Designing an Exemplary Online Course: Blackboard Announces Open Online Course to be Offered

Let's build a better education experience

Blackboard has announced a new open online course “Designing an Exemplary Course,” as part of the CourseSites Open Course Series. The course will run from September 26th – October 17th, 2012. Registration is free and opens Wednesday, September 19th.

Whether you are just getting started or are an advanced online educator, this course will provide you with a framework to help identify and apply best practices for designing engaging online courses.

You will learn from 11 instructors and instructional designers including distinguished Exemplary Course Program (ECP) Directors and several of the 2012 ECP winners. Using the Blackboard ECP Rubric as a guide, the course will focus on the four critical elements of a course: design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support.

You will have the opportunity to participate in weekly live, online sessions, learn with peers in focus groups, and complete optional assignments to aid your course development and improvement. A panel of course design experts will facilitate each group to provide you with valuable feedback.

The learning environment will offer learners the flexibility to choose their own learning outcomes and time commitments based on individual needs. To maximize benefits of participation, optional homework assignments will be provided each week to apply concepts to build out one’s own course structure and materials. The course will provide a framework for forming collaborative teams.

For more details or to sign-up to be notified when registration opens, click here.

Instructional Design Coordinator Position at NIU

The NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center is seeking an Instructional Design Coordinator to join the Center staff.

Primary Responsibilities:

  • Keep current with present and emerging distributed learning systems and distributed learning pedagogies.
  • Offer high-level individual and group consultations on instructional design and course transformation suitable for distributed learning.
  • Design, develop, and deliver programs on distributed learning tools and techniques for faculty, teaching staff and teaching assistants.
  • Design and develop quick guides, informational materials, and tutorials on distributed learning techniques.
  • Assist faculty and academic units with developing distributed learning programs’ quality related policies and procedures, and implementation strategies.
  • Represent the Center in meetings with academic and support units at NIU and other institutions on issues related to learning management systems, distributed learning, etc.
  • Collaborate with Center staff on various programs, resources and services offered by the Center.
  • Work closely with the Director on various activities related to the mission of the Center as assigned.


  • Master’s degree in education, instructional technology or related fields is required. Doctoral degree or experience in teaching in a higher education environment is preferred.
  • At least 1-year experience with learning management systems and online pedagogies suitable for a higher education environment is required.
  • Knowledge of instructional design principles, pedagogical techniques, and use of instructional technologies suitable for online teaching is required.
  • Experience in designing, developing, maintaining and delivering educational tutorials in multiple media format for a higher education audience is required.
  • Ability to work closely with clientele at various academic units to assess distributed teaching, learning and related needs, and find effective solutions to address those needs is required.
  • Excellent communication skills, planning and organizational abilities, problem solving skills, and ability to work collaboratively and collegially in a team environment is required.
  • Experience in using Windows, Mac, office productivity tools, online teaching tools, and social networking tools for teaching purposes is required.
  • Ability to research online teaching, curricula, and online quality related policies and procedures, and assist academic units with those policies and procedures is preferred.

For more information or to apply, please visit

Honored to Accept 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Award on Behalf of My NIU Colleagues at BbWorld 2012

One of the many highlights for me from BbWorld 2012 was to accept on behalf of all the colleagues I work with at NIU, the 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Community Collaboration. This award recognizes leaders within the Blackboard user community who encourage collaboration, and share advice, insight, content, and effective practices with fellow educators outside their own institutions.

Accepting the award from Ray Henderson
Accepting the 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Award from Ray Henderson, President and Chief Technology Office, Blackboard

Our center was recognized for its long history of collaborating with others in the support of teaching with technology, sharing advice, insight, and best practices. This was the second year in a row our Center was recognized with a Blackboard Catalyst Award, with last year’s award being for excellence in professional development.

I am indeed blessed to work with an amazing team of colleagues at NIU and look forward to the future as we together we continue to make every effort at being “catalysts” in support of the the teaching mission of NIU.

Like Dr. Jason Rhode? Get Connected on Facebook

Jason Rhode, Ph.D. on Facebook
I’ve made a few tweaks to my Facebook page and moving forward, plan to be more intentional about making sure my Facebook page includes the same content and updates that I post more regularly to my blog.

So, if you prefer to keep in touch via Facebook, please go ahead and like my Facebook page. I look forward to hearing from you, via whatever social platform you prefer 🙂

2012 SLATE Conference at NIU Naperville – Call for Proposals Open, Deadline July 20th

SLATE Celebrating 10 Years
The 10th Annual SLATE Conference will be held on October 11-12, 2012. For the first time, this year the conference will be held at NIU Naperville and allow for an expanded number of sessions, including hands-on technology sessions!

My colleagues from NIU Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center are providing logistical support for the conference and look forward to participating in the conference, having already submitted several presentation proposals.

This conference has become a premier event in the Midwest and has attracted participants from around the world in higher-ed, K-12, government, and the corporate sector. Realizing that everyone has the same challenges and issues (no matter the platform) this conference reaches out to institutions and individuals that are using and supporting technology and web-based teaching tools tools such as Blackboard’s family of products. Here is your opportunity to share your experiences and expertise with friends and colleagues and learn from each other.

Call for Papers

Submissions are invited for presentations, panel discussions, or working group activities (now through July 20, 2012) which can cover a broad range of topics that relate to best practices, innovative, engaging, and pedagogically sound uses of technology in teaching and learning, etc. The conference theme of “build it better,” hopes to ask the next question, explore new possibilities, and develop sound models that can be implemented in online, distance education, and classroom instruction. If you have an idea for a panel discussion and need some help in getting people together, contact the conference coordinator, Ken Sadowski, and he can help to connect you to others who may have already expressed similar ideas.

Some of the topics presented in past conferences included:

  • Using Podcasting to Meet the Needs of Millennial Students
  • Platform-Independent Course Design
  • Teaching Writing Using Blogs and Wikis
  • Student GPA and Course Delivery Methods
  • Using Technology Tools to Ensure Faculty Success
  • Online Assessment Strategies
  • Using Your CMS as a Retention Tool

More detailed information can be found at the following:

Key Dates

Initial Call for Proposals: May 11, 2012
Submission Deadline: July 20, 2012
Notification of Paper Acceptance: August 3, 2012
Conference dates: October 11-12, 2012

If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact:

Ken Sadowski
SLATE Conference Coordinator
cell: 708.744.9448