Exemplary Course Program

Are Your Courses Exemplary?

What does it take to create an engaging, effective course? The Anthology Exemplary Course Program (previously the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program, prior to Blackboard's merger with Anthology), with its peer and expert review processes, can provide valuable insights.

The Exemplary Course Program recognizes faculty and course designers whose courses demonstrate best practices in four major areas: Course Design, Interaction and Collaboration, Assessment, and Learner Support. Submitted courses are evaluated by a peer group of Blackboard clients using the Exemplary Course Program Rubric.

Scores and Values in the Exemplary Course Program Rubric

The Exemplary Course Program Rubric uses numerical point values for each standard. These point values (from 1 to 5) have been assigned to indicate the relative importance of that standard, with values of 5 representing compulsory standards. Compulsory standards must be met in order to receive an Exemplary course award.

The 14 compulsory standards are as follows:

  • Goals and objectives are clearly written appropriate for the course level.
  • Content is made available or “chunked” in manageable segments (i.e., presented in distinct learning units or modules)
  • It is clear how the instrucIonal strategies will enable learners to reach course goals and objectives (e.g., instructions or overview of course activities are provided and aligned to course objectives).
  • Course design includes guidance for learners to work with content in meaningful ways (e.g., clear instructions, content outline, video, course orientation) and how to proceed
  • Course design includes guidance for learners to work with content in meaningful ways (e.g., clear instructions, content outline, video, course orientation) and how to proceed.
  • The design and delivery of content supports inclusive pedagogy by integrating alternative options (e.g., transcripts), enabling assistive processes (e.g., voice recognition), and inviting choice to support and engage students with diverse learning needs and preferences.
  • Course files (e.g., documents, PDFs, presentations) use built-in accessibility formatting options to support assisIve technologies (e.g., screen readers, screen magnification).
  • Learners are provided a rubric or scoring guidelines to evaluate participation and interaction.
  • It is clear to learners how performance in an assessment(s) will be evaluated (e.g., rubric, equivalent grading document, section in syllabus).
  • FormaIve and summative assessments occur regularly throughout the course to gauge student success and inform learner progress toward course objectives.
  • Multiple types of assessments are used (e.g., research project, objective test, discussions, etc.).
  • Orientation materials explain how to navigate both the LMS and the course.
  • Contact information for the instructor is easy to find.
  • Course/institutional policies (e.g., decorum, behavior, netiquette) are clear and easy to find.
  • Learners have opportunity to give formative feedback to the instructor regarding course design and content during course delivery.

Course Design addresses elements of instructional design. For the purpose of this rubric, course design includes such elements as structure of the course, learning objectives, organization of content, and instructional strategies.

Interaction and Collaboration can take many forms. The ECP criteria place emphasis on the type and amount of interaction and collaboration within an online environment.

Interaction denotes communication between and among learners and instructors, synchronously or asynchronously. Collaboration is a subset of interaction and refers specifically to those activities in which groups are working interdependently toward a shared result. This differs from group activities that can be completed by students working independently of one another and then combining the results, much as one would when assembling a jigsaw puzzle with parts of the puzzle worked out separately then assembled together. A learning community is defined here as the sense of belonging to a group, rather than each student perceiving himself/herself studying independently.

Assessment focuses on instructional activities designed to measure progress toward learning outcomes, provide feedback to students and instructors, and/or enable grading or evaluation. This section addresses the quality and type of student assessments within the course.

Learner Support addresses the support resources made available to students taking the course. Such resources may be accessible within or external to the course environment. Learner support resources address a variety of student services.

There are 191 total points available in the Exemplary Course Program Rubric. In order to receive an Exemplary course rating, a score of at least 85% must be earned. Ratings of Compelling and Promising will be awarded with scores of 80% and 70%, respectively.

Exemplary 85% (162 points or more)

Compelling 80% (153-161 points)

Promising 70% (134-152 points)

Submitting Your Course for Review

To submit your course for review, you will complete a self-review of your course using the Exemplary Course Program Rubric, provide a narrative describing how your course meets the various criteria, describe three stand-out practices, and provide course access to reviewers that does not contain any student data. In your course, it is suggested that you create a "For the Reviewer" folder where you can add screenshots of any additional evidence of your exemplary course delivery practices.

When you are ready to submit your course for review, download the complete rubric with submission worksheet that you can use to draft your submission narrative. Also, join the Exemplary Course Program Group on the Anthology Community site, from there you can submit your course for review.

For assistance in preparing a version of your course without any student data as well as instructor level access for reviewers, please submit a request for assistance using the Blackboard Ask A Question Form.

Upon receiving reviewer feedback on your course, please notify CITL of the outcome and to have your course added to the list of NIU Blackboard courses recognized for exemplary course design.

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