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College of Extended Learning recognized for outstanding service

Published 1/22/19

Hunter McCrary

TNE Writer

The College of Extended Learning received an award recognizing the Healthcare Administration Certificate program. The CEL is a part of the Continuing Education department. It allows professionals to extend the knowledge they have acquired. The 2018 Outstanding Services to Underserved Populations award was presented to CEL by the Association for Continuing Higher Education.

“I am the proud sponsor of the program and support Mr. Tozzio's efforts from every direction,” said Eloy Chavez, CEL dean. “There is a strong belief that we could reach out beyond the USA. This is the only reason CEL has succeeded far beyond our expectations. With endorsement from our president, Dr. Turner, along with strong internal staff support and of course Mr. Tozzio's high quality knowledge base, NSU is now an internationally recognized program serving the underserved, especially in African nations.”

Mark Tozzio has been an administrator for over 38 years. The last five years have been dedicated to this program. He is dedicated to helping continue the education of the students. This program allows international health professionals a chance to improve their knowledge at an affordable rate. Tozzio has students in Ethiopia, Kenya, the Cayman Islands and Aruba.

“There have been over 200 international students to take one or more of the five courses offered,” said Tozzio. “Students are able to take online courses through NSU to help keep them on top of their careers. In the job market, there is little to no opportunity to extend knowledge except for programs like these. We bring the quality of education found here in Tahlequah but offer it to underserved countries. I have learned of countries I did not know existed until this program.”

This program is solely online and requires students to use Blackboard. It has been adapted to function on a mobile phone instead of a computer due to the greater accessibility. Tozzio believes that IT’s assistance was absolutely critical to the program.

“This is context-based learning, not teaching American style,” said Tozzio. “They are supposed to take the knowledge they have gained and apply it to their conditions.”

Tozzio said the Center for Teaching and Learning takes Blackboard as far as 8,000 miles away in Africa, where the challenges of online learning are being conquered. Since the whole program is online, it must be user friendly and have the ability to change and evolve. This requires major help from the IT department.

“My part of the program was basically organizing Mark’s thoughts,” said Jerol Skinner, CTL director. “Taking known studies for online learning and applying their principals to his courses to maximize the learning for users. I tried to format the courses to be conducive to their ability to learn.”

This program took time, effort and change to be what it is today.

It is tough to build even a small following abroad as the competition is tough,” said Chavez. “At times we only had two students attending the course, but we learned from our experiences. Today the course has grown to 18 to 20 learners in each course, mostly international physicians and executives. The successes from our program have been communicated within the region and we are now being sought out as a viable skill training source of advancement.”

The program is still trying to reach other countries in Africa, and it is developing relationships with South American countries. This award was received with the highest of honor and is also the program’s first award. The program honored the first eight students with their certificates last summer, seven of which are from the Cayman Islands and one is from Aruba. For more information, call the College of Extended Learning at 918-449-6225.

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