Mizzou educators receive awards for online course design, Wednesday, May 17, 2017, in Columbia, Missouri, from Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain and Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. From left: Spain; Carmen Beck, ET@MO instructional designer; Steve Ball, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology associate professor; and Siegenthaler.


More than 40 percent of Mizzou students took at least one online class as part of their schedules in academic year 2016. That percent is expected to grow at Mizzou and at universities nationwide in the coming year. Related to the increase in adoption of online learning is a growing focus on quality and outcomes in online learning.

To that end, MU recognized this week two members of the University of Missouri community for their efforts in designing high-quality online courses.

The awards were presented May 17 as part of MU’s annual Celebration of Teaching, at which the Mizzou community comes together to recognize educators for their unique approaches to teaching.

This year’s awards for Outstanding Online Course Design went to Steve Ball and Carmen L. Beck.

“The dedication and creativity demonstrated by Mizzou’s faculty and instructional designers in both in-class and online courses is unmatched,” said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain. “Successful learning outcomes for our students is our focus regardless of how the class is delivered.”

“It is a privilege to work with educators like Carmen and Steve,” Spain said. “Their enthusiasm and innovative thinking — and that of so many others here at Mizzou — help us provide all Missourians the benefits of a world-class research university. We could not fulfill our mission without them.”  

Ball is a State Specialist and Associate Professor of Nutrition and Exercise Physiology in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. His award recognizes his work in designing the online course Introduction to Exercise and Fitness.

Carla Beckmann, Senior Coordinator of Student Services and Records in the College of Human Environmental Sciences, nominated Ball for the honor. “It was and is very important to Dr. Ball that the presentation of online sections be appealing, meaningful and relevant to the students enrolled in the sections while giving the student the feeling of a classroom experience,” Beckmann wrote.

“Dr. Ball’s commitment to providing a learning environment to students is evident by the care he takes in creating the best possible online course. He accomplishes this by using technology with a personal touch,” she wrote.

The second course design award recipient, Beck, is an instructional designer at ET@MO. Her award acknowledges her work on the online course Introduction to Materials Engineering, which Beck designed alongside Angela Jeffrey.

Beck was nominated by Assistant Professor Heather Hunt in the Department of Bioengineering, who teaches the course.

Hunt noted that, by working on the course design with Beck, she “learned so much about best practices in educational technology, as well as teaching in general. … I became a better teacher, a better listener, and a better self-evaluator, because of [Beck’s] work.”

The awards are sponsored by Mizzou Online, which is dedicated to supporting distance students and expanding distance education at MU.

Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler thanked Ball and Beck for their outstanding contributions to MU. “We recently celebrated the commencement of more than 500 MU students who earned their degrees online,” she said. “That outcome is allowing more than 500 people to move ahead in their lives and careers thanks to online learning, and thanks to exceptional educators like Carmen and Steve.”

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Robin Harris

Even heroes have heroes. In the Sinclair School of Nursing, one woman many look up to is Robin C. Harris, assistant teaching professor and director of the Sinclair doctor of nursing practice (DNP) program.

Harris recently received the Graduate Professional Council Gold Chalk Award for Excellence in Teaching. You can read about all the awards here: Best of the best.

This award is the most recent of many for Harris. In recent years, she has been nominated for the Faculty Award for Excellence in Teaching, selected for the Greater Missouri Leadership Challenge, and presented with the Central Region Excellence Award from the University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA).

Harris’ achievements reflect the excellence of the Sinclair School’s DNP program. The DNP also is accessible online, so practicing nurses can earn their doctorates while fulfilling their clinical responsibilities.

Students can choose from six areas of study:

  • Adult-gerontology clinical nurse specialist
  • Family nurse practitioner
  • Family psychiatric and mental health nurse practitioner
  • Nursing leadership and innovations in health care
  • Pediatric clinical nurse specialist
  • Pediatric nurse practitioner

If you’re a nurse-hero and want to learn from one of the very best in the business, look into an online DNP from the Sinclair School of Nursing today.

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Commencement ceremonies at the University of Missouri this weekend, May 12–14, celebrate the achievements of Mizzou’s new graduates. They also acknowledge the dedication and perseverance of graduates, including those who have earned online degrees and certificates from MU.

Christine Mathews

“Each one of us made the choice and sacrifices necessary to carve out special time to refocus our minds on higher order thinking and concepts,” says online graduate Christine Mathews, execMBA ’17. “We were constantly testing our thinking and the management of our most precious resource — our time.”

