By John Bourke, Educational Designer, Griffith University (Brisbane, Australia)

Blackboard_client_success_logo_1It’s official: the 2009 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP) is underway.  I know some readers of Blackboard Blogs are considering the idea of submitting a course for review by the program, so I thought I’d try to inspire the instructors and course developers among you to take the plunge, commit some time and submit a course!

For me, the ECP is a fantastic program with the worthy aim of identifying and sharing best practices in engaging online course design.  I’ve been honored to be part of the program as a director, and I find myself becoming more passionate about the program, exemplary course design and the idea of sharing best practices in online course design with the community.

Let me give you a closer look at why you should submit a course to the ECP.

For starters, and rather importantly, you will spend quality time reflecting on your course because built into the ECP nomination process is a comprehensive self-evaluation exercise using the ECP rubric.  Make no mistake: this is not something to be taken lightly, as there are over 50 criteria, covering course design, interaction, and collaboration, assessment and learner support. In addition, you will need to provide anecdotal and visual evidence to support your evaluations.  The immediate benefits are obvious; for instructors and course developers, this is a valuable and rare opportunity to undertake a reflective, self-evaluation of their course.

Additionally, all courses submitted to the ECP receive detailed peer-reviewed feedback.  This feedback is prepared by a panel of your peers who volunteer their time and expertise to review your course against the rubric criteria and your evidence.  Their comments become an informed snapshot of your course and provide a picture, a perspective, a judgment on your course that will prove invaluable to any course review and improvement process.

For me, the reviewers’ contributions are a very special part of the ECP and one which truly capture the international sense of community and sharing that the ECP strives to attain.  Rest assured, Blackboard and the ECP take your privacy concerns very seriously.

Further, the ECP provides an avenue for instructors and course developers to gain recognition and reward at both an international and institutional level.  Yes, the ECP is an international program and you have the chance to have your course showcased in front of your peers in an international arena!  And think of the value in adding such an award to your professional portfolio.

Finally, the ECP works!  This can be seen from the exemplary courses that are being identified, from the responses we get from our winners and from the anecdotal feedback from the community.  Visit to learn more about the program, to view a showcase of previous winners and to meet the ECP directors.  You can also download the ECP 2009 submission form and the ECP 2009 submission form example while you’re there.

So come on!  Take the plunge, and submit a course!  The rewards are there, and I assure you, you will not be disappointed.

On behalf of the 2009 ECP directors, I wish you all the best in your online learning and teaching endeavors.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact

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