Ensuring Quality in Online Courses: A Brainstorming Session

Concurrent Session 7
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

What do we mean when we say a hybrid or online course is high quality? Are we referring to design? Content? Delivery? How do we ensure quality? The panelists will briefly share our ideas on the topic. Then, we want to hear from the audience and brainstorm even better strategies.


Dr. Tamara Powell is the Director of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Office of Distance Education. She is an alumni of the OLC Institute for Emerging Leaders in Online Learning and a mentor for the OLC Online Teaching Certificate Program. She enjoys working with faculty as they translate their face-to-face teaching genius into an electronic experience.
Dr. Julie Moore is an Associate Professor of Instructional Technology at Kennesaw State University where she also serves as the Instructional Technology Ed.D. Program Coordinator and Bagwell College of Education's Distance Learning Coordinator.
Deborah Mixson-Brookshire, is a Professor of Management and Distance Learning Coordinator at Kennesaw State University. She has been an educator for over 18 years. Striving to create an innovative classroom experience for her students, she utilizes experiential education tools including distance learning to accomplish course outcomes. Deborah has published a variety of articles involving her experiential learning and distance learning research interest. Instructing and leading a variety of workshops, she is able to share her research and experiential pedagogical methods with others. She has also given international and national presentations sharing her passion for teaching and distance learning.
Dr. Bryan serves as Associate Professor and Program Director for Online Education in the WellStar College of Health and Human Services. In this role, she is responsible for providing college-wide leadership in the development and implementation of the college’s portfolio of academic programs and courses offered via distance learning. Prior to her appointment at Kennesaw State University, she had two years of service at Louisiana State University (LSU) and seven years of prior service at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. While at LSU, she served as Director of LSU Online and Associate Dean for Distance Learning and Professional Education. In this role, she was responsible for: (1) providing vision and leadership to LSU Online in the development, implementation and operation of expanded online offerings, (2) ensuring compliance with SACSCOC, Federal and Board of Regents standards for online instruction, and (3) leading a team of instructional designers as courses are developed and refreshed. While at UL Lafayette, she served assistant professor, department head and finally as associate professor director of the school of Kinesiology. She also worked as an instructor and departmental wellness coordinator in the Department of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine at Samford University. She received her BS in Physical Education, Samford University; MA in Physical Education, University of Alabama at Birmingham; and PhD in Kinesiology from Louisiana State University. 1999

Extended Abstract

*note: Dr. Justin Cochran from Coles College of Business will also be joining us. HE is traveling out of the country and not able to add an account yet.

Ensuring Quality in Online Courses: A Brainstorming Session

Dr. Tamara Powell, Online Coordinator, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Julie Moore, Online Coordinator, Bagwell College of Education, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Deborah Mixson-Brookshire, Online Coordinator, University College, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Justin Cochran, Online Coordinator, Coles College of Business, Kennesaw State University

Dr. Charity Bryan, WellStar College of Health and Human Services, Kennesaw State University


Not everyone agrees about what makes a high quality online or hybrid course.  At Kennesaw State University,  in order to ensure that quality control is in place, all courses offered online have to meet Quality Matters standards as established through an internal peer review system.  There is no such rule in place for hybrid courses.  Additionally, five colleges at the university have taken steps to bolster the QM process and/or add to it to further raise the quality of online and hybrid courses offered at KSU. Below is a summary of the different processes each college has established.

College of Humanities and Social Sciences: Professional development and QM pre-reviews of online and hybrid courses to assist faculty in meeting QM standards.

Bagwell College of Education: Professional development and course mentoring assignments to ensure that courses that meet QM standards continue to do so throughout delivery.

University College: Professional development and mandatory Documented Alternative Instructional Equivalencies submissions to establish rigor.

Coles College of Business: Professional development and support for master courses to promote consistency in online and hybrid offerings.

WellStar College of Health and Human Services: Professional development and regular training updates to support best practices.

Brief Presentations

To start the discussion, the five online coordinators at Kennesaw State University will describe how KSU has implemented a Quality Matters internal peer review system to help set a baseline for online course quality. In addition, each college (College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Bagwell College of Education, Coles College of Business, University College, and WellStar College of Health and Human Services) has noted that while QM is a good start, it does not address the delivery of online courses, and it is not implemented at KSU for hybrid courses.

In the past seven years since QM was established at KSU, the five online coordinators have noticed that more can be done to ensure quality in online courses. Therefore, each of their colleges has created additional strategies to ensure students always enjoy high quality online and hybrid courses.

Questions for Discussion

After presenting brief descriptions of the strategies employed by each college, the panel will open up to questions from the audience and a larger discussion of how generally to achieve high quality in online courses.  We expect a few clarifying questions at the outset of the discussion portion. Then, in order to foster discussion, we have several questions, below, that we would like to pose to the audience as the conversation moves.

1. We began this presentation with the assumption that it is important to establish quality control in online and hybrid courses. However, we would like to revisit that assumption with you and ask, is it important to establish quality control in online and/or hybrid courses? Why or why not? What are the advantages and disadvantages?

2. What is your institution’s standard definition of course quality? Is it the same for online, hybrid, and face to face courses? How did you establish your definition?

3. Does your definition include course design or course delivery or both? How do you assess these things? How do you deal with the issue of academic freedom with regard to assessing course content? Is that an issue at your institution and/or with your faculty?

4. Does your institution use QM? Another rubric? Do you have your own?

5. Does your institution mandate any set of standards before a course can be offered at your university? What would be the benefits and drawbacks of such mandates? Do such mandates ensure a baseline of quality control?

6. How are your courses created? Are they faculty developed? Created by publishers? Created by instructional designers with or without faculty input? How do these different ways of developing courses affect how to assess course quality?

7. In an ideal world, how would quality be assessed in online/hybrid/face to face courses? What are the barriers to achieving that ideal?

8. Can we create a set of guidelines or important ideas from this discussion regarding how to ensure course quality no matter the modality?

We hope that at the end of the discussion, we can have a working set of guidelines or big ideas regarding how to ensure course quality regardless of modality. If such guidelines or big ideas emerge, we will share them with the participants and take them back to our institution as we continue to work to ensure high course quality in our courses at Kennesaw State University.