By Michael McLendon
NASHVILLE, TN (TSU News Service) — The United States Distance Learning Association inducted Tennessee State University’s interim dean of Graduate and Professional Studies, Dr. Robbie K. Melton, into the USDLA 2019 Hall of Fame at the association’s national conference held recently in Nashville.
USDLA, the nation’s leading distance learning organization, honored Melton, along with other outstanding distance learning professionals, last month during the presentation of its 2019 International Distance Learning Awards because of their contributions to the field of distance and online learning.
Melton, who was recently elected to the USDLA Board of Directors, said this honor gives her the opportunity to tell more people about the advancements taking place at TSU.
“When you receive an award of this high caliber, it brings recognition, not to the person, but to the institution, and that was the honor in receiving this award, because then I could stand up and say I am a faculty member at Tennessee State University,” she said.
The USDLA International Awards are presented annually to organizations and individuals engaged in the development and delivery of distance learning programs.
Dr. Reggie Smith III, executive director of USDLA, said the association enjoys honoring leaders within the industry.
“Each year these recognized leaders raise the bar and exceed best practice expectations for the industry as a whole, and we are truly honored by their contributions within all distance learning constituencies,” he said.
Melton’s knowledge of how to best use mobile apps and mobile devices as teaching tools, as well as her creation of the Mobile App Education Workforce Resource Center, have earned her the title “App-ologist.”
Her presence at TSU has strengthened the university’s relationship with many major corporations, such as Verizon, AT&T, Dell, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Samsung, who all currently support initiatives at TSU.
“Right now, I am transitioning into the HBCU C2, ‘Everyone Can Code, And Everyone Can Create’ Initiative that is supported by Apple, where everyone at TSU, students, faculty, staff and community partners, will be embraced and immersed into coding and creativity,” she said.
Now a technology guru, Melton started her career as a special education teacher with a vision for using distance education as a tool to help hospitalized students with disabilities connect with schools.
“I’m one of the old pioneers in distance education before the Internet,” she said. “I was always a risk taker, and a person willing to try out the new technology in terms of developing new courses, teaching online, training online and using different tools online.”
Melton, who formerly served for 20 years as the associate vice chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology for the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR), has amassed many other awards throughout her career, including the 2016 Online Learning Consortium Leadership Award, the 2016 MERLOT Technology Distinguished Leadership Award, and the 2016 WCET Richard Jonsen Award. She has lectured internationally as a keynote speaker in Scotland, Rotterdam, Malawi, France, Argentina and Canada.
She credits her husband, Thomas Melton, with playing a vital role in her success.
“To support all my passion, energy and activity, I have a supportive family, particularly my husband who works to make sure that I am able to do these things,” said Melton, who attended Former U.S. President Barack Obama’s inaugural United State of Women Summit in June 2016 as an invited guest because of her work in technology.
Ultimately, she envisions Tennessee State University becoming the number one university in emerging technology.
“We at Tennessee State University have the knowledge, the skill, the passion and the foresight that companies need in order to make what I call appropriate effective safe secure technology tools,” she said. “My dream for TSU is a national smart technology innovation center to address the challenges of education and workforce issues—a center that would address issues across all professions, health care, business, etc., and we would be the center where we will have technology from all companies, Sony, Dell, Samsung and Apple. Name it, and they will come to us, Tennessee State, for the research, development and creativity, and it will be ever-changing.”