GRCC professor wins international award for course design



Leah Nixon

Director of Communications


June 2, 2014 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. A professor in Grand Rapids Community College’s computer information systems department will receive an international award for outstanding course design.

Kristin Roberts, who has taught at GRCC since 1991, was awarded the 2014 Blackboard Catalyst Award for Exemplary Course for her C++ programming. Blackboard Inc., a developer of educational software, will honor Roberts and the other award winners during a conference in July in Las Vegas.

The Blackboard Catalyst Awards program recognizes courses that demonstrate best practices in four areas: course design, interaction and collaboration, assessment, and learner support. More than 300 faculty and instructional designers evaluated over 200 entries. This is the third such award achieved by GRCC computer information systems department faculty in the past few years: Cheryl Kautz received Blackboard Catalyst awards in 2012 and 2013.

“All my courses include a ‘course tour’ to help students learn where everything is located in the course,” said Roberts, adding that her computer programming and online courses comply with Universal Design for Learning guidelines and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements. “Each week there’s an outline that presents student learning outcomes and closed-captioned videos related to topics covered during that week.”

The committee members who reviewed Roberts’ course called it “exemplary” and praised its accessibility, with one member saying: “The use of technology in this course is extraordinary, and it looks like it also plays a motivational role in endorsing learning.” To see a video about Roberts’ course, click here.

Fiona Hert, dean of GRCC’s School of Workforce Development, said Roberts and the entire computer information systems department work hard to keep pace in a quickly changing field.

“Kristin has gone above and beyond to ensure her course meets the high demands and high standards of our computer information systems department and its students,” Hert said. “In this day and age of continuous technology changes, Kristin has designed a course that will prepare students for the future within their field.”

Grand Rapids Community College, established in 1914, offers opportunities for more than 30,000 students annually in degree courses, certification and training programs, workshops and personal enrichment classes. GRCC holds classes on the downtown Grand Rapids campus as well as several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties.