Wayne State University

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Geralyn Stephens Wins Prestigious Blackboard Award

In April 2012, Geralyn Stephens, Ed.D., assistant professor - clinical for Career and Technical Education, received the Blackboard Catalyst Award for the Exemplary Course Program (ECP) from the Blackboard Corporation. To underscore the importance of this award – which honors individuals who extend the boundaries of their educational programs and use of technology to provide innovative and effective learning experiences to their higher education students – Dr. Stephens has been called upon to provide Blackboard training for WSU faculty as part of her assignment by WSU Provost Ronald Brown for the university’s Office of Teaching and Learning.

Blackboard’s ECP is an international, peer-reviewed competition that recognizes instructors whose courses demonstrate best practices in four major areas: Course Design, Interaction and Collaboration, Assessment and Learner Support.  A standards rubric is used to rate the courses in these categories. Courses submitted for review can be either all web-based or blended courses in which face-to-face class meetings are included in online instruction delivery.

There were 151 submissions from institutions around the world for the 2012 competition. Dr. Stephens’ online course, History and Principles of Career and Technical Education, was among the 37 ECP winners.  Her course was evaluated by two reviewers who have content knowledge and expertise in the area of Career and Technical Education.

Nationally, the number of online courses available for post-secondary students increases every year, with some estimates indicating that online enrollment at higher education institutions is growing at ten percent annually compared to a two percent growth for on-campus course enrollments. Additionally, over 6.1 million higher education students were enrolled in at least one online course during the fall 2010 term. Dr. Stephens notes that although there is a proliferation of online course offerings, the factors and criteria used to determine teaching effectiveness are most often subjective.  And, there is seldom an opportunity for peer review and critique. The Blackboard Exemplary Course Program is designed to address this issue.

To see a video on the award presentation to Dr. Stephens, please click here. Winners from other prestigious Carnegie I Research Universities included faculty from the University of Pittsburgh, University of New Mexico, and University of Miami.  A complete list and short videos of all the 2012 ECP winning courses.

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