Guest post from Dan Lake.

Creators of online learning courses, whether professional designers or practicing instructors, are always looking for professional development materials and for good models of practice upon which to base their own efforts. Blackboard.com has created nice tutorial materials at the On Demand Learning Center. Here one can watch a series of narrated tutorials grouped into three categories:

  • Understanding  the Blackboard environment and Building a Course;
  • Communicating and Collaborating; and
  • Assessing Learners.

All this material is arranged neatly and in short segments so one can easily learn the functions of the tools provided by the Blackboard Learn system.  These materials provide primary tutorial content as well as models for creating localized materials. While these tutorials provide training “how-tos,” course developers and instructors seek behind-the-scenes views of good, authentic online learning courses and the ability to contact the people who created them. To this end, Blackboard supports the Exemplary Course Program.  The program provides two major elements:

  1. model rubric that can be employed by anyone wanting to judge the quality in an online learning environment; and
  2. a cadre of reviewers who use this rubric to give unbiased and professional responses to instructors and developers wishing to know the quality of their work.

A key outcome of this program is the collection of Exemplary Courses that have been identified by the cadre of reviewers. The collection answers the need for educators to actually see what a good course might look like.  Most selections in the collection contain materials not able to be viewed when the course sites were active.  This content is often accompanied by narrated or print materials provided by the instructors and/or developers, much like a DVD movie might have “extras” added to the content.  In the collection an instructor can view that which is usually hidden, and have the added benefit of knowing that what is seen is judged as being good work by other professional educators. If, after reviewing the quality of the materials posted, you wish to join the project as a course submitter, you can do so until January 25th.   You can become part of the community of professional contributors concerned with the quality of their own work and, who knows, maybe add your site to a future edition of the collection! Please join us!! Visit our website for more information about the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, to download the Exemplary Course Rubric or the 2011 Exemplary Course Submission form.

Dan Lake is a Blackboard Exemplary Course Director on resources for course designers

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