• University of West Alabama first institution to earn Integrity Excellence Certification for online education

          LIVINGSTON, Ala.—The University of West Alabama is the first institution of higher learning in the nation to earn the Integrity Excellence Certification in recognition of the quality and integrity of its online course offerings.

          The certification is part of The Trusted Seal program formally launched Feb. 26 at the 2013 Annual International Center for Academic Integrity International Conference in San Antonio.  The Trusted Seal is a joint venture of ICAI and Software Secure.

          The certification is awarded to online academic courses that meet a set of standardized core criteria to educate, promote and protect academic integrity in the online learning environment. 

          UWA achieved the first Integrity Excellence Certification after two of its online courses were successfully reviewed for academic integrity standards.  The integrity of those two UWA online courses, as well as those achieving certification in the future, will be identified with The Trusted Seal emblem.

          According to UWA Provost Dr. David Taylor, while the seal cannot ensure the integrity of a course, it is evidence that the instructor has designed the course according to “best practices” as recognized by leaders in educational integrity.

          Integrity and quality in distance education have been strategic initiatives of the University of West Alabama since it began offering degrees online in 2002, said Taylor.

          “The University of West Alabama is a pacesetter in offering degrees completely online as well as a national leader in ensuring that those online courses are designed and delivered with the utmost integrity and quality,” he noted.  “Achieving this national certification is a testament to the stringent standards we apply to all of our academic offerings—whether online or on-campus—and to the dedication and hard work of our faculty and staff.”

          Taylor added that the university will be seeking Integrity Excellence Certification for its other online academic courses over time.
          The first two courses that have achieved the Integrity Excellence Certification are EH 101, Written English I, taught by Adam Wear and IL 673, Models of Exemplary Leadership in Education, taught by Dr. Jan Miller.

          Mike Pratt, UWA’s director of information technology, said the university uses a variety of hardware and software, such as Turnitin and the Software Secure Remote Proctor, to give online students convenience in learning, while ensuring the credibility of the degree.  He added that having online courses certified through The Trusted Seal criteria further affirms that quality standards are being applied to UWA’s online programs that are being audited annually and confirmed by an outside organization.

          “This communicates to our students, faculty, staff and the entire higher education community that we are using the best-in-class standards and technologies to protect the integrity of our online programs,” explained Pratt.  “Achieving this certification demonstrates that our commitment to integrity and quality doesn’t end at UWA’s campus, but extends worldwide.”

          Established in 1835, the University of West Alabama is a fully accredited, four-year public institution located on a 600-acre campus in Livingston, Ala.  UWA has more than 2,300 on-campus students enrolled in some 44 undergraduate and 37 graduate degree programs.  The university enrolls another 2,500 students in 43 degree programs completely online, including 37 graduate education degrees, five undergraduate business degrees, and one undergraduate education degree.

          Software Secure is a recognized leader and pioneer in secure, computer-based testing solutions.  ICAI is a nonprofit organization begun in 1992 to identify, affirm and promote the values of academic integrity among students, faculty, teachers and administrators.

     

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