College Earns National Innovation Award

August 8, 2011

Thomas Edison State College has been selected by the National University Technology Network (NUTN) to receive its 2011 Distance Education Innovation Award for the development of the FlashTrack® course delivery system, which delivers entire courses to students via a flash drive and does not require a constant Internet connection.

“While so many in distance education are rushing to translate course work for mobile devices, this program makes a great argument for mobile accessible courses via a flash drive,” said Dr. Mel Muchnik, chair of the NUTN 2011 Awards Committee. “The innovation seems easy to use and comprehensive in terms of addressing students’ needs.”

Muchnik noted that this year the distance education innovation category was the most competitive in NUTN’s history. The award will be presented to the college at NUTN’s 29th annual event, Network 2011, in Fort Worth, Texas, on Sept. 27.

“We are honored to receive national recognition for our efforts to create more flexible course delivery options for adult learners,” said Dr. Henry van Zyl, vice provost of Directed Independent Adult Learning at Thomas Edison State College. “Earning this award from NUTN means a lot to our institution as we continue to develop ways to leverage technology to better serve our students.”

The college launched its first generation of flash drive-based courses in spring 2009, which the college named FlashTrack® courses. Later that year, the college received a two-year grant from the U.S. Department of Education’s Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) that helped accelerate the deployment of a second generation of FlashTrack® courses. The first of those courses which were launched in fall 2010.

“We created FlashTrack® to serve students who needed to access their entire course as well as the computer programs required to complete the course,” said Matthew Cooper, director of Instructional Technology and Instructional Design and Development at Thomas Edison State College and lead developer of FlashTrack®. “Utilizing the flash drive, we are able to deliver the course, all course materials and all the software needed to complete the course via a portable, removable device that is not dependent on having an Internet connection or even owning your own computer.”

The second generation FlashTrack® courses contain a similar structure and functionality of the college’s typical 12-week, asynchronous online courses but without the need for a constant online connection. Students need an Internet connection only to submit assignments. The actual course work can be completed offline.

“I think what we are doing is revolutionizing course delivery methods in higher education,” said Van Zyl. “Our goal is to reach a level of flexibility and access that is unprecedented and we are excited to continue moving forward in that direction.”

About Thomas Edison State College
Thomas Edison State College provides flexible, high-quality, collegiate learning opportunities for self-directed adults. One of New Jersey’s 12 senior public institutions of higher education, the College offers associate, bachelor’s and master’s degrees in more than 100 areas of study. Students earn degrees through a wide variety of rigorous and high-quality academic methods that can be customized to meet their individual needs. Identified by Forbes magazine as one of the top 20 colleges and universities in the nation in the use of technology to create learning opportunities for adults, Thomas Edison State College is a national leader in the assessment of adult learning and a pioneer in the use of educational technologies. The College is home to The John S. Watson Institute for Public Policy. The New Jersey State Library is an affiliate of Thomas Edison State College. Further information about admission to the College may be obtained by calling (888) 442-8372, via e-mail at or by visiting the College Web site at

About the National University Technology Network:
The NUTN Network is a professional development network for innovative leaders advancing teaching and learning in the distance learning field. Headquartered at the Dallas County Community College District's R. Jan LeCroy Center for Educational Telecommunications, the National University Technology Network (NUTN) is a consortium of higher education institutions and provides a networking and professional development arena for the advancement of teaching and learning. NUTN recognizes that our member institutions are at many different points along the continuum of the implementation of educational technologies. The organization provides member institutions the opportunity for networking and collaboration to face the challenges for successful implementation of these technologies.