By Kim Walter
Lord Fairfax Community College has been recognized as a 2013 Best of Web Award winner by the Center for Digital Education.
The award highlights K-12 and higher education websites that enrich both student and teacher education. Colleges and universities from across the country competed for the title, but LFCC and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York came out on top.
Honorable mentions went to Sul Ross State University in Texas, and Virginia Western Community College.
The Center for Digital Education is a national research and advisory institute specializing in K-12 and higher education technology trends, policy and funding. It is a division of eRepublic, a national publishing, event and research company focused on smart media for public sector innovation.
According to a release from LFCC, Kim Frame, executive director of the Center for Digital Education, said the award recognizes creativity and an institution's dedication toward excellence.
"Educational institutions are constantly tasked with creating quality websites and applications to deliver services and enhance learning," she said. "This year's winners are cognizant of this challenge and have developed innovative models to increase learning and promote achievement via the use of technology."
The college's website allows students to register for classes, contact professors, learn more about events and connect via Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
Aaron Riddle, LFCC's design and digital media specialist, said it was important to him that the website was accessible and easy to use for the variety of types of attending the college.
"If someone is thinking about coming to LFCC, we want as much information as possible to be right at their fingertips," he said. "I think our use of social media appeals to younger students, but they aren't the only ones checking out the website."
Search options, text size and the personalized step-by-step application process also make the website easy to use for older students, he said.
Riddle said he happened to come across the award by chance, and decided to fill out an application. The college has won a few similar awards for its website before, but nothing quite as prestigious as the "Best of Web."
"As a team, we are always striving to do the best we can with what we have," Riddle said of the website. "But this award, for me, validated that we're moving in the right direction."
One component of the website that Riddle is most proud of is the class search and schedule capability. He said class sizes and dates are constantly being updated, making it easier for students to form schedules based on their specific needs.
The website is also closely linked to the needs of faculty members.
Riddle said he is happy to create pages, links and other resources for teachers and departments, so they can in turn keep students informed.
Looking forward, Riddle is planning for a complete face-lift and redesign of the website within the next year.
"I don't think we'll ever stop working on this," he said. "As technology and the needs of our students change, so will our website."
To check out the award-winning website, go to www.lfcc.edu.
Contact staff writer Kim Walter at 540-465-5137 ext. 191, or firstname.lastname@example.org