COVID-19 Brings Program Quality Assessment Using OLC Quality Scorecard and QM Peer Review

Concurrent Session 1
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Brief Abstract

The COVID-19 health crisis caused online programs to evaluate course design. The University of Illinois-Chicago has found that the crisis management varied based on individual courses even in online programs. The presentation will focus on the role of course design, meeting online learning standards (OLC Scorecard/QM) influences crisis management.


Nearly fifteen years of experience in higher education administration working with adult learners and distance education including online, self-paced, and accelerated programs. Teaching and Research areas of interest include health informatics, health policy, health promotion, strategic planning, and strategic management. Margaret has earned at Doctor of Public Health degree from the University of Illinois at Chicago. During the 2005-2006 academic years Margaret served as a Fulbright Grantee with the National Institute of Hygiene in Warsaw, Poland. Teaching Experience includes: Public Health, Healthcare Informatics, Strategic Planning, and Strategic Management. Research Experience includes: Health Behavior and Health Promotion. Certifications: Online Learning Consortium Online Teaching Certificate, Quality Matters Applying Rubric Certification and Quality Matters Peer Review Certification.

Extended Abstract

The COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease) health crisis caused many unusual circumstances for both on campus and online programs. On campus programs have converted to remote learning in a two-week period. Regarding Online Programs Institutions have assumed that due to always being online there are no expected issues. In the beginning stages of the COVID-19 crisis the online courses indeed did not encounter many difficulties. However, issues began to arise once institutions required an extension of Spring Break to two weeks and other accommodations for students needed to be established. The course design, course assessments and alignment with OLC Quality Scorecard and/or QM standards played a critical role in an online programs ability to adjust during the time of crisis.  The moment it became obvious that the Spring 2020 was not going to be a typical online semester with the option to go pass/fail the more anxious students and faculty have become in addressing individual student needs and concerns of academic standing.

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) Health Informatics Online Program has found that the crisis management varied based on individual courses design and assessments. The factors influencing the Programs ability to deal with crisis management depend on the following: 1) course design, 2) amount of student interaction, 3) the alignment to online standards (OLC Scorecard and Quality Matters) and 4) amount of faculty online teaching training. Each factor played a role at various levels of the crisis management strategy in the Health Informatics Online Program.

The presentation will focus on the experiences of the COVID-19 crisis management ability based on the comparison of two online competency courses at the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) that have differed in: 1) traditional individual assignment with group discussion vs. project-based learning, 2)amount of student interaction in the course and amount of online teaching standards met for Quality Matters and OLC Scorecard. Finally, the faculty themselves differed in the amount of Online Teaching Certification Training received. One faculty member received initial online training once 8 years ago from an institution vs. another faculty member who has continued training continuously with OLC Teaching Certifications and Quality Matters. Though both experienced challenges at some level. The experience of one faculty member was more extreme and stressful than the other faculty member.

In conclusion, the University of Illinois-Chicago (UIC) Health Informatics Online Program has found a significant difference between traditional course design and project-based learning. The faculty member with only initial training experienced challenges as the course was set up for traditional weekly activities that included activities of discussion and individual assignments. The participation requirements which was dependent on a traditional scheduled allowed little to no room for accommodations even though the course self-assessed by the instructor met the Quality Matters and OLC Scorecard Standards. The second instructor, who continued Online Teaching Training through the Advanced Online Teaching Certification and has applied project-based learning but didn’t fully meet all OLC Scorecard and Quality Matters standards had some benefits for the COVID-19 crisis management. The activities lack of required and only voluntary interaction provided the flexibility to convert the course to a more self-paced course with delayed asynchronous learning. At the end the students have learned to appreciate the project-based learning format and the flexibility to work at their own pace and apply the learning at their schedule. Due to the stress of the crisis management though interaction was voluntary the students began responding with delayed responses and have been dependent on their colleagues who work ahead for assistance in completing the course activities. The students build respect for each other’s work outside the classroom and applied it to the topic being studied in the classroom. The crisis management was achieved due to continued training in Online Teaching and learning new ways and tools for course activities which allowed smoother transition in the time of crisis. The faculty member with limited Online Training became dependent on their colleague with more training for ideas and suggestions on instructional design and content management during the crisis. The COVID-19 crisis management has shown that faculty require continuous online teaching and preferably learning the basics of Instructional Design training. This allows faculty to understand what options based on the tools available by the institution best meet the crisis management scenario. In conclusion, the End of Course evaluations have shown the student support for project-based learning in a self-paced format by scoring the faculty member with project-based learning with a 4.6 on a 5 point Likert scale for teaching effectiveness with qualitative comments of appreciation for easing the stress during the COVID crisis.