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Leading Change: This award recognizes institutions that have developed practices and/or technologies that have had a measurable effect on learning outcomes, student performance, or academic progression. The winners are:


University of Maryland, Baltimore County: Dr. John Fritz, Jack Suess, and Kevin Joseph

UMBC has been seen as a leader in the use of analytics in higher education, particularly through their use of Blackboard's Analytics. At UMBC the use of Bb LMS has been shown to correlate to a student's success in that course. Since 2007, UMBC students earning a D or F were found to have used LMS about 40% less than students who earned a C or higher. To solve the problem of scaling student responsibility for learning, UMBC developed the Check My Activity Tool (CMA). CMA allows students to compare their own level of Blackboard Learn activity to a summary of their peers enrolled in the same course. Further, students can filter the activity levels to that of students who are earning the same, higher or lower grades on specific assignments. CMA’s benefits academic success with students that use the tool being about 1.5 times more likely to earn a C or better final grade than their peers who did not.



Northern Illinois University: Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center

Northern Illinois University has been using Blackboard for over 15 years and as of Fall 2016, 90% of faculty and over 95% of students at the University use Blackboard Learn. Due to its large sphere of influence, NIU uses Blackboard as a tool to support campus-wide change efforts. The administration began to encourage every student to create a portfolio to increase their learning outcomes and retention using Blackboard Portfolio. This high impact practice was implemented to scale throughout the University with over 9,000 portfolios created by 5,294 users. NIU’s implementation has been so successful they have shared their process and resources with 15 other institutions.



Auditoria Superior del Estado de Coahuila, Coahuila, Mexico: Alberto De Leon Gonzalez and Ludivina Leija Rodriguez

In Mexico, the General Law of Government Accounting established national accounting practices to be implemented throughout the country. Blackboard was adopted in 2015 as the platform to provide training on these new universal practices. In order to enforce these changes, two strategies were put in place: to harmonize accounting at a national level and to optimize the process at the state level. The new accounting parameters were conveyed by three separate courses delivered through Blackboard that reached over 100,000 public service participants. This strategy's success allowed for the National Council of Accounting Organization's (CONAC) objective to be achieved. Further, it was achieved extremely efficiently with the use of Blackboard greatly cutting down on expenses including the cost of training/hour and travel expenses by 93%. 



Inter American University of Puerto Rico - Ponce Campus: Dr. Omayra Caraballo-Pagán and Dr. Vilma Colón-Acosta

The Ponce Campus of the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico has made online education an integral part of their university. Approximately 25% of their enrolled students are pursuing one of their 24 online degree programs that range from associate up to doctoral. However, the University has made online courses available to other students with another 50% taking at least one online class during their time. The Ponce Campus has gone above and beyond in integrating online courses as a part of their educational program, creating a more flexible school environment that allows for more people to pursue degrees.


  1. St. Regis School Board, Montana: Charlee Thompson
  2. St. Regis Schools are the first in Montana to embrace an extensive personalized learning model -transforming education and energizing teachers, students and parents across St. Regis. Students who were once disengaged in their classes are now actively engaged in their education and are allowed to work at their own pace to master material, resulting in dramatic gains to test scores. St. Regis is inspiring districts across the state to re-think traditional teaching and learning practices. Their next goal is to push the model down to the lowest elementary levels and to move to an open schedule that provides students with even more independence and control over their education.



Community Engagement: This award recognizes clients who are dedicated to improving student achievement by fostering a connection between school districts, institutions, educators, students, and their communities. The winners are:


Collier County Public Schools, Florida: Greg Turchetta

Collier County Public Schools turned their classroom experts into classroom journalists with a no-cost social media initiative that has changed the culture of the district and has made their entire community integral members of the communication project. The district set out to align its public image with its previously established academic record, using social media to demonstrate the innovative teaching techniques and learning opportunities that take place daily in the classroom. It has given teachers and students a voice to share their learning, and has given parents and community members a new view of their neighborhood schools.




Michigan City Area Schools, Indiana: Betsy Kohn and Steve Koontz

Michigan City Area Schools took a progressive approach to promoting its image in the community with the "College Bound Student of the Day" social media campaign that celebrates both diversity and student success, and features individual student profiles through graduation and beyond. The campaign exceeded its goals to: 1) raise awareness of the district's strong dual credit and AP programs; 2) promote a positive perception of their high school and district as a whole; and 3) showcase their wonderful student diversity, both racially and in college and career plans. Once the campaign launched, Twitter and Facebook lit up - one featured student reaching more than 10,000 hits. The awareness campaign even gained positive feedback from a local watchdog organization for huge savings to parents for dual credit and AP offerings.



