The concept of quality in online education can be elusive and complex. With the pandemic spurring so many new online options in higher education, it’s more important than ever that students can identify trustworthy and competent online programs for their educational needs.
The Online Learning Consortium Scorecard review process continues to provide Baker College with the opportunity to drive continuous improvement with clearly identified areas of improvement and a seal of endorsement for areas we are exemplary.
Having earned the OLC Exemplary Review status for the Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs in 2016, and again this spring, I would like to offer four lessons we learned at Baker College along the way.
A Commitment to Continuous Improvement is Required
The phrase continuous improvement is common nomenclature at Baker College, truly, it is part of our institutional DNA. In other words, great is never good enough! That is the first of four lessons that I’d like to share regarding Baker College’s journey in engaging in the OLC Quality Scorecard review process, initially in 2016 and again in spring of 2021. Ultimately, you have to have an institutional commitment to excellence and continuous improvement.
It Takes Time and Institutional Evolution
The second lesson is that it takes time and institutional evolution. The OLC Scorecard requirements cannot be achieved quickly. We have been offering online courses and programs for over two decades alongside our traditional onground programming at our physical campus locations. As a multi-campus system including our online campus, Baker College has matured in our approach to systems thinking, resource management, strategy and institutional commitment to ensure processes and resources are in place to provide online programming in an exemplary and equitable way to all students despite delivery. It is critical that online education is institutionally viewed as a core delivery method and not as an add-on.
Embrace the Opportunity for Feedback
Embrace the opportunity for external evaluation and feedback. This is the third lesson learned from engaging in the OLC Scorecard review process. Coming off our second appraisal, we now know how to use the development opportunities identified from the expert reviewers to focus and drive future improvements. Despite where your institution is in their maturity, I would advocate that all institutions who want to improve their online programming consider this the review process. It’s a comprehensive approach to gain the expertise of the OLC reviewers to identify improvement starting points.
Validate Your Intentions
A fourth lesson or perhaps more of an opportunity is to use the OLC Scorecard as a vehicle to check and authenticate the integrity of internal processes. At Baker, we are committed to equity and access for all student populations and while we believed that we had processes in place to support equity and access for our diverse student populations-would external stakeholders say the same? The review process led us to engage in a robust review of our curriculum development, student support and assessment processes, and as an outcome earned validation of our intentions.
Designing and delivering quality online programs requires strategy, collaboration, and coordination across the institution. I will be sharing more lessons learned, and inspiration found throughout Baker College’s scorecard review with Dr. Nicole Weber, OLC’s Assistant Vice President of Learning, during a webinar on August 18, 2021.
The OLC Quality Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs provides benchmarks and standards to help evaluate online learning programs. Learn more about the OLC Quality Scorecard here.
About the Author: Dr. Lesa Louch currently serves in the role as President for Baker College Online and The Center for Graduate Studies. Dr. Louch also serves as the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer for the College. Over the last 2 decades, Dr. Louch has embraced a variety of leadership roles including Program Director of Teacher Education, Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence as well as her most recent role prior to her presidency as the Associate Provost for Academics where she worked closely with both offices of Instructional Design and Assessment. Dr. Louch has special interest in institutional effectiveness, organizational change management and systems perspective including operational efficiency and strategy.