed in 1987. At that time, companies like Yahoo and Google were still years away. “Power users” were boasting of their Intel 386 processors. In that context, DL was a concept well outside the educational mainstream. Granted, a few people knew something of the process but hands-on DL experience was rare. USDLA, then, provided a means for these pioneers to find one another.
Today, with more than one-third of college students taking an online class, it’s a far different world but USDLA remains a vital player. Our members continue to seek out other DL professionals. These practitioners still want to grow and want to offer students a strong education in a robust community of learning. Today’s USDLA stands out as a remarkable resource for teachers and administrators who want to enhance the learning experience.