Article originally published on E-Learn Magazine on Jan 03, 2018 – Click here for the Spanish version
Academic effectiveness serves as central focus for institutions of higher education across the globe. The pursuit of academic effectiveness drives numerous activities within institutions including, but not limited to the following:
- Creating and delivering high-quality curriculum and instruction
- Meaningful, relevant, and insightful student, program, and institutional assessment practices
- Continuous course, program, and institutional improvement
- Course design and inclusive learning practices
- Ongoing professional development supporting pedagogical best practices
- Inclusive access of course materials
In short, academic effectiveness refers to empowering excellence in teaching and learning.
From leaders, to teachers, to learners, academic effectiveness has a pervasive influence across the entire institution. For an institution to realize its purpose, practices that drive academic effectiveness are crucial.
Today, institutions face several core challenges. As online programs, adjunct professors and large class sizes proliferate, institutions struggle to maintain quality and consistency of their instruction. Additionally, institutions must focus more energy on accreditation and brand reputation with the growth of competency-based education, credentialing, multi-institution students, and online program. And, with stricter legal guidelines, institutions must deliver universal, accessible digital content that improves instruction for all students. By putting the right procedures, training, technology, and metrics in place to empower educators, promote academic integrity and accessibility, institutions can conquer these challenges.
With today’s challenges, learning management systems simply aren’t enough. At Blackboard, we’re building what’s next. Through client collaboration and industry partnership, we’re committed to building a better model for educational technology. It’s a model that puts relationships – between learners, teachers, and academic leaders- first. It’s an idea that teaching and learning experiences will never be one-size-fits-all. It’s a concept that isn’t done, and never will be… and we think that’s a good thing. Because the learning journey is never complete, we’re building a solution that never stops evolving. And, we’re building it together.
Blackboard’s comprehensive digital learning environment is designed to provide the foundation to empower institutions to drive academic effectiveness. The learning environment enables scalable, flexible, accessible course design; specialized assessment; collaboration; plagiarism prevention; and facilitates continuous course improvement.
Creating inclusive learning experiences
To advance academic effectiveness, institutions strive to provide education experiences accessible to all learners. Academic leaders must define and review policies to ensure their technologies and digital content are accessible to all. Instructors need to embrace best practices for accessibility and Universal Design for Learning to create digital content that is accessible. Accessible content is better content for all learners, not just learners with disabilities. The most engaging courses include intuitive design, engaging and interactive experiences, and rich digital content. Students depend on access to alternative forms of digital content to meet their unique needs.
With Blackboard’s digital learning environment, institutions can assess the accessibility of content across the institution and view progress towards inclusivity over time. Within normal workflows, instructors are provided with just-in-time feedback and coaching to nurture best practices for creating inclusive content and remediate accessibility issues with digital content. And, instructors have a full range of rich digital content, tools, and integrations at their fingertips to easily create engaging courses. In Blackboard’s environment, learners have access to multiple alternative formats of digital content, generated by the environment, to meet their unique needs and complement how they learn best. Blackboard offers a fully inclusive and accessible learning environment and alternative content formats to benefit all learners.
Plagiarism prevention and cultivating appropriate attributions
To inspire academic effectiveness, institutions instill respect for the ideas of others, discourage plagiarism, and promote academic integrity. Institutions establish codes of honor and plagiarism prevention policies that translate into higher student retention rates, better prepared students and an improved institutional reputation. With Blackboard’s environment, institutions can implement plagiarism prevention capabilities extending to every learner in every course to both prevent plagiarism and create teachable moments to help learners properly cite their sources and respect intellectual property. With this technology, instructors can nurture appropriate research strategies and help learners find their own voice igniting a passion for learning and original thinking.
Rigorous assessment and efficient grading workflows
To forward academic effectiveness, institutions must hold themselves, instructors, and learners accountable by evaluating institutional and program effectiveness, as well as student learning. Institutions must be able to efficiently evaluate how effective its programs are at delivering specific knowledge and developing skills through demonstrated competencies by students to continuously improve their programs.
Program and student assessments must set the bar with challenging standards to assess the effectiveness of the learning process. Assessments are a critical part of teaching and learning process to help students progress academically. Formative assessments exist to ensure students understand the material, have a strong grip on the subject, or have developed the appropriate skills. Summative assessments exist to ensure students can demonstrate the required competency levels. Teachers must ensure assessments are authentic and truly measure students’ abilities and comprehension, regardless of the form.
In Blackboard’s comprehensive environment, institutions can evaluate learning outcomes at the institutional, program, or individual learning level. Blackboard simplifies continuous course and program improvement and provides evidence for program assessment. Blackboard’s intuitive, efficient, and consistent grading workflows save instructors time and improve grading quality. Instructors can easily provide personalized feedback to improve student learning in less time. Blackboard technology eases the tedium of grading and improves learning outcomes.
Nurture digital collaboration and social skills critical for today’s economy and academia
Without question, digital collaboration and netiquette skills are critical for employment success in today’s world, continuing within academia, and pursuit of a professional degree. To further academic effectiveness in this area, institutions must nurture these skills to prepare learners for what lies ahead, regardless of path. With Blackboard, learners and instructors can collaborate anywhere, anytime, from any device. Any instructor, regardless of technical saavy, can “flip” their lesson or whole class with Blackboard’s digital learning environment that enables simple lesson recording and publishing within the course experience in a mobile friendly format.
Instructors can then spend more time making their face-to-face time with students more engaging and interactive spending precious class minutes on productive discussion, applying concepts, and coaching learners on the more difficult parts of the material. Additionally, institutions, can extend reach by providing virtual office hours and counseling for students, conducting town hall meetings virtually, and engaging with alumni virtually. With Blackboard, institutions can extend campus reach, increase student engagement, nurture collaboration, and provide greater access to instructors.
In pursuing academic effectiveness with Blackboard’s digital learning environment, institutions empower educators, promote academic integrity, and create inclusive learning experiences increasing student engagement and improving learning outcomes.
Photos by: Illustration Triibu Studio