Beyond the Bells and Whistles – Exemplary Courses and Best Practices

Professor Cheryl Kautz talking about course design strategies that she used in her Exemplary Course.

Tess Bader
Instructional Technology Coordinator, Colorado State University Global Campus

Chris Duke
Director of Curriculum and Assessment, San Jacinto College, Adjunct Faculty, Lone Star College Cy-Fair

Deborah Everhart
Chief Architect, Blackboard Learn

Lyndon Godsal
Instructional Designer, University of Miami School of Nursing and Health Studies

Cheryl Kautz
Adjunct Professor, Grand Rapids Community College

Session Description
Join the Directors, reviewers, and winners of Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program (ECP) as we focus on the importance of pedagogical best practices. We will discuss the design and teaching principles behind the ECP rubric; the impact of exemplary courses on the student experience; and how the ECP and its rubric can be used for individual course improvement, faculty training, and professional development. Several of this year’s ECP winners will demonstrate best practices in their winning courses.


  • Over 150 courses were submitted this year in the Exemplary Course Award Program
  • The program uses a rubric on course design, interaction, assessment, and learner support.
  • Colorado State
    • Uses Bb Collaborate for live sessions and sessions are archived.
    • Students are given feedback on their work through
    • Uses a module approach that includes media for lectures (written narrative, podcasts, videos embedded).  The videos have a transcript.
    • Check your understanding (ungraded) and mastery exercises (Bb quizzes of 10 questions) are used for formative assessment.  StudyMate is used for quick quizzes for ungraded assessment.
  • GRCC – Cheryl Kautz
    • Projects – Weekly folders include lecture and homework projects and resources.  Links are also included to previous student work as examples and to set expectations.  Manageable segments are consistent and variety of media. Camtasia is used for the video.  Each week has a help link that provides tutorial resources for learning the skills.  There are detailed instructions and screen shots that give extra support.  FAQs are also available and have been acquired over a number of years.
    • Interactive Rubrics – These are available in several places in the course.  Students can print the rubric that is required/used for project reviews.   The interactive rubrics are used from the grade center and are used to assess work and the score is saved automatically included in the gradebook.  This has been a huge time saver.
    • Rubric resources are available here: user/pass: bbw77
    • Tour available here.
  • San Jacinto College – Chris Duke
    • “ACAdemic” = Active / Collaborative / Authentic is a design philosophy for the course.
    • Uses dashboard announcements – used for curated content as much as the rest of the course.  Announcements are copied and reused each semester.
    • Chris uses a required and recommended approach for some of the content.  This gives them a filter and manage their time without being overwhelmed.
    • Modules > Objectives and content is sequential and varied.
    • Task list in Angel is used and helps students and guides them through due dates.
    • Automatic notifications help broadcast his presence in the course.  If students are not logging in, the students will get an email.
    • Links to “real world” websites such as HP, Microsoft, etc.
  • University of Miami – Lyndon Godsall
    • Consistency, communication, and appropriateness is key.
    • Units and learning modules were used in the design.  A unit reflects a week.
    • Communication was important too.  Collaborate, discussion boards, wikis, and blogs were used.
    • Multimedia was used with a focus on appropriateness – a purpose of use.
    • Learning modules were used for consistency.  Includes objectives, to do lists, reading, discussion board, seminar, additional resources, video, summary, powerpoint, and archived seminar from Bb Collaborate.
    • Video was custom and edited in house and uploaded to Vimeo.
    • Discussion boards were used in every unit to enable communication for peer to peer and teacher to student communication.
    • Wikis were used and students enjoyed contributing to the group wikis which was an additional mode of communication and vehicle for sharing ideas.
    • A class photo roster was beneficial since the students were never going to meet since it was an online class.  Created a feeling of connection among other students.
    • Bb Collaborate provided a way to hold online seminars to enhance student communication and allow them to communicate back in real time.  These sessions were archived.  The instructors used the polling function to keep the seminar interesting.

About ekunnen
Eric has a passion for, works to lead, support, and coordinate effective uses of technology in teaching and learning. He is an Associate Director of eLearning and Emerging Technologies at Grand Valley State University (GVSU) in Allendale, Michigan. His primary role focuses on collaborating and supporting distance learning initiatives at the university while exploring future trends in emerging technologies in teaching and learning. He also collaborates to research and support academic technologies used in the classroom and in eLearning. Previously, Eric was the Emerging Technologies Coordinator at GVSU and a Director of Distance Learning and Instructional Technologies at Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Eric has a background in teaching Computer Science and Biology at the secondary level and a Master of Arts in Education with an emphasis in Educational Technology. I'm on mission to advance teaching and learning through the integration of emerging and innovative instructional technologies... More

One Response to Beyond the Bells and Whistles – Exemplary Courses and Best Practices

  1. Pingback: GRCC at BbWorld12 « GRCC BbWorld Conference Blog

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