CSM Bus, Motorcoach Academy Wins Award While Keeping An Eye on the Business Road Ahead

Being steady behind the wheel takes on a whole new meaning when you own or operate a transportation business. For the 2008 Maryland Distance Learning Program of the Year—the College of Southern Maryland’s Bus and Motorcoach Academy—being steady also means keeping ahead of trends, safety laws and regulations and keeping your eyes on the business ahead.

CSM’s Bus and Motorcoach Academy, which was recently awarded the distance learning program distinction by the Maryland Distance Learning Association, was developed in conjunction with the United Motorcoach Association and designed specifically for the motorcoach industry. Online courses allow small motorcoach company owners and operators to gain new information and training on trends, safety laws and regulations, customer service, marketing and other business topics that will keep them at the forefront of the industry.

CSM’s Bus and Motorcoach Academy is the college’s first foray in developing a truly national online learning program and an effort that brought together motorcoach industry representatives and CSM subject matter experts, according to Sue Subocz, CSM’s chair of distance learning and project manager. The academy is administered by CSM’s Innovative Teaching Center in cooperation with the Corporate and Community Training Institute.

In determining its recipient, the MDLA evaluates the quality, scope and innovation of a program’s design. MDLA noted that CSM’s Bus and Motorcoach Academy with its two, five-course certificate programs was the “clear winner” for Program of the Year. One program is designed for owners and includes courses on marketing, human relations and employment laws, safety and compliance. The other program is designed for drivers and includes courses on industry standards, licensing laws and regulations, passenger safety and handling, including subsections on assisting passengers, customer service and security, including the highway watch program. Both programs require 110 hours of online contact hours for completion.

“It is particularly exciting to accept this award because it represents such a team effort between many CSM staff and faculty members, as well as a number of outstanding representatives from the motorcoach industry. Coordinating such an effort has proven challenging, but because everyone has been able to focus on the desired outcome of a high quality product for each learner, we have been able to push past the challenges and accomplish our goal. We also see this program's achievements as a great start for CSM as a provider of interactive training courses,” said Subocz.

She said that while the motorcoach industry is currently a small market there are plenty of opportunities for future course development. “Our next step will be to develop higher-level courses that will help operators and drivers develop their careers and mini-courses that could serve as a refresher on a specific topic such as safety regulations,” she added. The CSM Bus and Motorcoach Academy is also looking to develop courses for transit and school bus drivers in the future.

The Distance Education Program of the Year Award was accepted by Subocz. Development team members include lead developers Joel Kinison and Janet Evans-Houser; course content developers Rachel Drake, Alfred Jackson and Chris Grable; scriptwriter Neal Dwyer; multimedia developers Professor Chretien Guidry and Alex Cullen; and narrators Robyn Wood and Stephanie Yoho. The program administrative team included Paul Toscano, Judy Mills, Linda Schleip and Wanda Thomas.

The Maryland Distance Learning Association is a non-profit association formed to promote the development and application of distance learning to education, training, research, business, and communications in Maryland. Among the constituents of MDLA are K-12 education, higher education, continuing education, adult education, self-directed learning, business and governmental training, training organizations, library services, business and governmental communications, and the communications industry. Each spring, the MDLA presents awards for the top distance educators, administrators, courses, and programs as chosen by a rigorous screening process.

For information call 301-934-7615 or 301-870-2309, Ext. 7615 for Charles County; 240-725-5499, Ext. 7615 for St. Mary’s County or 443-550-6199, Ext. 7615 for Calvert County or visit http://www.itc.csmd.edu/uma/.