Cultivating continuous improvement
The exciting news in January that Bellevue University placed first in the U.S. News 2012 Top Online Program Rankings for undergraduate student engagement and assessment was a pleasant surprise but not totally unexpected.
The University--its colleges, professional and administrative organizations and functions, and individual faculty and staff members--participate in a number of surveys and award nominations throughout the year. The purpose is not just to get recognition but to share information with others and gauge how well we’re doing in comparison with educational institutions throughout the country.
The University’s top U.S. News Survey score of 80.5 is the result of ongoing continuous-improvement efforts that are not only encouraged but built into the University’s day-to-day operations and planning for the future. In the case of the online programs, those ongoing efforts began with the University’s first online course offerings in the mid 1990’s.
Continuous improvement continues today, out of necessity. For example, faculty who teach online currently are training to use the enhanced features of an upgraded (Version 9.1) Blackboard learning management system (LMS), which provides new tools and features to enhance online teaching and learning.
In addition to obvious improvements such as the LMS upgrade, which will go live Saturday, March 10, many behind-the-scenes efforts to make things better are built into the University’s five-year strategic plan, with associated metrics to measure progress and keep moving forward.
Forward momentum is important. After all, an 80.5 score in the U.S. News rankings is not perfect. And the second-ranked college earned a score of 80.0! As baseball Hall of Famer Satchel Paige famously said, “Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.”