Guest post by Dr. Deborah Everhart, Chief Architect in Product Management, Blackboard Learn and Adjunct Assistant Professor, Georgetown University.
As a Director in the Exemplary Course Program
, I have the privilege and pleasure of reviewing dozens of course submissions each spring. Every year the Directors see course innovations that we’ve never seen before, and I’m personally gratified to see how faculty and instructional designers are using Blackboard Learn in ways that effectively address the needs of students. It expands my understanding of how we can continue to evolve our products, as well as giving me best practice ideas for my own course!
Delving a little deeper into the ECP experience, I interviewed Leslie Koberna from Texas Woman’s University
, one of the 2011 ECP winners. When I asked her what makes her Oral Radiology course exemplary, she described her methodology for getting students engaged during the first week of the course. They are expected to complete activities that acclimate them to the course and familiarize them with the course materials and objectives. For example, they take a practice quiz based on the syllabus, which not only demonstrates that they’ve read and understand the syllabus, but also introduces them to the structure of Blackboard quizzes that they will be taking throughout the semester. Leslie makes sure every student is engaged from the very beginning, greatly improving their opportunities for success in the course.
A “Course Tour
” guides students through the structure of the course and explains how “all assignments are designed around the module objectives to help you learn and apply the material.” Each topic includes both textual and video materials to help the students learn the material from different perspectives. Such a well-organized course makes even a challenging topic like oral radiology approachable.
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.”
Maisie Caines, a Blackboard Exemplary Course Director and Faculty Development Specialist at College of the North Atlantic, recently spent time chatting with Teri Herron of Delta State University
. Teri received the 2011 Exemplary Course Program Award
for her Music in American Culture online course
. So, how does a classically trained opera singer and music historian design and deliver an exemplary online course? According to Teri, it was a “completely wild ride.”
According to Teri: “We need projects that push us out of our comfort zones, because that’s what I’m asking my students to do every time they enroll in any of my classes.” When Teri approached Dr. Susan Hines, Director of Instructional Technologies at Delta State, about designing an online course, she asked for no forgiveness. “I want you to be really hard on me.,” Teri said, “I would rather work diligently one time and then have something upon which multiple layers can be built. You know, build a really solid foundation into which you can add or subtract content, add or subtract media, fuss a little bit with your learning modules… but have something really, really good, structurally sound…something that a student climbs into and thinks, WOW!, this person really cared when they put this together for me.”
Christie Smith, a Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Director and the Director of Online Course Development, Lone Star College-Online recently chatted with two 2011 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program winners—Dorothy Jones and Gillian McKnight-Tutein. Dorothy teaches for Norfolk State University in Norfolk, Virginia, and Gillian teaches for Cuyahoga Community College in Cleveland, Ohio. This was the first time either instructor submitted a course for program review, and they both won! In addition, Gillian participated as a course reviewer to gain experience from the other end of the process.
Both faculty members had their students in mind when they decided to participate in the Exemplary Course Program. Dorothy explained that she was interested in having her course evaluated externally against established standards that indicate “value and quality to potential students.” Gillian’s goal was to receive feedback that would help her to make learning more enjoyable for her students.
When asked what makes their courses exemplary, Dorothy mentioned the overall best practices in course design that were used to redesign her course and the positive feedback she received from her students. She states, “When students enroll in my course, I often hear that it is different from many of the online courses they have taken.” Gillian says her course was built upon the Quality Matters ™ framework, a program similar to the Blackboard ECP that focuses on research-based best practices in course design. View Gillian’s Course Tour
I had the pleasure of speaking with Karen Lynden from Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, a 2011 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program winner. As we begin the 2012 Catalyst Awards season
, I thought it was important to hear from the 2011 winners to find out more about what motivated them to enter their course and how the win has impacted their profession. This is the first of a series of blogs from each of the Catalyst and Exemplary Course Award Winners.
Guest Blog Post from Karen Lynden, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College
It was an honor to be a recipient of a Blackboard Catalyst award
, and a meaningful professional achievement. I can’t think of a better way to close out my tenure as Distance Education Coordinator and begin my new full-time faculty member role at the college!
When I submitted the course for review
, I did not have an expectation of receiving the award. My goal was to receive feedback and gain ideas toward course enhancement. At the time, I was involved with a college initiative for redeveloping our online course template. If I was going to lead a council that influenced the foundation of our online courses, I wanted to be able to personally demonstrate best practices through the courses I developed and facilitated -AKA “walk the talk.” Though I will never know who they specifically were by name, I really appreciate all of the reviewers’ comments that were returned to me at the end of the review cycle. Their notes reinforced the positives and provided me with new ideas.