Thomas Edison State University’s (TESU) Center for Learning and Technology — recently renamed to ‘The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology’ in honor of William J. Seaton’s years of commitment to the university and educational technologies that support adult learning — is charting new innovative paths in online and mobile learning.
Seaton, who just retired from his role as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, was instrumental in building up the University’s highly engaging learning technologies serving TESU’s more than 16,000 students.
From distant learning through pre-internet dial up lines and VHS cassette tapes back in the early 1980s to rapid fire engagement using the latest video and coding techniques, TESU’s course technology has come a mighty long way as they execute and deliver one of the best online programs in the Country.
“Bill’s uncompromising commitment to quality and high standards in the application of technology as an academic tool, has played a significant role in the university’s standing as a pioneer and symbol of academic integrity in adult learning,” said Dr. Merodie A. Hancock, president. “Our Board of Trustees, on the recommendation of President Emeritus Dr. George A. Pruitt, agreed to rename the university’s Center for Learning and Technology in honor of Bill and we are thrilled to have the center reflect his legacy.”
Seaton announced his intention to retire this past fall. When he joined the institution in 1981, the then nine year-old college was already familiar in higher education circles for awarding adult learners credit for prior learning and testing. He anticipated that distance education modalities would need to be expanded to respond to the burgeoning adult learner market and oversaw the institution’s launch of the guided independent study program.
Later, the Computer Assisted Lifelong Learning (CALL) Network, a pre-internet innovation, was introduced enabling students to take courses and access the college’s services via a dial-up computer network. Soon after, Seaton became associate vice president of the university’s Directed Independent Adult Learning (DIAL) program. Under the program’s auspices, the college was able to position itself as one of the first accredited institutions in the nation to offer courses and, later, entire degree programs online.
Since then, the institution has grown from offering a handful of courses and 18 enrollments, to enrolling more than 16,000 students and celebrating tens of thousands of alums – from active-duty military service members to registered nurses – who depend on the university’s course technologies to advance their education.
“I’d like to thank Bill for his 37 years of service to both the university and the field of adult education,” said Hancock, during a reception and portrait unveiling held in Seaton’s honor on Dec. 7. “His counsel, advice and the foundation he has laid have been invaluable to me. I wish him the very best in his well-deserved retirement.”
Matthew Cooper, associate provost at the W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology at Thomas Edison State University, and the creator of the FlashTrack™ program, led the way on the University’s Mobile Learning Initiative since joining TESU in 2009, and has worked toward innovating and trailblazing new delivery methods for academic content.
Launched with its first courses in 2009, FlashTrack™ delivered an entire course completely on a two gigabyte (2 GB) flash drive and contained the same structure and functionality of a typical online course but without the need for a constant online connection. The college received the National University Technology Network’s 2011 Distance Education Innovation Award for the development of this innovative course delivery system.
The W. J. Seaton Center for Learning and Technology at 102 W. State Street is filled with talented people of various skill sets and disciplines working in tandem to produce amazing online courses through a number of intricate delivery systems. William Seaton, a visionary leader during this fascinating journey at TESU, expressed his sincere gratitude for being a major part of it all.
“It has been an honor to work for Thomas Edison State University,” said Seaton. “I am proud of my contribution to expanding access to higher education for adult learners and confident that Thomas Edison State University will build upon this in creating an exciting, meaningful future for itself and the community it serves.”
The university will begin its search for Seaton’s replacement in early 2019.