BCCC leads state in award-winning online instruction

Published 7:24 pm Monday, November 11, 2019

Three professors at Beaufort County Community College were rewarded for their dedication to superior online course design. Criminal justice professor Crystal Watts, math professor Dr. Kimberly Mullis and music professor Dr. Stacey Russell had courses honored through Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program . Four courses at BCCC have now achieved the award through the online platform, putting Beaufort County Community College’s online courses ahead of all other colleges and universities in North Carolina.

“What sets BCCC apart is our quality of instruction,” said Mullis. “If we design better online courses, we can better serve our students. We strive to offer a superior online experience so students will choose BCCC for their distance learning needs.”

Blackboard is the primary platform for online communication and instruction at BCCC. With most classes having an online component and some classes being exclusively online, how instructors utilize the platform has a significant effect on student success. The awards program recognizes faculty from schools, colleges and universities around the world who develop engaging and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.

Mullis and Russell are both part of the Arts and Science Division, primarily focused on students who plan to transfer to other institutions. Watts is the lead professor for criminal justice technology, one of the most popular programs at the college. BCCC now leads the state in award-winning online courses, with University of North Carolina-Wilmington, Gaston College, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College and Wake Tech having only one or two Exemplary Courses.

Mullis won for her MAT 110 course, “Math, Measurement and Literacy,” Watts won for her course CJC 111, “Introduction to Criminal Justice,” while Russell won for her MUS 110, “Music Appreciation.” Their courses demonstrated excellence in design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. While larger colleges have teams who develop these course materials, each of these professors are the sole creators of the online components of their instruction.

These introductory classes broadly impact students’ success early in their college careers. Many high school students, who are accustomed to taking classes in person, take these classes through dual enrollment programs such as early college high schools or Career and College Promise. Stronger online engagement in these classes will improve student success and help them shape their attitude toward the rest of their college career. In a typical semester, these three courses will benefit up to 325 students.

Certification through Blackboard’s ECP is part of a larger initiative at BCCC to make online education a valuable option for students. The college has a dedicated Blackboard administrator, Kate Purvis, who ensures that online classes run smoothly.

“We want our online students to receive the same rigor and quality of instruction as our traditional students and we are so fortunate to have dedicated faculty who work extremely hard to ensure this level of excellence,” Purvis said.

Faculty have been excitedly working together through the process, opening features in Blackboard to learners in order to create community experiences that resemble seated classes and using Blackboard Collaborate to mimic oral presentations for final exams.

According to Dr. Jay Sullivan, vice president of academic affairs, “Our faculty are committed to the success of all learners, including those that choose to participate in our programs through distance education. Our leadership across the state in ECP awards is a reflection of that commitment and a testimony to the professionalism and passion that our faculty and staff have for the teaching and learning endeavor.”

Information technology professor Robin Lilly was the first BCCC faculty member to be awarded this honor in July of 2018, leading the way for other faculty members.

For 17 years, the ECP has recognized faculty and course designers whose courses demonstrate best practices. Since its founding, thousands of instructors, teachers and designers have used the ECP to evaluate and improve their courses with recognized best practices. To be considered for the honor, applicants must be a user of the Blackboard Learn learning management system. Submitted courses are evaluated by other course developers, instructional designers, teachers and professors using the ECP Rubric.

Mullis, Russell and Watts will be honored alongside other outstanding recipients on the Blackboard website, as well as in the Blackboard Community, a platform where the largest organized network of Blackboard users connect, collaborate and learn from their peers.

To learn more about the Exemplary Course Program, visit www/community.blackboard.com/community/ecp. New students can apply now to take spring classes at BCCC.