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Defining and Implementing Quality Assurance Standards for Online Courses. Lawrence C. Ragan , Director, Instructional Design/Development, The Pennsylvania State University

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defining and implementing quality assurance standards for online courses

Defining and Implementing Quality Assurance Standards for Online Courses

Lawrence C. Ragan, Director, Instructional Design/Development, The Pennsylvania State University

Christina M. Sax, Professor & Assistant Dean, Social, Behavioral, Natural, & Mathematical Sciences, University of Maryland University College

presentation agenda
Presentation Agenda
  • Session Objectives
  • Participant Activity
  • QM Overview: Circle and Rubric
  • Penn State Approach/Status
  • Story of Convergence
  • QM Attractive Features
  • PSU Adoption/Adaptation
  • QM Opportunities
  • a. Models
  • b. Institution/Institute
session objective
Session Objective
  • Provide an overview of the development, implementation and administration of an inter-institutional quality assurance system and the application within a single institution.
participant activity
Participant Activity
  • 2-minute drill
    • Turn to person next to you and discuss:
    • What characteristics would you use to assess the quality of the vehicle you may be purchasing?
  • Feedback from Teams
  • Issues of Definition--single vs group
quality matters
Quality Matters
  • Quality does matter to …
  • students
  • faculty
  • administrators
  • institutions
  • consortia
  • accrediting agencies
  • legislators
  • tax-payers

How do we …

  • identify & recognize it?
  • motivate & instill it?
  • assess & measure it?
  • insure it?
  • assure it?
quality matters inter institutional quality assurance in online learning
Quality Matters: Inter-Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning
  • Grantor: FIPSE
    • Grant period: 9/03 – 8/06
    • Award: $509,177
  • Grantee: MarylandOnline
    • Statewide consortium: 14 community colleges, 5 senior institutions
  • http://www.QualityMatters.org
fipse interested because
FIPSE Interested Because …
  • Quality assurance of online courses is important
  • Voluntary inter-institutional assurance has never been done before
  • This can serve as a national model

Quality Matters!

slide8

Course Meets Quality Expectations

Course Revision

Incoming process

  • Institutions
    • CAO’s
    • AR’s

Faculty Course Developers

National Standards & Research Literature

Course

Rubric

Faculty Reviewers

Training

Peer Course Review

Feedback

Instructional Designers

for our purposes quality is
More than average; more than “good enough”

An attempt to capture what’s expected in an effective online course at about an 85% level

Based on research and widely accepted standards

For Our Purposes, Quality Is…

85 %

major themes
Major Themes
  • develop inter-institutional consensus - criteria & process online course QA
  • assure & improve course quality
  • positively impact student learning
  • faculty-centered activities
  • promote voluntary participation and adoption
  • ensure institutional autonomy
  • replicable, reliable, and scalable processes
  • foster sharing of materials and expertise
  • create opportunities for training and professional development
what quality matters is not
What Quality Matters is NOT
  • Not about an individual instructor

(it’s about the course design)

  • Not about faculty evaluation

(it’s about course quality)

  • Not a win/lose, pass/fail test

(it’s about a continuous improvement process in a supportive environment)

