Awards Criteria

The National University Technology Network (NUTN) provides networking and professional development opportunities for innovative leaders in the advancement of teaching and learning. Given the extraordinary challenges and opportunities for higher education in dynamically changing environments, NUTN focuses on the key elements of Learning/Technology/Innovation, their interrelationships, support and models for effectiveness and success.


  Distance Learning Innovation

The NUTN Distance Education Innovation Award is presented to an individual or group of individuals representing an institution that has developed an innovative program or practice that contributes to the use of technology in teaching and learning (including distance, hybrid and blended learning). The award for innovation may be for a new program, an ongoing program, student or support services, pedagogy, faculty development and support, or technology. Awards may be given in Open, NUTN Member and Corporate categories.

Judging of materials will be based on the following criteria, with the understanding that every criterion need not be addressed in the nomination:

  • Program Efficacy. How the innovation leads to a measurable improvement in student outcomes (one or more of persistence, retention, learning, employment)
  • Cost to student. How the innovation leads to a measurable reduction in tuition cost to the student
  • Cost to institution. How the innovation leads to a measurable reduction in the cost of online program delivery or efficient use of resources for the institution
  • Transferability. How generalizable the innovation is to other institutions offering distance education programs

Each submission should be organized to correspond to the criteria described in the previous paragraph. Submissions are limited to 5 pages of narrative and additional material limited to 3 attachments. Links to additional online material may be provided. Full contact information for the individual submitting the application must be provided.

  Institutional Achievement Award

The NUTN Institution Achievement award recognizes an institution (college, university, non-profit organization etc) that is a member of the National University Technology Network (NUTN) for effective use of technology in teaching and learning and in organizational administration (or administrative operations) that is exemplary, demonstrates leadership and commitment, and advances the field as an institutional model.

Award criteria:

  1. Organizational Commitment – The institution is organized for success in the broad uses of technology in teaching and learning (distance learning, hybrid and blended offerings) and/or organizational operations both on and off the campus. Evidence includes administrative leadership, faculty and support staff in key positions in a way that is consistent with the institution’s mission, and incorporation into an institution’s planning, and goal-setting processes.

  2. Quality of Offerings - The institution demonstrates how technology has been applied to improve learning, access, faculty, student satisfaction and/or organizational operations.

    Scale and Scope of offerings - The institution offers a variety of programs blended with technology in whole or in part in diverse disciplines which are representative of the institution’s total offerings. Programs are available on a regional or national basis consistent with the institution’s scope and mission.

  3. Effectiveness – The institution’s technology-assisted offerings have led to faculty teaching high-quality on-line, blended, technology-assisted or hybrid courses within a significant segment of the institution with a high degree of student satisfaction and academic measures of success.

  4. Advancing the field - The institution’s efforts with programs and/or processes and achievements have been exemplary, have transferability, and have substantively contributed to the overall advancement of teaching and learning through its effective use of technology.

Nominations may be submitted by the Board and NUTN membership, or by self-nomination of NUTN institutions, and must provide evidence responsive to the award criteria. Such documentation should include institutional mission; goals or strategic objectives as relates to technology, teaching and learning; and measures of quality and success. Full contact information for the individual submitting the application must be provided. All candidates' submissions will remain active for three years and may be updated annually.

  NUTN Research and Scholarship Award

The NUTN Research and Scholarship Award recognizes an individual or multiple individuals who have engaged in significant new research with implications for the field of distance learning and the use of technology as a delivery mechanism in higher education. Awards may be given for master’s thesis or research paper; doctoral dissertation; or independent scholarly research. Research must have been conducted in the past two years with findings either published or accepted for publication.

The award is intended to encourage the efforts of NUTN members and non-members and contribute to the distance learning field with best practices or implications for the improvement of learning through the delivery of technology. Awards will be presented each year at the NUTN annual conference.

Awards Criteria:
The research must:

  • Improve upon the field of distance learning;
  • Be relevant for practitioners, faculty, or administrators;
  • Enhance quality delivery of teaching and learning though technology;
  • Improve student learning;
  • Build upon existing literature or research; and
  • Represent the highest qualities of scholarship.

A committee will evaluate the research project and/or paper and select the recipient(s) based upon the following factors: selection of the problem; design of the study; analysis and interpretation of data; and summary, conclusions and recommendations. The inclusion of a published case study with relevant implications for best practices is also encouraged.

Nominations for the Research and Scholarship Award must be submitted by a member or non-member of NUTN. Winners who are not representing a member institution will be granted a one-year complimentary individual membership. Completed nominations shall include the following:

  • A narrative statement of not more than 3 pages, detailing specific ways in which the research meets the criteria above.
  • In the case of a research project, a written summary of the research findings.
  • Current vita of individual nominee(s) or lead researcher(s) for the research project.

  Learner Recognition Award

NUTN Learner Recognition Awards recognize individuals whose substantial use of the opportunities that technology offers for education enabled them to advance academically, professionally or personally in a demonstrably impactful way. The award applies to learners who relied on distance, hybrid or blended learning to complete a substantial part of an accredited degree or whose comparable learner experience otherwise relying substantially on technology and resulted in a recognized credential. More than one Learner Recognition Award may be given annually.

Award Criteria:

  • Grit – The learner seized the opportunity afforded by technology and overcame obstacles to realize academic, personal and/or professional aspirations.
  • Academic Achievement – The learner has completed with distinction an accredited degree or nontraditional credential through distance or blended learning or through other modes that rely on technology for delivery.
  • Professional or Personal Advancement – The learner can show that the successful learning experience as defined has been able to further personal and/or professional goals.

Nominations for the NUTN Learner Recognition award may come from NUTN members and local or host institutions to the annual NUTN conference. Nominations should address the three criteria above. Selected learners will be invited to attend the NUTN annual event with a complementary registration to receive their recognition award. Recipient’s travel expenses should be covered by the nominating institution. Full contact information for the individual submitting the application as well as for the learner nominated must be provided.

  The Shirley Davis Partnership Award

Partnerships between academic institutions and corporations (or other non-academic organizations) can be creative and powerful opportunities for advancing teaching and learning through the use of technology. They bring together technology-based resources, perspectives and approaches that can uniquely and positively impact experiences and outcomes for students. This award recognizes such partnerships that have demonstrated impact from the collaboration and integration of perspectives and resources in an initiative or program.

Award Criteria:

  1. Partnerships must include at least one academic institution and at least one corporation or non-academic institution
  2. Contributions of each partner in the collaboration are meaningful, must represent the unique perspective of the partner, and must go beyond financial support for the initiative
  3. Qualifying partnerships in this project must be the outcome of work between the partners that goes above and beyond a provider-client relationship.
  4. Must demonstrate a positive outcome or other positive impact for students through the use of technology.

Completed nominations shall include the following:

  • A narrative statement about the partnership of not more than 3 pages, identifying and (briefly) describing the partners and detailing specific ways in which the partnership meets the criteria above.
  • A written summary of the impact on students and how such impact was evaluated.