Mathews’ remarks are part of MU’s May online commencement celebration. In her address, Mathews encourages her fellow graduates to preserve the fortitude that carried them through their online studies.

“If each of us rethinks our structuring of resources a little bit, we can find a way to maintain an attitude of lifelong learning, weaving that into our life balance going forward,” she says. 

Spring commencement honors roughly 5,400 Tigers graduating in the spring or summer ’17 semesters. More than 500 of them have earned online college degrees or certificates. Roughly 72 percent of those online graduates are receiving master’s or educational specialist degrees or doctorates; 20 percent are receiving bachelor’s degrees; 8 percent, graduate certificates.

Members of Mizzou’s online class of ’17 live throughout the United States and as far away as Korea. They range in age from 21 to 66.

Dean Kristofer Hagglund of the School of Health Professions also delivers a commencement address as part of Mizzou Online’s virtual commencement ceremony. In his remarks, he joins Mathews in thanking family members and friends for the support they gave their graduates.

“It’s important that the family and friends understand that being a distance student is not easy. It takes commitment and time away from things that matter,” Hagglund says. “We consider our graduates’ family and friends part of the Mizzou family as well, because together we reached this important day.”

Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler praises the graduates and echoed Mathews’ gratitude to the MU community. “MU professors, advisers, staff and so many other people are dedicated to ensuring that distance students experience the same quality educational experience as students on campus,” Siegenthaler says. “And it’s a treat for us, as faculty and staff, to get to work with distance students who are often midcareer and have such different viewpoints to share in classes.”

Mathews’ and Hagglund’s graduation season remarks appear on online.missouri.edu/commencement. Graduates can use the site to share photos, and their friends and families can write congratulatory notes in the online guest book.

For more information about the on-campus graduation ceremonies, please visit the Registrar’s commencement page at commencement.missouri.edu.


Researchers at the University of Missouri are helping land managers understand how to use controlled fires to reach forest management objectives.

Benjamin Knapp

In a new MU study, published in Forest Ecology and Management, MU researcher Benjamin Knapp examined forest fire data collected since 1949 from the University Forest Conservation Area in southeast Missouri. The data showed how varying frequencies of controlled burns resulted in different forest structures.

Read more about the study here: Prescribed forest fire frequency should be based on land management goals

MU has always sought to provide accessible educational opportunities. One way it does so is through the online delivery of courses and programs like the master’s degree and graduate certificate in agroforestry.

These graduate study programs from the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources can help you advance your career in the rapidly expanding and globally acclaimed field of agroforestry.

Graduates of the online programs can go on to help landowners diversify their income, improve soil quality and increase biodiversity.

If you want to advance your career in agriculture, food science, conservation, forestry or geoscience, look into MU’s online master’s degree in agroforestry and online graduate certificate in agroforestry.

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Terrie Nagel

Persistence and steady progress are the keys to success in self-paced learning, according to a recent study by Mizzou Online Assistant Director for Research Terrie Nagel.

The study, titled “Academic achievement and persistence in online self-paced courses,” has earned Nagel the Winemiller Excellence Award.

The Trulaske College of Business at the University of Missouri presents the award annually to MU students, faculty and staff who demonstrate outstanding data-based quantitative reasoning.

Original studies like Nagel’s represent one more way Mizzou Online helps distance learners succeed.

For her research, Nagel analyzed 11,829 records of students who took self-paced online courses at MU during the 2014–15 academic year.

Nagel ran dozens of multilevel models to understand how students’ gender, academic level, enrollment time and completion time related to their academic achievement and persistence.

“All of us at Mizzou Online are proud of Terrie’s well-deserved award,” said Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. “The entire staff here is committed to the success of Mizzou’s distance students.”

The University of Missouri now offers one of the most popular college degrees online – business administration.

The program is 100 percent online, making it the perfect alternative for people who have some college experience but who left early to enter the work force. The online degree also is meant for those finishing their two-year business degrees at community colleges and can’t relocate to work on their four-year bachelor’s degrees.

Applications are now being accepted: the application deadline is July 1. Classes start August 21.

Ajay Vinzé, Dean of the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at MU, said the program aims to help people take the next step in their careers.

“The program has high expectations for its students – the curriculum parallels our existing in-class experience. As with our on-campus programs, the online version will deliver key business fundamentals and equip our students as future drivers of commerce. We will achieve this while driving students to be hard-working team players – who innovate, motivate others, and think strategically,” Vinzé said. “Graduates from this program will help with critical workforce needs in our local and national economy.”

