College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters. Process for Quality Online Course Development and Delivery

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1 College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Process for Quality Online Course Development and Delivery Approved by CASL Executive Committee, September 10, 2014 CASL Online Learning Advisory Committee (OLAC) assumed the task of creating a process for quality assurance and delivery in online courses. The following OLAC faculty members contributed to this policy draft: Elizabeth Fomin (CASL Online) Dan Lawson (Natural Sciences) Pamela McAuslan (Behavioral Sciences) Ilir Miteza (Social Sciences) Sheryl Pearson (Literature, Philosophy, and the Arts) Stephane Spoiden (Language, Culture, and Communication) Marie Waung (Behavioral Sciences) Preamble The purpose of this process is largely to aid in online course development, mentoring, and instructor self- assessment. This process is based on universal best practices that apply equally to on- line, hybrid, and face- to- face courses. OLAC encourages college faculty to embrace these standards for all courses, regardless of delivery method. Underlying the following descriptions is the assumption that all courses at UM- Dearborn whether delivered face- to- face or online should be equivalent in rigor, objectives, and outcomes. 1. Current Online Course Development Process and Support 1.1. Funding and incentives: CASL has recently created a decentralized system of department- and program- based funding and incentives to support online course offerings. This system of incentives is funded primarily by a modest 1

2 fee added to online course tuition. The objective is not only to recognize the additional effort required to create online courses, but also to sustain a healthy selection of offerings. Disciplines, Department Executive Committees, and Chairs possess specific knowledge of their programs and their faculty and are in the best position to make decisions about their online curriculum selection. The awareness that the demanding work to develop and run quality online courses should be supported and awarded at the outset and on a continuing basis, is the rationale for giving departments and programs full decision- making autonomy in online curriculum matters Technical Support: A number of campus wide and college- based online resources are available to faculty teaching online to help them become proficient and efficient with technology. The main resource at the college level is the CASL Online Office, which supports faculty with their Learning Management System needs, offers training and consulting on online instruction solutions, and provides exam proctoring by special arrangement for online classes only. CASL Online also provides support with media production and lecture capture recording. CASL faculty have other resources at their disposal, such as training and consulting at the Hub for Teaching and Learning (campus- wide), and the Center for Research, Learning, and Teaching (at the Ann Arbor campus) Course Design and Evaluation: The college does not have a separate process for creating online courses, or maintaining their quality, since the disciplines expect equivalence between online and face- to- face courses. CASL faculty evaluate and assess online courses using the existing peer- review system. This system includes a variety of ways to evaluate teaching, including class visits (or online observation), examination of course materials for appropriateness and rigor, the effectiveness of the delivery method in the classroom or on- line, and the extent to which courses are updated and teaching innovations applied. The goal of peer- review is often developmental, with suggestions for change, and ongoing mentoring occurring as an important part of the evaluation process. An increasing 2

3 number of faculty are bringing their own experience with online learning to this review process; in fact, while relatively few faculty had ventured into online teaching a few years ago, today it is not uncommon for a discipline to have a critical mass of experienced online faculty. Acknowledging the challenges of online course design and instruction, there is an understanding and expectation that a quality assurance process for online instruction is both useful and necessary. Such a process can be beneficial for the faculty as they design new online courses, as well as for the institution, as it promotes and demonstrates high standards for online instruction. The cornerstone of such a process has to be an online course development and delivery that is learner- centered and focused on achieving the same student learning outcomes as in face- to- face instruction. Innovative pedagogy in online education has often influenced face- to- face instruction and the majority of best practices in online education are universal. In that sense, a well- designed rubric for teaching online can also inform traditional instruction. 2. Recognizing and Promoting Quality in Online Education Defining quality in online instruction is an essential element of CASL s approach to online education. In similar fashion with Quality Matters a rubric of general and specific standards to guide the design of online courses in use at a large number of universities CASL recommends that faculty utilize its rubric 1 of best practices in online instruction. The Course Design Rubric (CDR) in Appendix 1 is an optional, but highly recommended tool, which can be used in the following ways: a. As a road map to aid faculty in designing a new course for the online environment. 1 CASL s Course Design Rubric is largely based on a rubric used at California State University, Chico. It is licensed as a CC 3.0, which allows modifications, given appropriate attribution. 3

