Guest Post by Dr. Shirley Waterhouse, Senior Director of the Office of Academic Excellence and Innovation at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

January is the time of the year when we all seem to do some reflecting.  As a director in the Exemplary Course Program (ECP), I look forward to this time of the year because I have the opportunity to begin the review of course submissions.  I also take time to reflect on the progress of the ECP program and the yearly advancements in e-learning pedagogy throughout the academy that are demonstrated in the course submissions.

To go a step further in reflection this year, I recently interviewed several of the 2011 ECP winners to ask them to reflect on the process of submitting their courses.  All of them commented on how valuable it was to receive input from peers at other institutions, and they all indicated that the recognition they received was very nice too.  When I asked Lorna Kearns, an instructional designer with the Center for Instructional Development and Distance Education at the University of Pittsburgh, about her experience with the ECP program and their winning course, Organization and Management Theory, she indicated that the self-review process was the most valuable component of the program for her and her colleagues.  “Going through the self-evaluation process revealed insights not only about the course I submitted but also about other courses for which I provide instructional design support. Working with two of my colleagues as course reviewers offered additional opportunities for understanding what constitutes effective online course design.”

Lorna Kearns and Team

The ECP submission form and the extensive ECP rubric provide an outstanding frame of reference for reflecting on and reviewing online course elements.  Through the years I’ve served as a director in the program, I have spoken with many individual faculty members as well as many members of design and development teams. Many have used the ECP rubric in a number of creative ways – helping to raise awareness on what is needed for quality online learning strategies and guiding course evaluations.  In fact, the ECP rubric identifies seventeen important elements needed for effective online learning and provides details on the criteria that would deem each category exemplary.  The ECP submission form requires careful thought and reflection about course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support as well as a narrative describing the best practices demonstrated in the course for each category.  No matter if you are an individual faculty member who has worked alone to design and develop your course or if you are a member of a design and development team, I encourage you to take advantage of the ECP program and its reflection and review focus.  I’m looking forward to reviewing your course submissions.

To see more information on the winning 2011 ECP courses, click here.

To review the ECP rubric, click here.

Obtain more info on how to submit a course into the ECP program at:   www.blackboard.com/catalyst

Click here to register if you are interested in becoming an ECP course reviewer.

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