Business administration graduates are in demand. Job growth opportunities in certain business related occupations are projected to grow between 7 and 15 percent in Missouri by 2024, according to the Missouri Economic Research and Information Center.

“Offering this online option for completing a business degree allows students from across Missouri and beyond an option to engage with our award-winning business program,” Vinzé said. 

Online students will follow the same curriculum – and will be held to the same academic standards – as students in the on-campus program.

Cohorts will begin the program each autumn, beginning with the fall 2017 semester, and proceed through their course work as a collaborative learning community.

The online class work features interaction and students will work together to perfect their skills in planning, organizing, staffing and directing a business, project or department. Courses will show them how to create and manage customers and connect consumers to goods.

By the time they graduate, students also will have experience with financial markets and be able to better navigate the decision-making process in organizations.

Tuition award for Missouri community college graduates

The program is designed as a degree completion program, meaning students need 60 credit hours or an associate’s degree from a regionally accredited institution to be accepted to the online program.

Students who transfer to the online program after earning an associate’s degree from one of Missouri’s public community colleges are eligible for a 10 percent tuition award.

“We are committed to increasing access and affordability,” said Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. “Mizzou now offers more than 100 online degrees and certificates making a well-respected MU degree more accessible.

“And with the Mizzou Online Community College Tuition Award for those who graduated from one of Missouri’s public community colleges, we are working to stay as affordable as possible,” Siegenthaler said.

Return on investment

Mizzou’s new online bachelor of science in business administration is unique among Missouri programs in that it emphasizes professional development and career services.

Online learners will take part in internships, just as students in the on-campus business administration program do. Students who already work full-time can satisfy internship requirements through their current employer by engaging with new projects, departments or opportunities.

“We have a tremendously connected alumni network and well-established Business Career Services,” said Vinzé. “With more than 92 percent of our students placed in their chosen fields within three months of graduation, our students are realizing a quick ROI from their Trulaske experience.” 

Graduates will be well-positioned for careers in many areas, including banking and finance, human resources, insurance, and marketing and sales.

Applications are now being accepted: the application deadline is July 1. Classes start August 21. 

Learn more about MU’s online bachelor’s degree in business administration.

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The University of Missouri has long been home to farm-to-table scholarship. Now Mizzou’s successful hospitality management program is getting a refresh to meet growing demand for employees with college education.

MU has retooled its online bachelor of science in hospitality management to create more opportunities for students in the management of all hospitality sectors, particularly in conferences and events, food and beverage sites, lodging facilities and sports venues.

The program is currently accepting applications for students who want to begin their studies in August.     

Education makes the difference

Today’s hospitality professionals need management skills if they want to turn their passions into careers, said Eliza Tse, professor and chair of the Department of Hospitality Management within the MU College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.

“Industry professionals tell me they often have a rising star with great technical skills whom they want to promote to a managerial role, but the employee doesn’t have the interpersonal or conceptual skills to move up,” she said. “That’s why a bachelor’s degree is important.”

Demand for educated workers is growing in hospitality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the leisure and hospitality industry provides 15.8 million jobs in the United States.

More and more of those jobs are in management. The number of food service manager jobs in Missouri grew 48 percent between 2013 and 2015, according to data from the Missouri Department of Economic Development.

Lodging management jobs in Missouri grew 13 percent over the same period; meeting, convention and event planner jobs, 34 percent.

“The students we see enrolling in this hospitality management program are professionals who work very hard, without a doubt,” said Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. “We’re confident that this bachelor’s degree will help them advance in their careers faster.”

Real-world solutions

MU’s online bachelor’s degree in hospitality management nurtures future leaders of this global industry with management-level skills in all areas of the industry.

Students learn human resources, marketing and other business management skills online. Working professionals can apply their new abilities immediately in their current jobs, whether they work in conferences and events, food and beverage, lodging or sports venues.

Mizzou understands that career professionals frequently have unpredictable schedules. “You may work in a hotel that’s open 24-seven. Or you’re on rotation and you don’t know when your next day off will be,” Tse said. “Our online program gives you the flexibility to study around that kind of demanding schedule.”

“At Mizzou, we take pride in programs like this that foster interdisciplinary collaboration to provide real-world solutions,” said Vice Provost of Undergraduate Studies Jim Spain.

“Dr. Tse has put together a diverse faculty of industry professionals from around the world. With their global perspective, experience and scholarship, students are in store for a learning experience they won’t find anywhere else,” Spain said.

