Karen Kaemmerling, CCCOnline Director of Training and Professional Development, Colorado Community Colleges Online
It seems like a long time ago when my Academic Dean suggested I submit a course — that was still in redevelopment — for evaluation by the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (back then called the “Greenhouse Program”).
While flattered, I immediately started fixating on the pressure of submitting a course and whether or not we would be recognized by the program as being exemplary. (Silly, I know, but I am a bit competitive and high strung.) Specifically, I worried about what people would think of us and our course if we weren’t selected as a finalist. My advice now? Don't let similar thoughts you may have keep you from submitting a course
I began by reviewing the ECP Rubric (download it here) and considering what qualities our course already had, and what I could add to meet the rubric’s standards. This was the most valuable part of the whole process and one that I now recommend to faculty members whether or not they intend to submit a course for review by the program.
This self and course evaluation is something that I do every semester, which is why the U.S. history course that was awarded the Exemplary Course Program award has changed in minor and major ways every semester. However, having a formal rubric, such as the ECP Rubric, gets you thinking outside of your box and brainstorming some truly new ideas for your course.
We submitted the very first running of our CCCOnline (ccconline.org) course, “United States History,” which used digital content from the National Repository of Online Courses and Hippocampus.org. Our students loved the new course design, content and assignments, so I felt successful no matter what feedback we received during the evaluation process of the Exemplary Course Program.
After we submitted our course for evaluation, I put the program mentally behind me and moved on to our next project. I was completely surprised when, on Mother’s Day weekend, I received a call from an ECP director who informed me that our history course had been recognized as exemplary. I could not have been more elated.
I enjoyed traveling to Las Vegas last summer to attend the BbWorld ‘08 user conference, where I accepted the Exemplary Course Program award we were given; but more importantly, since my participation in the process last year, I’ve enjoyed sharing with others what we learned about effective course design. Hopefully we’ve inspired them to try some of their most creative ideas in their own classes.
If you’d like to submit a course to the 2009 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, more information can be found at the ECP site.