EKU Course Developers Receive Prestigious Course Design Award

Two EKU employees are being recognized for their efforts in online course design. Scott Townsend, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and Jennifer Perkins, EKU Online instructional designer, have received a Blackboard Catalyst Award in Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program, which recognizes faculty and course designers from schools, colleges and universities worldwide who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

In addition to the Catalyst Award, the course, “Trends in Science Education,” was named a Directors’ Choice for Courses with Distinction, an honor awarded to a select group of courses that stand out from the other winning entries.

While Perkins strives for excellence in all her course designs, from the start she saw significant potential within this course to leverage technology and move it to the next level.

“Scott is a great instructor and had a lot of interesting things he wanted to accomplish,” said Perkins, who worked to pair his ideas with technology that would aid and augment his goals. “He was very willing to try new things and step outside his comfort zone.”

This course has particular significance for Townsend, as it is designed to prepare educators for the Kentucky Core Academic Standards for Science, known nationally as the K-12 Next Generation Science Standards, set to take effect in the fall.

“These standards will be a big change. I wanted a course that was interactive, hands-on and allowed my students to focus on their coursework, rather than learning how to navigate the course itself,” said Townsend.

Selection as a Blackboard Catalyst Award winner is the realization of this team’s efforts to provide students with a first-class education. 

“Being selected for this award reinforces the quality of the work we are doing,” said Perkins. “It helped me to see just how good a course can be when you have great collaboration between instructors and designers.”

Townsend echoes Perkins’s sentiment. “This project showed me how good use of technology can make a course better,” said Townsend. “The modules are so fluid and interactive, I’m seeing heavier participation from students I know would be more reserved in other classroom settings.”

As to the award’s implications beyond this course, “I feel like this raises the bar for us as designers and instructors, and can serve as a guidepost not only to let us see what was done right, but what could be improved,” said Perkins.

Townsend hopes this award will spur other faculty’s interest in the types of technology they can implement and how it can make a good course even better. “I would tell faculty not to be intimidated about putting together an online course,” said Townsend. “It was an enjoyable experience and the Instructional Development Center is a goldmine of information and very helpful.”

Perkins and Townsend will be honored alongside other Blackboard Catalyst Award winners during BbWorld®, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held in July in Las Vegas.

Published on May 27, 2014