University of Manchester Library, Manchester, United Kingdom: Chris Millson, Carlene Barton, Dave Hirst, Kate Reed

The University of Manchester’s Library Widening Participation (WP) service and Widening Access Team have revamped their utilization of Blackboard in order to provide their services to students on a larger scale. This initiative has expanded the scope of influence WP previously had, enabling their services to reach more students than ever before. WP has increased the reach of programs they offer, with one service openly available and accessed in nine different countries so far. By expanding on their geographic barriers and ease of access, the University of Manchester has opened its resources up to be available around the world and increased student engagement with the services.




Teaching & Learning: This award recognizes those who have adopted flexible, distance and online delivery, including using mobile technologies to positively impact the educational experience. The winners are:


Calcasieu Parish School Board, Louisiana: Dr. Sheryl Abshire, Pam Nicholson, Kim Leblanc

Calcasieu Parish School Board recognizes the need for qualified teachers who integrate technology as a tool to improve student achievement. Through a partnership with McNeese State University, their technology department has launched a dual credit program for student teachers that prepares them for the modern classroom. They also answer a calling from the US Department of Education's 2016 Report on Teacher Shortage Areas nationwide, with their expanded early recruitment, enrollment, retention and outreach program for potential teacher candidates. Courses are conducted in Blackboard and in the first years of the program, results are impressive, with nearly 67% of participating students indicating plans to pursue education degrees, many in the critical teacher shortage areas for Louisiana.


Regent’s University London, United Kingdom: Chris Rowell

Regent’s University recognized the importance of integrating technology into the classroom and developed a creative solution for educating lecturers on some of the different types of technology available to them. 12 Apps of Christmas (12AoC) is public online course that covers 12 different apps over the same number of days. This fun and engaging course takes on a Christmas theme and runs much like an advent calendar, with one app being introduced each day with suggestions on how to integrate it into the classroom. This innovative course is informative and requires minimal effort, allowing academics to find time for it with their busy schedules. The class has been a big success, receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews and almost tripling in the number of participants in just 3 years.




Boston University, Massachusetts: Alane Bearder, Elena Garofoli, Leigh Curtin-Wilding, Domenic Screnci, Stephen Quigley

Boston University online graduate class “Visual Communication in Digital Health” beautifully exemplifies what it is trying to teach. This course is part of the university’s visual and digital health communication certificate and focuses on blending the theory of the topics with practical application. This course utilizes Blackboard Learn and the integrated Adobe Connect in order to re-imagine previous online courses. Visual Comm evaluates design fundamental and creative branding concepts and different health communication and literacy practices and goes one step further by applying them through Adobe suite computer workshops. This course takes full advantage of various facets of Blackboard Learn in order to garnish instructor-student interactivity while gaining information and real-life applicable skills. 


Wichita State University, Kansas: Dr. John Perry

Wichita State’s online course offerings have greatly expanded over the past several years. Due to Dr. John Perry’s leadership, there has most noticeably been an increase in online learning within the business college. Perry’s leadership in furthering online education can be seen through the success within his own courses, as well as his efforts to further faculty development and adoption of e-learning. Within his department, his courses garnish 90% more interaction by the students and, in turn, perform at higher levels. Outside of his own courses, Perry is an activist within his department, furthering the online programs that are offered by his department by educating his colleagues. Through his weekly workshops and mentorship, more faculty members have started offering online courses and because of which, the business school has begun to offer three more online undergraduate business degrees. Perry’s actions have widened the scope that his colleagues are able to teach while expanding students opportunities to learn.



Inclusive Education: This award honors those institutions whose methods have ensured their pedagogy, content, technology, and educational services are fully inclusive and supportive of all learners with disabilities. The winners are:


Tarrant County College District, Texas: Dr. Kelvin Bentley, Scott January, Brandy Kelly, Alicia Prather, Kenya Wilson and Cherie Johnson

Tarrant County College used Blackboard in order to track YouTube videos offered across their online courses and reveal to what extent the Youtube videos instructional content aligns with various ADA guidelines and standards. The report from Blackboard showed that the schools Fall 2016 online courses had over 1,300 videos on YouTube, 600 of which lacked captions. Since, Tarrant County has taken steps to caption their videos thus serving as an example of the steps schools can take to ensure that instructional content is fully accessible to all students.





