2020-2021 Innovation of the Year Award Winner: Cuyahoga Community College

Bringing the Outside In: Connecting Online Learners to the Outdoors

Cuyahoga Community College’s Center for Learning Excellence (CLE) and Plant Science and Landscape Technology program (PST) created an online certificate program—a robust and evolving partnership with local employer Davey Tree—and improved student engagement and learning. Before the pandemic, faculty worked with the CLE to create course cohesion, and CLE staff created a logo, banners, and course shell to ensure that students could easily navigate course sites. When classes moved online, CLE staff assisted PST faculty in creating plant walk videos, allowing students to learn how to identify plants in their habitats. The CLE also worked with Davey Tree’s design staff to incorporate resources from the Davey Tree library into courses. The innovative plant walks, combined with improved course design and Davey Tree resources, improved student learning and engagement and resulted in the creation of an online certificate program to attract current green industry and horticulture workers.


  • Steve Ahern, Instructional Support Specialist
  • Jim Funai, Instructor, Health Careers and Sciences
  • Jeff Rodgers, Specialist, Digital Instructional Access
  • Heather Young, Senior Instructional Designer
  • Lori Zatroch, Director, Plant Science
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