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University of Nevada, Reno receives international award for web-based course



Michele Pelter, left, and Alina Solovyova-Vincent, right, received the international Blackboard Exemplary Course Award for their innovative and engaging web-based course design at the University of Nevada, Reno.

For the third consecutive year, a University of Nevada, Reno web-based course, its instructor and instructional designer have won the Blackboard Exemplary Course Award, an international award that recognizes innovative and engaging online and hybrid courses.

Introduction to Knowledge Development and Scientific Inquiry, taught by Michele Pelter, assistant professor of nursing at the University of Nevada, Reno Orvis School of Nursing, received a 2011 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Courses by Blackboard Inc. The international company works with clients to develop and implement technology that improves education.

Pelter’s course stood out from the crowd, as a panel of more than 100 faculty judges from institutions around the world reviewed submitted entries in search of the best in the world.

The course is a foundational course for the master of science in nursing degree and was designed by Pelter and Alina Solovyova-Vincent, instructional designer in the University’s teaching and learning technologies department. Solovyova-Vincent has spearheaded the design and delivery of winning courses for the past three years.

Pelter’s innovative use of technologies to keep students engaged and support their mini-thesis/project helped the course get noticed by the Blackboard judges. The course went through a “course makeover program” in spring 2009. The makeover program, offered three times a year by the University’s teaching and learning technologies department, provides instructors with detailed, comprehensive review and feedback on the design and delivery of their courses. Over the next couple of years, Pelter implemented an array of suggestions from the review. As a result, the class now features weekly narrated lectures, “Hot Topics” discussions, weekly self-tests, real-life case studies and a virtual tour of the course.

“Participating in the design and redesign of this course has been a challenging but very rewarding experience for me,” Pelter said. “The course makeover program helped me to better understand online learning and gave me many ideas on how to improve my course.”

Pelter and Solovyova-Vincent will attend the Blackboard Annual Conference July 12-14 in Las Vegas to be recognized for their outstanding work and to give a poster presentation on the winning course, which will become a model of exemplary practices in designing and teaching online courses for university faculty around the world. Solovyova-Vincent will also receive the 2011 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Excellence in Online Professional Development, for her creation of the course makeover program.

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