The University of Toledo, Ohio: Dr. Claire Stuve

At the University of Toledo, Dr. Claire Stuve was able to create the university’s first online math course that was made completely accessible to all of her students. Stuve utilized the Blackboard Exemplary Course rubric to create a class that focused on both integrating differentiated instruction and providing accessible course material. This accessibility was accomplished through a variety of channels, such as creating all of the math symbols with Blackboard’s accessible math editor. The course received extremely positive reviews from students with 89% agreeing that they liked the presentation of the content and found the course to be easily accessible. 





Optimizing Student Experience: This award honors those institutions whose educational and administrative innovations have markedly improved the total learner experience. The winners are:


Hostos Community College, New York: Carlos Guevara, George Rosa, David Dos Santos and Aaron Davis

Online classes are becoming extremely prevalent in today’s educational world. At Hostos Community College, 1/7 of the students are currently enrolled in at least one online course. Recognizing what an integral part of online education has become, HCC designed an online course that serves as a tutorial teaching students how to navigate Blackboard. The course has the participants practice using many different aspects of Blackboard’s platform including videos, text, question pools and randomization of questions on quizzes. The courses content includes the different online service tools and sources students can contact for assistance. The course has been successful with over 600 participants, of which 90% agree the course conveyed the necessary information they would need in order to navigate their online classes.




Elon University, North Carolina: Rodney Parks, Terrance Copling, DonnaLynn Hall, Heather Hutchings, Laura Kappert, Gregory McDaniel

Over the past several years, Elon University has taken large steps to create a more identity-inclusive campus to better the lives of its students. In 2016, Elon began to allow students to choose their name within the University system rather than being forced to go by their legal name. This effort was taken to allow LGBTQIA students to have their identity recognized by the school across the board, including on class lists, Mail Services, the Health Center and their Transact student IDs. Prior to these inclusion-oriented services, 17% of students that decided not to attend Elon said their decision was influenced by North Carolina’s H2B law. However, since the enactment of these measures, the LGBTQIA population has doubled and now accounts for 9% of the incoming class.


Norfolk State University, Virginia: Xuemei Li

In 2015, Norfolk State University began a new project to take all of the various help links and troubleshoot pages spread throughout the University sites and condense them all onto one page. NSU’s Blackboard Administrator, Xuemei Li, gathered all of the necessary information and streamlined it to the NSU Resource tab and help page on Blackboard LMS. By using the sub-tab and module features of Blackboard Learn the University was able to place all technical support info, accessibility policies, and academic and student services in one place. This one stop resource page vastly simplifies and betters the lives of students when searching for help. 


Keele University, Staffordshire, United Kingdom: Tim Smale and Sandra Gillham

Keele University greatly values their students’ experience, even before they arrive on campus. The Pre-Arrival Online Induction Program is an online informational hub that students are granted access to as soon as they are accepted to the university. The online portal was created to answer many questions that the incoming students would have while familiarizing them with the key systems that are in place at the University. The Induction Program serves to familiarize the incoming students with Blackboard and the various tools they will be using so that they will not feel completely overwhelmed upon arrival on campus. Starting University is a huge adjustment period for students and Keele has taken steps to make sure the transition is as seamless as possible.



Professional Development: This award recognizes those who use Blackboard programs to support and enhance their faculty and staff’s professional development. The winners are:


Norfolk State University, Virginia: Dr. Dorothy L. R. Jones and the NSU Online Team

Norfolk State understands how reliant 21st century students are on modern technology and the importance of making technology use a part of their education. As a result, NSU launched Project R.E.A.C.H. (Reframing Educational Attitudes and Competencies in Higher Education) in order to educate professors that are not familiar with online learning technology. This multi-step project went above and beyond in teaching faculty members how to effectively use Blackboard Learn and Collaborate Ultra in order to create a modern classroom. By instituting Blackboard Success Coaches (now Digital Faculty Fellows) in each department, creating 30 second advertisements that featured tenured faculty members, sponsoring NSU Online Awards luncheon, and conducting bootcamps and weekly seminars, NSU professors became vastly more adept at using online features. NSU now offers 100 more online classes than before the project and has doubled the number of faculty members qualified to teach an online course.


