Sunshine State Stories: Investigating Opportunities and Challenges of Florida’s Online Course Quality Initiative

Concurrent Session 3
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This qualitative research-based presentation will highlight perceived challenges and opportunities related to requirements in the State University System of Florida’s 2025 Strategic Plan for Online Education, which calls for all new and substantively revised courses to undergo a quality certification process that follows Quality Matters course design standards.


Randall Beaver is an Instructional Design Supervisor at Florida International University in Miami, Florida. As a part of FIU Online, he leads a small team to train and collaborate with faculty members in the design and development of their online courses. He is currently a PhD student in the School of Education and Human Development at FIU. He previously earned a Master of Education degree from the University of Florida and undergraduate degrees in anthropology and film production. He has taught ESL/ESOL and video production for learners in K-12 and Adult Education contexts and is the recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently engaged in multiple research projects related to online teaching and learning-- particularly in student and instructor use of video-- and has presented on these topics at various national and international conferences.
Lergia Olivo is an Instructional Design Manager at FIU Online, managing a team of instructional design professionals and collaborating with online and hybrid FIU faculty. Together, the team works to create and support high-quality, engaging courses that meet rigorous quality standards and ensure the educational success of FIU's diverse population of student learners. Lergia is also QM-certified peer reviewer and a 2019 alumna of OLC's Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning (IELOL). Lergia has been a part of the FIU Online team since December 2011, but a Golden Panther since 2006, holding a Bachelor of Arts in English, and a Master of Arts in Linguistics. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Teaching and Learning from FIU's School of Education and Human Development. Additionally, Lergia serves as an adjunct instructor for FIU's Honors College and English Language Institute.

Extended Abstract

Background and Overview

The Florida Board of Governors (BOG) 2025 Strategic Plan calls upon all State University System (SUS) institutions to enhance their levels of teaching, research, and public service with the ultimate goal of improving “excellence, productivity, and priorities for a knowledge economy” (Florida Board of Governors, 2019, p. 11) measured by 21 metrics. “Metric 4: Quality Online Courses,” specifically states that all new and substantively revised online courses must meet Florida standards following an approved review process-- new courses by the end of the first term they’re offered, and existing courses within five years (Florida Board of Governors, 2019, p. 24). While the BOG has outlined the definition and goal of this metric, they have allowed each institution to develop their own plan for successfully achieving the goal. The presenters will share their institution’s strategy, which included the creation of an internal review process that aligned with external Quality Matters review specifications already in place at their institution.

From the point of view of instructional design practitioners and administrators, the presenters explore specific challenges faced by individual stakeholders in the implementation of the plan at their institution as well as possible solutions and new opportunities afforded by the initiative. Potential challenges include: allocating the instructional design support manpower to provide faculty development and support for a large volume of courses; faculty resistance to new requirements laid out by the plan; and the nature of some courses that do not easily lend themselves to alignment with the required quality rubric.

Who will benefit

This session should appeal to anyone involved in the creation, promotion, or implementation of course quality initiatives at their institution. The presenters will describe the steps they are taking to investigate the issue, provide practical tips and lessons learned, and promote a discussion of issues surrounding online course quality certification and related policies. With these session outcomes in mind, the presentation should appeal to a broad audience and be of particular interest to instructional designers, administrators, teachers/faculty, education researchers, and higher education policy makers.

How we'll do it

Using anecdotal experiences, the presenters will share stories of various stakeholders in finding a path to successfully meet the goals of the plan in a manner that accounts for their valuable perspectives. By seeing the statewide quality initiative from multiple lenses, the strategies, opportunities, challenges, and long-term implications can be better assessed. The presenters will draw upon elements of visual storytelling in order to present a narrative that suggests the possibilities of administrators and instructional designers using elements of education research to better understand— and hopefully improve— online teaching practice and policies. The presenters plan to offer an opportunity for attendees to participate through a series of guided questions that can be deployed either in a traditional conference session format or online.


Florida Board of Governors. (2019, October 1). 2025 System Strategic Plan. Retrieved April 23, 2020, from