Centralized Online Course Development: Model and Framework
Concurrent Session 9
Unlike a consultative instructional design approach, a productive approach for online course development promotes centralization and standardization of course design and development, providing a framework for quality control, faculty support, and professional development. The presenter will discuss the benefits and challenges of the productive approach and a centralized model.
The presenter will discuss the key components of a productive, centralized design and development model for online courses, and its strengths, limitations, and challenges. This model promotes a collaborative approach among instructional designers, multimedia designers, and faculty members. The presentation will also outline a conceptual framework for faculty support and professional development in order to centralize, standardize, and promote quality in the online course development process.
The presenter will provide the audience with opportunities to discuss and share their experience working with/as instructional designers in online course design and development. Different online course design and development approaches will be presented. This will allow the audience to explore and discuss the advantages and limitations of each approach.
The Center for eLearning (CeL) is a dedicated center of instructional designers, multimedia designers, web developers, and programmers who work collaboratively with faculty members to design, develop, implement, and evaluate online courses. The CeL is housed at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s (FSCJ) Open Campus. The primary mission of the CeL is to design and develop online courses as well as to establish quality online course standards for the College. Furthermore, the CeL is responsible for transforming courses that have traditionally been taught in a face–to–face format to fully online or hybrid courses. The instructional designers work collaboratively with faculty members, subject-matter experts, and a multimedia team to develop online courses by applying sound instructional design theories and models.
Centralized and Productive Approach: Master Course
In contrast to a consultation-centered instructional design approach that allows faculty members to individually design and develop an online course, the CeL focuses on the productive approach by centralizing and standardizing the course design and development process. The CeL partners with subject-matter experts and/or faculty members to design and develop online Master Courses. Without the frustration of dealing directly with the technology, adjunct and full-time faculty members are able to focus purely on developing, personalizing, and facilitating the course. Faculty subject matter experts focus on content development while the CeL team focuses on development and production. The partnership produces modularized Master Courses that may be used flexibly for face-to-face, hybrid, or fully online sessions across College campuses.
The centralized, productive approach promotes standardization, increasing consistency in quality and delivery. All Master Courses are developed and aligned with the state-approved curriculum and student learning outcomes. The CeL emphasizes the importance of accessibility and usability so that courses meet federal accessibility standards. Through standardization of navigation and course structure, Master Courses share a common look and feel. Original online lecture content, developed by the subject-matter experts, incorporates responsive design (i.e., browser window resizes depending on device size) and platform agnosticism (i.e., ability to be used on any device, operating system, or browser). This allows students to access the content regardless of the type of browser or device.
Levels of Master Course Implementation
When a copy of a Master Course is created, faculty members have an opportunity to decide on how the course should be implemented and taught depending on the session length (e.g., 8, 12, or 16 weeks). Faculty members using the CeL–designed course can be categorized into three levels: Facilitator, Adapter, and Developer. Each level of Master Course implementation involves different degrees of modification in the original design and content. This framework allows the CeL to provide better support and respond to the faculty member’s needs.
The Facilitator Level defines those faculty members who teach the class using a copy of the CeL Master Course. The faculty are able to personalize the course where needed (e.g., assignment due dates, welcome announcement, attendance policy, instructor contact information), but the original course design, structure, and content remain the same. At this level, part-time faculty members are required to implement the course as originally designed.
The Adapter Level defines those faculty members who use a copy of the CeL Master Course, but make modifications of up to 50% to the original course design. Though faculty members are able to customize and personalize the course, it is highly recommended to not remove the essential course elements that are aligned with the curriculum outlines, student learning outcomes, and course learning objectives.
The Developer Level defines those faculty members who use the standard course design template with minimum features. The course content and materials are not provided. The template comes with standardized course main components and navigation. In this level, the faculty members are responsible to design and develop an online course that meets the College standards, state laws and regulations, Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) compliance, copyright laws, and Quality Matters (QM) standards for online and blended courses.
The figure below illustrates the different levels of how the CeL course design can be implemented. The Developer Level requires the most amount of time spent on the course design, development, and personalization. It is also the most difficult for controlling the quality of the course design since the CeL is not as involved in the development process. On the other hand, the Facilitator Level requires the least amount of time to prepare and personalize the course. The quality of the course design has already been controlled and reviewed by the CeL. If the original course design and content of the Master Course are implemented, merely a small amount of adjustment and personalization is required.
Figure 1. The Framework for Master Course Implementation
Professional development is another important component that drives the quality of online education and promotion of a learner-centered approach. In addition to the CeL, FSCJ has the Center for Learning Enrichment (CLE), which is a faculty-driven body dedicated to promoting, facilitating, and honoring excellence in teaching and learning throughout the College. The CeL assists the CLE in designing and developing training courses to promote effective online teaching. The CeL also provides faculty members with guidance, and consultation services, as well as tools and resources as regards Master Course adoption, modification, and personalization. This ensures that the College provides full support and resources to faculty members who are transitioning to teaching online and hybrid and to those who are adopting the CeL’s online Master Courses. In order to assist faculty members in getting the maximum benefit from implementing CeL-designed courses and content, training courses and tools are provided for professional development. Training focuses on three components: Pedagogy, Quality Matters, and Educational Technology.
The training of pedagogy focuses on the foundations of teaching and learning theories, basics of instructional design principles, instructional strategies, and motivation techniques. The training also discusses how faculty members can deliver the course effectively and how to utilize teaching and learning tools to promote a learner-centered approach.
Quality Matters (QM)
QM course design standards for online and blended courses are adopted and integrated throughout the CeL course development process. The CeL simplifies and utilizes the QM rubric as a course design, development, and evaluation tool in order to guide the faculty members on how to personalize and modify the CeL course design appropriately. The Facilitator, Adopter, and Developer Levels receive course design tools that align with the QM course design standards. Different levels will focus on different set of tools and quality assurance processes.
It is important for faculty members to be competent in use of the Learning Management System (LMS) in which the course content, teaching and communication tools, and other course activities are delivered. The educational technology training helps faculty members maximize the use of teaching and learning technological tools available in the LMS and to implement the CeL course design more successfully. Training courses are also designed to assist faculty members in personalizing and modifying the course.