The University of Texas at El Paso: Cira Montoya, Jesus Presa, Adrian Enriquez, Julio Batiz, Christine Endlich and Hector Gonzales

The University of Texas at El Paso instituted what is known as the Teaching Online Academy (TOA). This installation requires faculty members to pass a four week long course before they are allowed to teach an online class. TOA serves as a tutorial on how to use Blackboard and all of its varying features. However, UTEP goes one step further and sets up TOA as an example of what a quality online course should look like. By focusing on communication and interaction with the students, online classroom management techniques, course mapping and creating fair assessments, the course establishes an effective online classroom. Over 500 professors have passed through the academy, furthering the education of the university’s faculty while expanding the availability of strong online courses for students.


Palliser Beyond Borders, Alberta, Canada: All staff members

As the online teaching and learning community of Palliser Regional Schools, Palliser Beyond Borders has created a powerful professional learning model that incorporates on-boarding, mentorship, professional learning communities, and weekly collaborative training that focuses on student completion and achievement. Quality professional development has led to genuine student success. Over the last three years, Palliser Beyond Borders has grown from 27 to over 680 current students, with an overall high school student completion rate improving vastly in that time frame, from 65% to 97%.



Student Success: This award recognizes individuals and/or institutions whose creative program application has led to increased retention, increased completion, and/or improved outcomes. The winners are:


Coppin State University, Maryland: Dr. Ahmed El-Haggan, Dr. Maria Thompson, Prasad Dodonna and Dr. Dionne Curbeam

Coppin State’s student enrollment has been declining over the past several years. Wishing to reverse this decline, the University decided to democratize its data. By making the data of student’s success public, the entire campus became active partners for HBCU's student success efforts. As a result of this initiative, in Fall 2016 Coppin State University saw a dramatic 50% increase in new student enrollment, expanding the opportunity for many people to receive a higher education.



Wichita State University, Kansas: Lisa Hansen

Due to the desire to increase student satisfaction on campus, Wichita State partnered with Blackboard to create One Stop, a 24/7 student service center. One Stop provides Wichita students with support for various services, including a help desk and retention solutions. The service center is extremely accessible to its students and can be accessed through phone, email, live chat and on-campus visits. The technology integrated into the student center minimizes “runaround” time for the students and efficiently directs them to the correct resource. During One Stops first year, it handled over 44,000 interactions and had a ringing user satisfaction rating of around 90%.



Palliser Beyond Borders, Alberta, Canada: All staff members

Palliser Beyond Borders, the online teaching and learning community of Palliser Regional Schools, is leading the way in education across Alberta and Western Canada, combining exemplary leadership, collaboration and lifelong learning practices to fuel student success. Hand in hand with quality professional development is their ability to inspire students. With consistent course design, an 8-pronged communication plan between students and teachers, teacher training and improved operational systems, Palliser Beyond Borders boasts a high school student completion rate that improved from 65% to 97% in just three years. They've recently gone global with students in Hong Kong, Nigeria and China, and are the model for the complete learning environment.



Buffalo State College, New York:  Dr. John Thompson

Buffalo State’s Computer Fundamentals is an online course offered through Blackboard that teaches students the basic of computers, including Windows and Microsoft Office programs. In today’s developing educational world, computer skills are extremely important and will be beneficial for student’s success in other courses. Dr. Thompson created an engaging and dynamic course that conveyed the necessary information while gaining high levels of student participation. By setting up the online course as a “game”, students were motivated to participate and earn “points” so that they could “level up” and move up on the class “leaderboard”. By “gamifying” the course, Thompson was able to increase student retention, completion, achievement, and satisfaction. Over the three semesters the course was offered, satisfaction rankings rose from a 4.46/5 to a 4.69/5 while featuring a 97% retention rate.



Exemplary Course: This award recognizes faculty and course designers who develop exciting and innovative courses that represent the very best in technology and learning.


  • Hawaii Pacific University:
  • Algonquin College, Ontario, Canada: Dr. Albert Dudley
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Cheryl Kautz
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: Szymon Machajewski
  • Columbia Southern University, AL:
  • Ohio University:
  • Kent State University, OH:




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