4 b. As a course "self- evaluation" tool - advising instructors how to revise an existing course. Faculty have the option to use this self- evaluation to strengthen their promotion cases, or to mentor peer online instructors. c. As a means for getting recognition for exemplary online instruction. d. As an aid for mentoring of faculty new to online teaching. The Course Design Rubric includes four categories: Learner Support and Resources, Online Organization and Design, Instructional Design, Delivery, and Technology, Assessment and Evaluation of Student Learning 3. Creating an Online Course: The Process All new course proposals and major course changes are reviewed by CASL Curriculum Committee and usually track the following route: Faculty member Discipline Department CASL Curriculum Committee University Curriculum and Degree Committee Registrar Both new course proposals and course changes require the submission of a standard course form - - along with a supporting statement and rationale - - to the CASL Curriculum Committee. The same process will be followed for the creation of new online courses, as well as for changing the delivery format of an existing course to include online/hybrid. The supporting statement and rationale for online courses will include an Online Rationale Form 2 (ORF)) in Appendix 2, with 6 questions, closely aligned with the categories of the Course Design Rubric. Faculty members plan and design their course using the optional Course Design Rubric, and on that basis, can easily 2 OLAC adapted a rationale form developed by the Department of Social Sciences for online courses. 4

5 complete the Online Rationale Form. Faculty can then choose to append a completed Course Design Rubric to supplement their Online Rationale Form. In summary, submitting a new online course proposal, or a course change proposal from face- to- face delivery to online or hybrid, requires the following documents: - - Standard Curriculum Committee Course form Curriculum Committee Supporting Statement and Rationale (includes ORF) In addition, a completed Course Design Rubric is optional but strongly recommended. The ORF is considered part of the rationale for offering the course online, not an extra step in the approval process. Faculty will have an opportunity to indicate on the ORF if they have participated in any activities related to online instruction (workshops, webinars, consultation with an instructional designer, or with faculty peers). Faculty could also indicate in which of these activities they would be interested to participate. Through this form the college and department promotes and recommends these professional growth activities. This process is faculty- centered, anchored at the department/program level, and it does not include additional college approval hurdles or top- down impositions of quality standards. It is aligned with University of Michigan- Dearborn processes, faculty governance policies, and values, and promotes a high level of professionalism. Most importantly, it allows for the discipline- specific adaptations that spring from different teaching methods and goals. 4. Self- evaluation in Online Instruction The Course Design Rubric is intended as a template, or guide, to help faculty structure their plans for designing an online course. The rubric is also a helpful template for describing course design and delivery on the Online Rationale Form, since they are congruent. Placing check marks across the rubric categories would give the instructor and the program a good visual map of strengths in course design 5

6 and delivery in the planning phase, as well as a good idea of what areas to improve over time. Most importantly, this visual map can provide a good reference for future self- evaluations, and faculty can choose to use it as evidence of growth in teaching performance for their review and promotion. 5. Maintaining and Refreshing Online Courses Faculty are encouraged to use the Course Design Rubric and other existing support systems in the College and campus in order to keep pace with new instructional technology and pedagogical developments. Departments and programs rely on the peer- review system to evaluate and assess online courses, including online observation, ongoing training, and mentoring. Departments may also choose to use the best practices outlined in the CDR as well as the Online Rationale Form in conjunction with the department- based incentives to encourage a regular cycle of maintenance and updating for online courses. The same faculty- driven process (as set forth in faculty- governance policies and the Standard Practice Guide for the University of Michigan) for reviewing and revising traditional courses, applies to maintaining and refreshing online courses, employing best practices in distance learning. 6

7 APPENDIX 1 Online Course Design Rubric Category 1 Baseline Effective Exemplary A. Course contains limited information for online learner support and links to campus resources. A. Course contains adequate information for online learner support and links to campus resources. A. Course contains extensive information about being an online learner and links to campus resources. Learner Support & Resources B. Course provides limited course- specific resources, limited contact information for instructor, department, and/or program. C. Course offers limited resources supporting course content and different learning abilities. B. Course provides adequate course- specific resources, some contact information for instructor, department, and program. C. Course offers access to adequate resources supporting course content and different learning abilities. B. Course provides a variety of course- specific resources, contact information for instructor, department, and program. C. Course offers access to a wide range of resources supporting course content and different learning abilities. E. Accessibility issues are not addressed. (Including: sight, mobility, hearing, cognition, ESL, and technical.) E. Accessibility issues are briefly addressed. (Including: sight, mobility, hearing, cognition, ESL, and technical.) E. Accessibility issues are addressed throughout the course. (Including: sight, mobility, hearing, cognition, ESL, and technical.) 7