quality matters rubric
Quality Matters Rubric
  • Based on
    • research literature
    • nationally recognized standards of best practice
    • instructional design principles
  • Used by review teams to:
    • assess course quality in 8 key areas (40 review elements)
    • provide feedback to faculty course developer
    • provide guidance to instructional design support team
rubric scoring
Rubric Scoring
  • Team of three reviewers
  • One score per standard based on majority
  • Two criteria to meet quality expectations:
    • “Yes” to all 14 Essential Standards
    • Receive at least a total of 68 points
review teams
Review Teams
  • Teams composed of 3 reviewers:
    • 1 from home institution, 2 from others
    • 1 from same discipline, 2 from others
    • May be either faculty and or ID/IT (practitioners)
    • mix of CC & 4 yr schools
    • mix of large & small schools
    • mix of public & private schools
  • Course author--resource for review team
reviewer rubric training
Reviewer Rubric Training
  • Focus on:
    • Application of rubric to course review
    • Interpretation of review elements
    • Providing constructive feedback
    • Competency-based
course reviews
Course Reviews
  • To date, 50% meet expectations on initial review
    • Instructional design support provided
  • Identified 11 common areas for improvement
    • Target for course development/revision, faculty training
      • instructor\'s self-introduction
      • netiquette expectations
      • learning objectives stated at the module/unit level
      • self-check/practice activities with feedback
      • Interaction
      • links to school\'s academic support
      • ADA issues
what s in it for institutions
What’s In It For Institutions …
  • External validation process
  • Strengthens institution’s accreditation package
  • Raise QA as a priority activity
  • Gain access to a sustainable, replicable, scalable QA process
  • Inform online course training & practices
  • Provide professional development activities
what s in it for participants
What’s In It For Participants …
  • improve your online course
  • instructional design support
  • external quality assurance
  • expand professional community
  • chance to review other courses
  • gain new ideas for your own course
  • participation useful for annual evaluations, promotion applications, professional development plan/requirements
national participation
National Participation
  • Scope:
    • individuals from 70 different institutions (including the 19 MOL schools) in 14 different states
    • Over 250 faculty trained to review online courses using the rubric
    • National external partners & advisory board
  • Use of QM System:
    • online course development, review, and revision, faculty training, formation of distance learning policies & steering committees, institutional reaccredidation packages
awards 2005
Awards - 2005
  • WCET Outstanding Work (WOW) Award
  • USDLA 21st Century Best Practice Award
  • Maryland Distance Learning Association (MDLA) Best Program Award
psu approach to quality standards
PSU Approach to Quality Standards
  • History: WC started in 1998 with 4 courses grew to 150 by 2002
  • Course design and development initiatives from units external to WC
  • “Some” variability of design and development practices
  • Compromise of “PSU Quality”
  • If delivered via WC then held responsible for ensuring quality
definition of quality

Definition of “Quality”

The user (learner) of a system (educational) has a reasonable opportunity for success.

psu online quality standards
PSU Online Quality Standards
  • Charge by Provost to eLearning Council to identify standards of quality for online learning
  • Built upon technical standards and pedagogical guidelines developed by WC
  • Forwarded to Provost and accepted as University policy by the University Web Task Force
implementation
Implementation
  • Distributed to Deans as policy (probably stopped there)
  • Do exist as record somewhere and accessible if you can find them
  • No enforcement “teeth”-- no implementation system established
  • No mechanism for reviewing and updating
  • Some may claim “academic freedom” and standards need not apply
psu interest in qm standards
PSU Interest in QM Standards
  • PSU eLearning Council examining the potential of QM model at PSU
  • Subcommittee organized to look at various adaptation options
  • Primary points of interest:
    • Externally validated
    • Well defined rubric
    • Established “system”
    • Research-based criteria
potential options
Potential Options
  • PSU can fully accept and adopt the QM system for quality assurance.

• Courses would be submitted to QM for evaluation and ultimately the QM seal of approval.

  • PSU can adopt the QM system to the PSU environment including approval of reviewers and QM process.

• PSU would negotiate with the QM board on the adaptation process in order to maintain the QM seal of approval.

  • PSU can adopt the QM system to the PSU environment including approval of reviewers and QM process.

• PSU would not seek the QM seal of approval.

  • Penn State would maintain the current model of Technical Standards and Pedagogical Guidelines.
qm looking ahead
QM: Looking Ahead
  • Adapt rubric & process for other formats
    • Hybrid/blended, face-to-face, continuing education, commercial, professional training
  • Adapt rubric & process for specific institutional needs
  • Explore the “QM Institution” concept
  • Assess the impact on student learning through research projects
qm looking ahead28
QM: Looking Ahead
  • Diversify Training Program
    • Additional review training & train-the-trainer
  • Annual rubric update cycle
  • Sustainability plan
  • Develop partnerships & business opportunities
www qualitymatters org

www.qualitymatters.org

For more information:

Kay Kane

[email protected]

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