2018 Catalyst Winners

Document created by eschramke on Jun 26, 2018Last modified by sherynanthes on Jul 13, 2018
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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:

  • Kettering University: Kettering Global - Kettering University Online
    • Dr. Christine Wallace joined Kettering University in 2014 to initiate and lead online and distance learning opportunities. Through Dr. Wallace’s vision, innovative strategies and leadership, Kettering’s online graduate program has grown by 150% and expanded to 38 states and 11 countries in three years.
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver: MSU Denver Instructional Design Team (Jeff Loats, Alex McDaniel, Taylor Kendal, Dennis Smith, Sarah Debbek, Adrienne Christy, and  Todd Wolfe)
    • The Metropolitan State University of Denver created the Agile Instructional Design Network (AIDNet) and Course Design Xchange (CoDeX) to meet the growing demands of online and hybrid education. The AIDNet framework has acted as a catalyst for institutional change and has benefited the university from a cultural perspective, such as their employee satisfaction and collaborative potential. Students ultimately experience the greatest impact; while consistency and course design quality flow across the university, student satisfaction and ultimately retention have followed suit. 
  • California State University, East Bay: Office of the Online Campus
    • California State University East Bay implemented a quality assurance initiative to establish a QA culture on campus. They are seeking to double the amount of quality certified courses within the next year, and more than 400 grants have been completed and over 150 faculty have completed quality assurance related workshops that resulted in certification.
    • CSU East Bay Catalyst Award Story
  • Prince Sattam University: Dr. Tahani Aldosemani & Dr. Abdullah Albahdal
    • Prince Sattam University implemented a program to train female instructors to train other female instructors at their various colleges on their eLearning platform.The goal of this program was to provide female students and instructors, especially in remote locations, increased access to Blackboard via special support, training courses and workshops.

    • Prince Sattam University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Virginia Commonwealth University: Division of Strategic Enrollment Management
    • The Virginia Commonwealth University teamed with Blackboard to manage their financial aid accounts. VCU now has a base of data upon which they can form relevant new questions about their contact effectiveness, and created a way to augment the standard contact center data with their local student enrollment data store. VCU ultimately achieved a way for students and their support networks to spend less effort trying to get answers to their student financial questions and more time engaged in their educational pursuits.
  • University of Northampton: Learning Technology Team
    • Over the past four years, the Learning Technology team at the University of Northampton have been supporting an institution-wide curriculum change project to transform traditional teaching and learning to a new approach they call ‘Active Blended Learning’. After the program was implemented, modules taught in this format grew from 51% to 94%.


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

  • Vestavia Hills City Schools, Alabama: Youth Leadership Vestavia Hills
    • Student leaders at Vestavia Hills High School in Alabama have become change agents for their community. With a tagline "Be The Difference," the 600-student Youth Leadership Vestavia Hills program has instilled a positive and inclusive school spirit across the student body, in part through their Blackboard powered student mobile app.
  • Fremont School District 79: FSD79 Staff
    • At Fremont School District 79 in Illinois, the community banded together to turn a "selfie" climate into a culture of caring and kindness, in and outside the classroom. By providing students with a constant stream of outreach opportunities aimed at making a positive difference in other people's lives, the district realized a 25% drop in disciplinary issues and a substantial reduction in reports of bullying.

  • University of Leeds: Learning Technologies Team
    • In 2017 Leeds launched a new portal which combined their VLE with their most used campus tools. The portal allowed students and staff instant access to module content, core teaching and learning information and other University 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:

  • Capella University: FlexPath 2.0 Project Team
    • Capella University implemented FlexPath in 2013, which is a unique program that provides learners a pathway to accomplish competencies in a personalized manner. Together with Blackboard Professional Services, a FlexPath-specific course room was created. This provides the learner an opportunity to put these competencies into practice immediately to enhance student outcomes.
  • Davidson Academy, Nevada: Stacy Hawthorne and Jessica Potts, PhD
    • In launching the first full-time online high school for profoundly gifted students across the US, The Davidson Academy has made an exemplary education accessible to students nationwide through an innovative online model centered around Blackboard Learn.

