ECTC professors receive KOOL Academy Exemplary Certificate recognition | ECTC

ECTC professors receive KOOL Academy Exemplary Certificate recognition

Published on Jun 21, 2022

Dr. Clay Matthews, Associate Professor of English, and Miky Wright, Associate Professor of Mathematics, recently were awarded Certificates of Exemplary Achievement for outstanding course design after participating in the KCTCS Optimizing Online Learning (KOOL) Academy for Hybrid Course Design.

“The KOOL Academy is an online course run through the KCTCS System built around helping instructors improve online courses to meet standards set by the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program (ECP),” said Matthews. “It looks to make sure instructors have solid course design that makes sense for students, allows students to collaborate, is ADA compliant and gives effective assessment methods and adequate learner support of different types.”

The course re-design process starts with self-review and then collaboration with KOOL Academy facilitators. Instructors submit re-designed courses for review to the academy and to Blackboard.

Students in an online-only environment might feel disconnected from other students or their instructor, leaving them feeling isolated and sometimes defeated in learning the material. However, instructors are taking charge to alleviate that issue with courses designed for a collaborative experience with accessible assistance.

Wright has worked to do just that in her course redesign, going beyond providing a link to MyLab, where course curriculum and assignments are completed, but uploading additional aids to help learn the material including videos she recorded herself to help explain complex concepts.

“My online students now stay in Blackboard as all the assignments and materials are directly linked, outlined and explained. This way, they’re more connected to announcements and get instruction from my videos they wouldn’t get if they just completed their work in MyLab like they used to,” said Wright. “I’ve also implemented opportunities for interaction among students with discussion boards.”

Wright said student feedback has been overwhelmingly positive since redesigning her online course.

“The subjects I teach like statistics are often difficult for many students, especially in the online format. However, with opportunities to collaborate with other students for help, tutorial videos, frequent announcements, and directly linked assignments with clear due dates, most of my students report that the course design has helped make a difficult subject more within reach to understand.”

Matthews says committing to improving online course design and function has been a core factor to influencing active learning in his courses.

“These course re-designs are driven to provide opportunities for students to be active with the material, which will make them stronger students, stronger communicators, stronger critical thinkers, will help them with creative responses to things, benefiting them, the workforce, and the community,” said Matthews. “The intentional work teachers put into giving students the best experience possible has far reaching benefits.”

Matthews also cited collaboration among professors across the KCTCS system as a benefit to enrolling in the KOOL academy and thanked facilitators for an effective model to improve instructor and student experiences in the online format.

Matthews also was awarded recognition from Blackboard’s ECP for course design, showing excellence in interaction and collaboration, assessment and learner support. Wright’s award review is pending.