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A Foundation for Considering Online Course Quality. What’s Out There. Prescriptive. Descriptive. Simple. Complex. Simple/Prescriptive. Exhibits emphases of particular institution Tends to focus on “minimum acceptability” Needs little training to complete form

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what s out there
What’s Out There





simple prescriptive
  • Exhibits emphases of particular institution
  • Tends to focus on “minimum acceptability”
  • Needs little training to complete form
  • Suited for systematic implementation
complex prescriptive
  • Can be quite esoteric with many “rules”
  • Can also be fairly comprehensive
  • Tends to focus on “minimum acceptability”
  • Evaluators need training
  • There are challenges to a systematic implementation
simple descriptive
  • Emphasis is on a skilled/knowledgeable evaluator
  • Relatively little dependence on the form
  • Categories provide some structure
  • Feedback can be robust
  • Likely to have smaller number of evaluators taking more time to complete
complex descriptive
  • Essentially a full-blown research study
  • Usefulness limited to a small number of courses of particular interest
  • Many hours to complete
  • Requires evaluator who knows the methodology and who has a diverse knowledge of online courses
  • Not for the faint of heart!
bottom line
Bottom Line
  • The practical isn’t particularly rigorous
  • The rigorous isn’t particularly practical
  • Scalability is an issue!
a foundation
A Foundation

Theoretical basis (for comprehensiveness)


Synthesis of many online course

standards (for practical relevance)

a foundation1
A Foundation
  • Schwab’s (1973) Commonplaces
    • Learners
    • Teachers
    • Subject matter
    • Milieus
a foundation2
A Foundation
  • Learning Environment Facets (Perkins)
  • Modular Reusability (Thompson)
  • Community of Inquiry (Garrison et al)
  • Spectrum of Teaching Styles (Mosston & Ashworth)

(See packet for more information)

a foundation3
A Foundation
  • Two dimensions of online courses
  • Nine “should” statements
  • Integrated best practices
two dimensions
Two Dimensions

Course Environment

Course Experience

two dimensions1
Two Dimensions
  • Most sets of standards focus on course environment only
  • Some faculty focus on course experience
  • Both dimensions are necessary to tell the whole story
online course environment
Online Course Environment
  • Clearly communicate scope, sequence, and length of learning activities to students while providing feedback on progress.
  • Provide authoritative sources of reputable subject matter content.
  • Provide for abstract communication by each student.
  • Incorporate ready-made components for student manipulation or real life opportunities (or simulations) to apply course concepts.
  • Balance contextualization and reusability throughout the course environment.
online course experience
Online Course Experience
  • Instructors and students exchange substantive ideas related to course content.
  • Instructors and students provide facilitation/guidance of the course experience.
  • Instructors and students represent themselves as “real people” in the course experience.
  • Ensure that power roles of instructors and students are clear and consistent throughout the course experience.