Living in the Wild, Wild West: How to Maintain Online Course Quality with Limited Cash and Criteria

Concurrent Session 1
Streamed Session

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Brief Abstract

How do you ensure quality in online courses in the absence of a centralized quality assurance system? What are strategies and challenges in supporting faculty and students with limited institutional resources? Should institutions adopt centralized or decentralized standards and processes? This interactive session will tackle these questions and more.

Presenters

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. 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.

Extended Abstract

Background/Context:

In recent years, our University wanted to incentivize the development of online courses and programs and did so through a rich cache of resources for faculty, including financial incentives, equipment, software to teach online, professional development opportunities galore, and a lot of support for faculty. It also included centralized quality control system, an internal Quality Matters (QM) process that included trained faculty peer reviewers and required all faculty who teach online to have university QM certification (an internal training) and each course offered online to meet QM standards through the internal QM process. This was all funded through an assessed student fee for online courses.

In November 2018, the online learning fee was removed, and the faculty were informed that the QM process would no longer be used at KSU, and no replacement system would be put into place.  In January 2019, when QM was no longer the quality process, the university administration informed department chairs that they would be in charge of making sure the online courses offered in their departments were offered by qualified faculty, met quality standards defined by the chairs, and were ADA compliant. With 51 departments, that meant that potentially instead of one QM system for all colleges and courses, there could be 51 systems in place.

This Session:

The purpose of this presentation is to share and initiate discussion around the tensions between assuring quality for online courses and reduced resources. As college-level online learning coordinators, we are tasked with supporting our faculty in online course development and facilitation and in helping department chairs ensure high quality online courses. As a group, we are conducting research that focuses on faculty perceptions of this culture change in online learning. We are surveying university faculty to find out how they see their own experiences throughout this institutional cultural change. Also, we will share how we as college-level online coordinators are dealing with this seismic shift in the university’s vision and support of online learning.

With our loss of resources, how do we focus on student success in this new world? How do you convince administrators and decision makers not directly involved in online courses to provide resources? We are falling upon finding innovative ways to ensure quality and how to argue for resources. Our strategies including showing what students value in online courses (see research), identifying what our faculty value, and finding ways that we can help those align given our limited positions of power.

Session Outline:

Introductions

Slido

  1. Do you have a quality assurance system at your institution?
  2. If so, is it a centralized process or decentralized process?

Background

What do students value? (research review)

What do faculty value? (our survey)

Summary of our current strategies/approaches towards quality assurance

Breakout Groups

  1. How do you ensure quality in online courses in the absence of a centralized quality assurance system?
  2. What are strategies and challenges in supporting faculty and students with limited institutional resources?
  3. What are the pros and cons of centralized or decentralized standards and processes?

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