LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — An organization of hundreds institutions and corporations that use online education has given an award to the distance learning director at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

The Online Learning Consortium recently named Luke Dowden as recipient of the 2014 Bruce N. Chaloux Award for Early Career Excellence in Online Education. The nonprofit group will present seven awards on Thursday during its conference in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

Dowden was hired in 2010 to establish the university's distance learning office. University official Ellen Cook says the university had only one online program, limited faculty development for online teaching and no way to track online and hybrid courses.

She says it now 7,431 students taking 253 online and hybrid courses, up 229 percent from 77 courses in spring 2011.