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Professors Receive Distance Education Awards

Submitted by on June 26, 2012 – 12:56 pm


John Murray

John Murray

Two Northern Essex Community College professors, Paul Zipper of Haverhill and John Murray of Kittery, ME, are the recipients of the Massachusetts College’s Online (MCO) Course of Distinction (COD) Award given to state faculty who have developed and teach innovative online and blended courses that are representative of the best uses of eLearning instructional tools to enhance student success.

The awards were presented during Mass College Online’s 8th annual conference on elearning at Bridgewater State College, which was held in June.

Murray, program and clinical coordinator of sleep technology at NECC, was honored for an Electrocardiography II course he developed. A seven-week, hybrid course for students in the health care technician program, this course combines online learning with traditional classroom learning. It exemplifies best practices in hybrid course design by using the online portion of the course for reflection and critical analysis.

“I believe my course has been successful due to its simple design,” says Murray. “My course includes voice over presentations, weekly discussions and quizzes that are scheduled for the same day each week.”

Zipper, Ph.D., an adjunct faculty member at NECC, and a lieutenant with the Massachusetts State Police, developed Criminal Law, a fully online course. He orients the students to the course and communicates to them exactly what is expected of the students with clear instructions and detailed rubrics. The students must complete a Course Navigation Quiz to be sure they have read the syllabus and understand the course policies.

He credits NECC’s Center for Instructional Technology (CIT) with making his online course a success.

“CIT has developed an excellent ITEACH program that introduced me to theories on student learning styles and the mechanics of online instruction. After taking the ITEACH program, I was able to take my vision of a criminal law course, apply it to what I learned in ITEACH and then build, develop and manage my course with the knowledge,” Zipper said.

Zipper brings his 25-year experience as a state police officer into the online course and the students benefit from his expertise and wisdom. He, along with two other troopers, was instrumental in getting new legislation criminalizing the possession of materials used in the manufacturing of explosives. The effort also led to the overhaul of state law governing bombs and explosives. Zipper received the Medal of Merit for his efforts.

Northern Essex offers dozens of online courses, web enhanced courses, and hybrid courses each semester. They range from cultural anthropology to mythology and literature.

A number of online degrees are offered including criminal justice and liberal arts. Certain degrees are 80 percent online such as business management and sleep technology. To see NECC’s online course and program offerings go to