Tse encourages hospitality industry employees who have completed some college to apply. Those who have finished accredited, two-year college programs will find the transfer process easy to navigate with assistance from the program’s adviser and Mizzou Online staff.

Students should apply by July 1 to begin studies in fall. Learn more about the online bachelor's in hospitality management.

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Researchers at MU’s Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders are looking for more people to participate in the nation’s largest autism study.

The Thompson Center already has enrolled 2,500 individuals with autism and their family members in the Simons Foundation Powering Autism Research for Knowledge (SPARK) project 

Researchers hope to collect information from 50,000 individuals with autism and their families. The scientists will analyze participants’ DNA to advance understanding of the causes of autism and hasten the discovery of supports and treatments.

The Thompson Center is one of a select group of national research institutions chosen by the Simons Foundation to assist with recruitment for the free study. Participants can register online and have all required materials mailed directly to their homes.

Read the full story here: University of Missouri Thompson Center recruiting children, adults with autism for landmark genetic study

For educators who work with children and families affected by autism, the MU Department of Special Education offers two 100-percent online master of education degrees.

The online master’s with an emphasis in autism helps you work effectively with children and youth with autism and their families. The degree has potential benefits for:

  • Career or technical education teachers
  • Instructional coordinators
  • Occupational therapists
  • Recreational therapists
  • School counselors
  • Special education teachers

The online master’s with an emphasis in early childhood special education and autism will help you design, deliver and evaluate services to children from birth to age 5. This program is a good choice for:

  • Early childhood practitioners
  • Early interventionists
  • Child-care center workers
  • Head Start teachers
  • School counselors
  • Special education teachers

Advance your career helping children and adults with autism or related conditions. Look into achieving your master’s degree online today.

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The University of Missouri’s online master of education degree programs are among the best in the nation, and the highest ranked in Missouri, according to U.S. News & World Report 2017 Best Online Programs Rankings.

The top 25 percent ranking adds yet another distinction to prospective students’ list of reasons to choose Mizzou for an online degree.

“We hear about so many positive experiences online students have with College of Education faculty and other students,” said Mizzou Online Director Kim Siegenthaler. “We’re delighted to see these outstanding programs receive the national distinction they deserve.”

 “Our online graduate students often share stories about the quality of the content and the teaching,” said College of Education Dean Kathryn Chval. “They tell us how these online degree programs give them access to high quality degrees that they have not been able to access in the past due to their locations and situations.”

“I’m also proud of our professional staff and faculty, who provide a high level of student support services,” Chval said. 

U.S. News ranked schools with online master’s degree programs in education on five general categories: student engagement with faculty and classmates, student services and technology, admission selectivity, faculty credentials and training, and peer reputation.

Mizzou’s online master of education programs ranked higher than any other institution in Missouri. The College of Education offerings climbed 41 positions since last year’s ranking, tying for 61st in the nation.

The College of Education offers online master’s degrees in a variety of areas, ranging from early childhood special education to TESOL and technology in schools, to mental health practices in schools.  

College of Education administrators, faculty and professional staff are committed to lifelong learning for all people — from newborn to senior citizen, rich and poor, and for all levels of ability and all cultures; from learning to read to learning about cultures of the world to learning about oneself. 

If you share that commitment and want to advance your career in education, choose the best online master’s degree for you from the College of Education today.

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Nothing disrupts a healthy lifestyle like the holidays. Between the food and travel, it is easy to lose track of your health goals.

Steve Ball, associate professor of nutrition and exercise physiology at the University of Missouri, says the key to preventing holiday weight gain is to be consistent and realistic.

“Exercise is tough enough, but throw in barriers like traveling, weather and lack of facilities, and it becomes quite easy to take a long break or quit altogether,” Ball said.

Ball has tips to help you stay on track with your exercise and fitness goals during the holidays. Read the full story here: To beat holiday weight gain, create a plan ahead of time.

Ball serves as the state fitness specialist for MU Extension and is a nationally recognized expert on fitness, wellness and body composition research. Among the courses he teaches at Mizzou is NEP 1340 Introduction to Exercise and Fitness, a self-paced, 16-week course that is 100-percent online. 

NEP 1340 provides you with practical information about exercise and physical fitness. As part of the course, students assess their current level of activity/fitness, develop a plan for improvement, and put that plan into action. 

If you want to study online to understand the do's and don'ts of exercise and how to live a healthy life, this course can help. See how you can enroll in Introduction to Exercise and Fitness today.

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