NIU receives 2012 Blackboard Catalyst Award

Award honors outstanding leaders within Blackboard community

Blackboard Catalyst AwardNIU’s Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center was named a winner of the Blackboard Catalyst Award for Community Collaboration.

Awards recognize community leaders within the Blackboard user community who encourage collaboration, and share advice, insight content and effective practices with fellow educators outside their own institutions.

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards program annually recognizes and honors innovation and excellence in the Blackboard global community of practice, where teachers and learners work every day to redefine what is possible when leveraging technology.

In the case of NIU, the award recognizes the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center’s long history of sharing advice, insight, and best practices with other institutions. The center is a founding member of the SLATE Midwest Blackboard Users’ Group, maintains a website of documentation on teaching with Blackboard  and offers online programs every month which are open to anyone.

Members of the Center also participate in Blackboard’s community programs, including the Blackboard Service Pack 10 Product Development Program, the Blackboard Idea Exchange and NIU’s Blackboard Learn Support Committee that administers Blackboard.

This past year, when NIU was preparing for its most significant upgrade to Blackboard in over a decade, the center developed and executed a comprehensive training and support plan for the campus that resulted in a very smooth transition to the upgraded system. Throughout the upgrade process, the center demonstrated its commitment to collaborating and sharing with other institutions in multiple ways, including creating a website of resources about the upgrade and making six presentations about the upgrade process to members of other institutions.

Numerous institutions have since adopted NIU’s Blackboard upgrade training and support plan and have appreciated NIU’s collaborative spirit in sharing the plan with them.

Jason Rhode and Stephanie Richter

Jason Rhode and Stephanie Richter

“The reaction from the Blackboard community to our training and support plan has been incredibly rewarding,” said Stephanie Richter, instructional technologies coordinator for the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center. “We have learned so much from the community; it only seemed natural to give back.”

“It’s a great honor to receive a Blackboard Catalyst award for a second straight year and is a testament to NIU’s commitment to supporting academic excellence,” said Jason Rhode, assistant director of the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.

“We could not have received this recognition without the support of the Office of the Provost, ITS and faculty users at NIU.”

“We applaud the Blackboard Catalyst Award winners and their accomplishments,” said Ray Henderson, chief technology officer and president of Academic Platforms for Blackboard. “Their work represents some of the most innovative thinking in education today, and offers great models for how technology can help shape an improved education experience. We congratulate the award winners for their leadership, creativity and passion that is clearly evident in their work.”

Given by Blackboard Inc., the award salutes NIU for sharing its successful faculty development initiatives in support of online teaching and learning. Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center staff will be honored alongside the other Community Collaboration Award winners during BbWorld®, Blackboard’s annual user conference to be held in July in New Orleans.

For more information about using Blackboard in a course and to view a schedule of upcoming programs about Blackboard, visit the Teaching with Blackboard website, call (815) 753-0595 or email facdev@niu.edu.

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