Gauging Online Course Quality in Large Institutions: Preparing for Scale

Concurrent Session 5

Session Materials

Brief Abstract

Presenters will describe their experiences of implementing an online course review process at a large university in the United States. Institutional scale, infrastructure, university culture, communication, and technological resources emerged as critical factors. Open resources, as well as lessons learned, will be shared.


In the summer of 2011, Aimee joined the Instructional Design team at CDL. She graduated with a Doctor of Education degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a specialization in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Cincinnati in 2011. Her research interests include quality online course design, textbook affordability, online discussion strategies, and technology and gender. Dr. deNoyelles has published in several journals including Computers & Education, Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, Journal of Applied Research in Higher Education, and Journal of Special Education Technology.
Amanda Major, Ed.D., CPLP, PMP enjoys contributing to instructional design initiatives and leading projects to enhance online higher education. Dr. Major has experience delivering results in a variety of learner-focused and client-oriented environments. Prior to arriving at UCF as an instructional designer Amanda taught online courses, oversaw online program management, participated in strategic planning efforts, developed policies, offered instructional design assistance, and improved business processes to contribute to quality online programs at a large, public, research-intensive University. Actively contributing to the field of online learning, she has presented at national and international conferences and has peer-reviewed publications about organizational development, as well as e-learning operations and projects in higher education. Dr. Major holds a Project Management Professional certification from the Project Management Institution (PMI) and a Certified Professional in Learning and Performance certification from the Association for Talent Development (ATD). Additionally, she has earned certifications from the Online Learning Consortium and Quality Matters focused specifically on online learning in higher education. Her academic credentials include an Ed.D. in educational leadership, policy and law; an M.A. in industrial organizational psychology; and a B.A. in interdisciplinary studies with a concentration in social psychological issues.

Extended Abstract

The purpose of this session is to share how a team of Instructional Designers at the University of Central Florida designed, developed, and implemented a review process for online courses, while preparing for institutional scale.

By participating in this interactive session, attendees will be able to:

  • Identify factors that impact the implementation of an online course review process, particularly in a large university context

  • Articulate strategies that are effective with skeptical faculty

  • Relate presenters’ experiences to their own university contexts

  • Adopt or adapt the open resources that will be shared (namely, the items used in the “Quality Course Check” and “High Quality Course Check”)

Outline of Session

  1. A brief description of the history of online course “quality” at UCF

  2. A look into how university and state factors led us to create an (optional) online course review process

  3. An examination of how our unique university culture impacted our selection of standards and procedures to assess “quality”

  4. A rich description of our scalable course review process, which is “stackable” in nature (for instance, courses can be rated as “Quality” and, if desired, be further assessed for “High Quality”) and aligned with our professional development and awards. The review is facilitated between the Instructional Designer and instructor; this relationship will be highlighted.

  5. An exploration of how the team leveraged technology to help purposefully recruit instructors

  6. An overview of our communication plan and strategy with instructors (who were not financially incentivized to participate). We quickly found that instructors had concerns about being evaluated for “quality”. Emphasizing design rather than teaching, and emphasizing learner success were helpful in promoting participation.

  7. A preview of the roadmap of ideas ahead, such as automation of recruiting instructors, badging, and using open source platforms such as OSCQR

Participants who are currently implementing or interested in starting any online course review process should benefit from this interactive session. Given that attendees will likely be considering or engaging in course reviews at their institutions, we will engage them in an activity which asks them to gauge factors that both facilitate and impede the promotion of the course review process at their institutions. Then participants will have a conversation with their groups or partners about ways to amplify the facilitative factors or influencing the impeding factors for effective promotion of their course review process. Finally, participants will have the opportunity to freely download our two online course quality review instruments.