The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program: What’s In It For You?


With hectic schedules and work/life demands, before we agree to another activity or program we often ask, “What’s in it for me?” It’s a question I often ask myself to help prioritize my time and efforts. The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, designed for instructors, trainers, teachers, professors, lecturers and anyone else that creates or teaches courses, has many offerings that can help you with the question of “what’s in it for me?”.

What is the Exemplary Course Program (ECP)?

The ECP began in 2000 with the goal of identifying and disseminating best practices for designing high quality courses. The core of the program is the Exemplary Course Program Rubric, which defines key characteristics of high quality courses within the framework of four main areas and 17 sub-categories.The Rubric was developed by leaders in instructional design and based on 100+ years of their collective practice and expertise. The Rubric is reviewed and updated annually by clients and Blackboard experts who survey the current literature and base changes on the evolving field of best practices. The Rubric is offered under a Creative Commons license, and we encourage you to reuse and remix it as part of your own institution’s discussion on quality course design.

Who Can Participate in the ECP?

Blackboard Learn (both original and Ultra experience) and Blackboard Open LMS clients can submit their courses any time throughout the year for peer course review, and there is no charge for participation. For each course submitted, three volunteer peer reviewers conduct a thorough course review, closely following the Rubric, within a 3-4 week timeframe.

What Are the Benefits of Participating?

There are three ways to participate in the Exemplary Course Program. Each has its own set of benefits.

Submit your course for self-review. You will have the opportunity to:

  • Reflect on your own design through self-review of your course
  • Increase professional development via self-review
  • Gain new perspectives and insights on your course through the Rubric
  • Apply lessons learned from the Rubric to courses you develop

Submit your course for peer-review. You will have the opportunity to:

  • Increase professional development via the ECP Cohorts and peer reviews
  • Gain new perspectives and insights on your course through a structured peer review process
  • Receive detailed feedback on your course from peer reviewers, including best practices and areas for improvement
  • Apply lessons learned from the course reviewers to courses you develop
  • Learn from and network with your peers

Volunteer to review courses. You will have the opportunity to:

  • Explore a variety of courses and topics
  • Get inspiration for your own courses
  • Apply lessons learned from the program and Rubric to courses you develop
  • Share your knowledge and experience by providing feedback on other course designs

Here’s what three of your peers, who are Exemplary Course Winners, have to say about ECP:

Are There Additional Professional Development Opportunities?

Two times per year, we provide ECP Cohorts with five free 60-minute webinars. The webinars cover each exemplary characteristic from the Rubric, provide best practice examples, course tours by Exemplary Course Winners, and presenters walk you through building an exemplary course within a live Blackboard Learn environment. We conclude the series with a bonus Course Reviewer Training presented by two active reviewers for people interested in becoming a volunteer peer reviewer.

What Happens If My Course Is Deemed Exemplary?

This is an exciting and notable achievement for you—and we love to celebrate and share your success.

As soon as your course is rated exemplary by at least two of the three reviewers, you are notified via email, and receive a certificate of achievement along with an e-badge. We ask you to provide us with three contacts at your institution that you would like our Chief Client Officer to notify of your achievement – such as your institution’s President, Provost, Senate Faculty President, etc. Next, we reach out to your institution’s Marketing/Communications Dept. with a press kit so they can share your good news. Then, at either an on-site celebration at your institution, or at our annual user conference—BbWorld in July—we recognize your achievement and present you with an engraved glass award.

I hope I have convinced you of the value of this program!

Looking for a way to get your feet wet and learn more? The best way for you to get involved in the Exemplary Course Program is to register to be a reviewer. With over 60 courses in draft getting ready for submission, we are currently recruiting course reviewers. Volunteer here.

Lastly, we are offering an ECP Cohort starting in March. You won’t want to miss it! Register here.

Have questions? Reach out to our team at and we’ll get you the answers you need!