Mark Wilcock is a Learning Technology Development officer at Edge Hill University.

I am fortunate in that being a Learning Technology Development Officer at Edge Hill University allows me to work frequently with peers and academics who are engaged in online learning and push the boundaries of new pedagogical ideas.

This year I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating closely with my colleagues to support and oversee our institutions’ debut submission of courses to the 2013 Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP). Prior to the 2013 program commencing I was aware that some of our academics were considering the idea of submitting their courses for review, so with some internal promotion and the introduction to the Blackboard ECP Rubric, we set out to inspire our academics to take the plunge and commit to submitting their courses.

The program itself is designed to help foster best practices and in the first step of the process I asked our academics to self-evaluate their own courses using the very comprehensive ECP rubric. The ECP rubric recommends best practices and gave our tutors the ability to effectively asses the standard of their course and reveal areas of strength as well as identifying any weaknesses where their design may have fallen short. Make no mistake, this is not something to be taken lightly as the ECP rubric criteria covers areas such as course design, interaction, collaboration, assessment and learner support. The immediate benefits where obvious; for our academics, this was a valuable and rare opportunity to undertake a reflective, self-evaluation of their course.

Unfortunately this year we didn’t win an award, but we did come close by collecting the ‘Exemplary’ stamp of approval on a number of key areas from the majority of the reviewers.  Each one of our submitted courses received highly detailed, peer-reviewed feedback once the program had finished.  This feedback was prepared by a panel of reviewers who volunteer their time and expertise to review our courses against the ECP rubric and the evidence we provided.  Each of the comments we received where a well-informed snapshot of each course and has provided an invaluable perspective and ideas for improvement.

The ECP is a fantastic program with the worthy aim of identifying and sharing best practices in engaging online course design. By using the rubric to review our courses it has internally enriched our institutions baseline courses, which in return has given our students an improved learning experience. Participating in the program I have developed a greater knowledge of theoretical concepts in exemplary course design, which have been shared with my colleagues here at Edge Hill University.

Already we have begun work on next year’s submissions by enrolling in the July 2013 Blackboard Exemplary Course Cohort to gain more insight on the areas we needed further development.   With new ideas and lessons to be learnt from the upcoming Exemplary Course Cohort and the development of elements from our ECP feedback we will return to showcase even stronger examples of exemplary courses from Edge Hill University in 2014. If you are considering submitting to the ECP program next year, I highly recommend enrolling on the July 2013 Exemplary Course Cohort the rewards are highly valuable, and I can assure you will not be disappointed. You can sign up for the cohort here.

On a final note, I’d would like to congratulate those who will receive their exemplary course awards in July at the BbWorld 2013 conference and hope you all have an absolutely fantastic time in Vegas.

Mark joined Edge Hill University in 2004 and has served in various IT support, development and engineering roles within the institution before taking up his current position. He has been involved in developing and supporting e-learning and the use of other technologies in teaching and learning. This includes advising academic staff in ways in which they can effectively incorporate the use of technology into their learning facilitation, teaching and student support systems. Prior to joining Edge Hill University, Mark was responsible for server support and improvement initiatives at British newspaper and magazine publisher, Trinity Mirror plc.  Mark holds a Bachelor of Science honours degree in Computing & Information Systems from Edge Hill University and is also a Microsoft Certified Technology Specialists (MCTS) in Windows server infrastructure, security and Active Directory.

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  • Chris Jones

    I participated in this years ECP at Edge Hill University.I found that the act of applying for the programme helped to shape my thinking about course structure and design. The feedback from the course evaluators was very useful too. Its good to see ourselves as others see us every now and again!

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  • Maria Eugenia Perez

    Hi, I was wondering if you can point me to a source that talks about the validity and reliability of the ECP rubric. Best wishes.