By Matt MacLaughlin, Jr., Professor of Logistics, Army Logistics Management College
Now that the 2009 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP) is underway, the next important step toward its success must be taken – the finding of motivated individuals to review the submitted courses.
The idea of actually participating on this side of the ECP can seem daunting at first, I admit. But with the time and care the ECP directors take in training submission evaluators, the entire evaluative process becomes much less scary – easy and rewarding, in fact.
When I signed up to become an ECP evaluator during the program’s first year, my greatest fear was that the colleagues with whom I worked online might think I didn’t know what I was doing. Even though we all come from the community of educators and learners, hoping in some way to identify and promote best practices in engaging online course design, I still felt my contribution to the program somehow would be inadequate. I carried this fear within me as I moved forward in the evaluation process.
But then I received emails with instructions that led me to information I needed to review and guidelines with which I needed to become familiar.
Later, a session was established for all evaluators to meet online and actually take time to discuss and critique the evaluation process. Slowly, I began to forget my fears of inadequacy and look toward the contribution I would be making for the good of the program.
Being an ECP reviewer is a great way to become familiar with the application of solid pedagogical processes and course design. Not only are you trained to do evaluations, you are given a month-long window to execute them, which allows you time for emailing the program directors, your peers, and directly calling them with any questions you may have. It isn’t necessary to come to the reviewer table already an expert in the ECP review process or the ECP rubric (view the rubric here). Whatever you need to be successful in the program will be given to you when you volunteer to be a reviewer.
I thoroughly enjoyed being an ECP evaluator, so much so that I will continue to volunteer as long as they want me. And I think if you have a desire to play a vital role in building a community of practice in e-Learning, this is the route for you, as well. I hope you will join me in the program this year. You have nothing to be afraid of.