8 Online Course Design Rubric Category 2 Baseline Effective Exemplary Online Organization & Design A. Much of the course is under construction, with some key components identified such as the syllabus. B. Course syllabus is unclear about what is expected of students. C. Aesthetic design does not present and communicate course information clearly. D. Web pages are inconsistent both visually and functionally. A. Course is organized and navigable. Students can understand the key components and structure of the course. B. Course syllabus identifies and delineates the role the online environment will play in the course. C. Aesthetic design presents and communicates course information clearly. D. Most web pages are visually and functionally consistent. A. Course is well- organized and easy to navigate. Students can clearly understand all components and structure of the course. B. Course syllabus identifies and clearly delineates the role the online environment will play in the total course. C. Aesthetic design presents and communicates course information clearly throughout the course. D. All web pages are visually and functionally consistent throughout the course. 8

9 Online Course Design Rubric Category 3 Baseline Effective Exemplary Instructional Design, Delivery, & Technology A. Course offers limited opportunity for interaction and communication student to student, student to instructor and student to content. B. Course goals are not clearly defined and do not align to learning objectives. C. Learning objectives are vague or incomplete and learning activities are absent or unclear. D. Course uses limited technology tools to facilitate communication and learning. A. Course offers adequate opportunities for interaction and communication student to student, student to instructor and student to content. B. Course goals are adequately defined but may not align to learning objectives. C. Learning objectives are identified and learning activities are implied. D. Course uses adequate technology tools to facilitate communication and learning. A. Course offers ample opportunities for interaction and communication student to student, student to instructor and student to content. B. Course goals are clearly defined and aligned to learning objectives. C. Learning objectives are identified and learning activities are clearly integrated. D. Course uses a variety of technology tools to appropriately facilitate communication and learning. E. There are limited multimedia elements and/or learning objects for accommodating different learning styles. E. Relevant Multimedia elements and/or learning objects are used to accommodate different learning styles. E. A variety of relevant multimedia elements and/or learning objects are used to accommodate different learning styles throughout the course. 9

10 Online Course Design Rubric Category 4 Baseline Effective Exemplary Assessment & Evaluation of Student Learning A. Course has limited activities to assess student readiness for course content and mode of delivery. B. Learning objectives, instructional and assessment activities are not aligned. C. Assessment strategies are limited in use to measure content knowledge, attitudes, and skills. D. Opportunities for students to receive feedback about their own performance are infrequent and sporadic. E. Students self- assessments and/or peer feedback opportunities are limited. A. Course has adequate activities to assess student readiness for course content and mode of delivery. B. Learning objectives, instructional and assessment activities are adequately aligned. C. Ongoing strategies are used to measure content knowledge, attitudes, and skills. D. Opportunities for students to receive feedback about their own performance are provided. E. Students self- assessments and/or peer feedback opportunities exist. A. Course has multiple timely and appropriate activities to assess student readiness for course content and mode of delivery. B. Learning objectives, instructional and assessment activities are closely aligned. C. Ongoing multiple assessment strategies are used to measure content knowledge, attitudes, and skills. D. Regular feedback about student performance is provided in a timely manner throughout the course. E. Students self- assessments and peer feedback opportunities exist throughout the course. 10

11 APPENDIX 2 College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters Online Rationale Form Date: Course number: Course title: Faculty member: Proposed first/next offering: Term Yr Is this an existing course? Yes No If existing, what is the delivery method for which the course is currently approved? Face-to-Face Online Hybrid 1. What support will be offered to online learners? (i.e. chat sessions, how to videos, conferencing, etc.) (CDR Category 1) 2. In what ways will the online environment improve the learning experience in this course? (CDR Category 2) 3. How will students interact with each other and the professor? Multiple modes of interaction are strongly recommended. (CDR Category 3) 4. What delivery methods will be used for course content? What technology will be required to develop and run the course? (CDR Category 3) 5. How will student mastery of course concepts and content be evaluated? Multiple methods of evaluation are strongly recommended. (CDR Category 4) 6. Other comments relevant to the online format. For department-based incentives: Do you teach this course in an online format at another university? Yes No If so, please estimate the percentage of course content that would be the same in the course you are proposing for UM-Dearborn: 11

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