  • George Mason University, Virginia: David Miller and Larisa Olesova
    • George Mason University implemented an online course initiative, COMM 380, that followed the key principles of two learner-centered approaches: flexible learning and experiential learning. The significance of this initiative is that this asynchronous online course was able to modify both approaches as the method of online instruction.
    • George Mason University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Montana Digital Academy: Mike Agostinelli, Robert Currie, and Jason Neiffer
    • Montana Digital Academy successfully rebuilt a new learner-focused credit recovery program that has resulted in nearly 5000-semester credits recovered by Montana students statewide, a 91% satisfaction rating among participating students and a positive impact on graduation rates across the state. Through continued design developments to their Moodlerooms-based program, the MTDA team continues to revolutionize the delivery of credit recovery.

  • Mayo Clinic: Andre Lapeyre, III, MD, Jerry Donney, Stacy Craft, Jennifer Mears, Kelley Sandvik, Kurt Simon, Tammy Simpkins, and Victoria Staifer, Dr. David Farley and the Farley Innovative Research Surgical Team
    • Dr. Lapeyre uses online assessments in Blackboard Learn to deliver immediate feedback to Cardiology Fellowship trainees and save time on grading. Dr. Lapeyre has demonstrated the practical value of blending learning assessment to solve a challenge that could not be resolved without the robust capabilities of Learn assessment resources. His solution has resulted in the expansion of students’ access to valuable clinical education.
    • Dr. Farley uses Blackboard Learn and the Blackboard App to drive collaboration and interaction at his Simulation Center sessions. Dr. Farley has succeeded in uniting real-world assessment with real-time assessment techniques together with mobile learning capabilities and student engagement principles.
    • Mayo Clinic's Catalyst Award Story
  • Saint Mary’s College: Dr. Joel Ralston
    • Students enrolled in Dr. Ralston’s ecology course at Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana were exposed to leading women researchers in the field and were able to experience their outstanding and important work.

    • Through Blackboard Collaborate, the researchers benefited from this experience by being able to log presentations of their work and network with colleagues from around the globe. This type of exchange is valuable for both researchers and students as it provides a mechanism for future collaborations.

  • University of Derby: TEL Team
    • Inspired by the Blackboard Exemplary Course Program Rubric, the University of Derby introduced a Digital Practice Programme Baseline in April 2017 as a required framework that instructors use to build high quality courses that enhance the digital learning experience. As part of the institutional implementation, instructors are required to submit annual reviews to benchmark their progress. This helps the University understand where there are areas of best practice and, where staff development resource needs to be allocated. As of March 2018, about 25% courses at Derby have been submitted.
  • University of Mississippi: Marc Watkins
    • Marc Watkins, an Instructor at the University of Mississippi, uses the capacities of Blackboard to maximize the effectiveness of Open Educational Resources (OER) and eliminate $200 of textbook costs previously required by the University. Using OER saved Watkin’s students over $28,000 in textbook costs, and students responded positively to the new changes in the course and enjoyed being able to annotate and highlight OER material integrated on Blackboard and the Internet.
  • Wilmington University, Delaware: The College of Arts and Sciences and The College of Online and Experiential Learning
    • Wilmington University introduced an innovative model for online learning that provides accessibility, flexibility, and engagement to distant students. This model enabled a mixture of real-world assessments with a creative use of collaboration between industry experts and students.
    • Wilmington University's Catalyst Award Story


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:

  • Edge Hill University: Learning Services Staff
    • Edge Hill University has demonstrated a commitment to inclusive education by their efforts to create an accessible learning environment for all students. They implemented an inclusive teaching approach that seeks to make teaching resources available to all students rather than just those with a registered disability.
  • University of Cincinnati: Megan Wuebker, Dave Rathbun, Heidi Pettyjohn, and Paul Foster
    • The University of Cincinnati piloted Blackboard Ally to make their online resources accessible to all members of the community. Ally efficiently enabled the University to reduce the amount of time needed and minimized the impact on faculty workflow in creating accessible documents.


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

  • Concordia University, Wisconsin: Christopher Brandt, Andy Miller, and Elizabeth Polzin
    • The student success team at Concordia University – Wisconsin used Blackboard Intelligence to redesign and optimize their approach to student advising and academic support. Because of this coordinated approach to data-informed academic advising, the University has witnessed a 10% year-over-year increase in freshman student retention.
    • Concordia University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Lamar University, Texas: Office of Marketing Communications - Kate Downing, Daniel McLemore, Charla Pate and Bri Gore
    • Lamar University is an exemplary marketing client that leverages data and an integrated technology stack to provide full insight into the funnel. Through this holistic picture of the student experience from inquiry to enrollment and managing a portfolio of programs responsive to student demand, Lamar can make JIT adjustments to be student centered and responsive. With the tracking system they have set up, they are able to control costs and maintain high levels of efficiency.
    • Lamar University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Technical College System of Georgia
    • In an effort to increase student retention and enrollment, 5 colleges in The Technical College System of Georgia worked work with Student Services to launch a 24x7, one-stop, virtual student service center that can answer student’s questions on enrollment, admissions, advising, financial aid, and registration.  The system streamlines the disparate processes for student applications so that TCSG students can get all the information they need in one place.


Training & Professional Development: This award recognizes those who use Blackboard programs to support and enhance professional development within or outside of their organization. The winners are:

  • Edge Hill University: Learning Services Staff
    • Edge Hill University implemented a creative professional development program to overcome low attendance. They created a self-paced gamified course called #DigiQuest using Blackboard Organization. The pirate themed course was structured around six key digital capabilities that empowered participants to take control of their own learning paths.
  • Indian River State College, Florida: Katie Profeta and Michael Pelitera, IRSC Virtual Campus
    • Indiana River State College created Virtual Campus Instructor Training (VCIT), which is a textbook-free, online training course developed for faculty teaching online at the College. The transfer of these skills will be demonstrated using the online course environment in Blackboard Learn, and the tools provided within Learn that help increase efficiency for faculty such as on-board rubrics, discussions, surveys and quizzes. Additionally, VCIT utilizes Blackboard Collaborate to increase the flexibility and convenience that the online courses already offer.
  • Central Michigan University: Jeremy Bond, Kendra Brown, and Ming Dai
    • Central Michigan University transformed their online course design process through bringing together multiple departments for the improvement of course design. The process has proven to reduce the time of completion for course design from 145 days to 97 days allowing for more courses to be re-designed each semester.
    • Central Michigan University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Grand Valley State University, Michigan: eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team Eric Kunnen
    • Grand Valley State University’s eLearning and Emerging Technologies Team offer a variety of professional development opportunities and support that create awareness of the capabilities of Blackboard and the use of technology in teaching. Through their creative deployment of activities, faculty are supported effectively; well above and beyond the typical or standard “IT Help Desk” model.
    • Grand Valley State University's Catalyst Award Story
  • Kentucky Community and Technical College System: James Gibson
    • The Kentucky Community and Technical College System built a Learning Management System Training and Resource Center for all faculty at 16 schools in a Blackboard Learn course shell. The material was built in modules, so faculty can work through all modules sequentially or view the module description to learn about a specific subject. In addition, an automated process was created in their Student Information System to automatically enroll all active faculty in the course shell with a role type of Active Learner.
  • Calcasieu Parish Public Schools: Sheryl Abshire
    • The Technology Training Center (TTC) at Calcasieu Parish Public Schools has successfully provided continuing professional development for more than seventeen years. The TTC cultivates educators with a plethora of PD strategies, adapting to the ever-changing needs of today's learners through differentiated instruction.


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:

  • Continental University, Peru: Miguel Córdova and the Digital Technologies Team
    • The Continental University of Peru has two types of study: face-to-face and study modalities with their blended and distance programs. This modality has an ecosystem of digital tools including Blackboard Collaborate for the broadcast of videocasts, and in 2017 its LMS migrated from Moodle to Moodlerooms which significantly impacted the educational experience of students, teachers and administrators. The Continental University of Peru saw positive results and improvement in learning outcomes, teaching performance, abandonment and user experience.
    • The Continental University of Peru Catalyst Award Story
  • Bryant University, Rhode Island: Dr. Laurie L. Hazard, Laura Kohl, Stephanie K. Carter, and Stephen Payne
    • Bryant University developed a student success online course, a component of their First-Year Gateway Program, to support first-year academic excellence. The First-Year Gateway Program utilizes learning outcomes assessment data in a curriculum that cultivates professional skills and critical thinking, while fostering a successful transition into Bryant’s scholarly community.
  • Obridge Academy, New York: Dr. Jennifer Albert, Kristin Bestler, Harry Yang, and Laura Levarity
    • Serving grades 6-12, Obridge Academy offers a personal touch online learning experience to support and engage special needs students. With the creation of a Blackboard "course" called the "Accommodation Station," student services range from live advisement, counseling, and tutoring, to providing a space to socialize, participate in clubs and share resources, and even proctoring tests and quizzes one-on-one in real time. Other progressive and forward-thinking virtual schools, can duplicate this course.


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

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