New Dog, Old Tricks: Bridging Old and New Quality Assurance Practices for Large-Scale Digital Learning

Concurrent Session 6
Streamed Session

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Session Materials

Brief Abstract

This presentation will describe the quality assurance practices at Bellevue University and explain how these practices have been revamped to incorporate national and university-specific design standards and editing standards. Attendees will be able to map, plan, and brainstorm innovative ways to incorporate quality assurance into their own departments and institutions.


Biz Rapp is an Instructional Designer at Bellevue University in Bellevue, Nebraska. She received her master's degree from Purdue University in Learning Design and Technology. Biz works to design courses, from initial development phases to the final build, alongside deans, program directors, faculty. and content developers. She also holds a co-editing position within the BU Design and Development department, reviewing and assisting others with course content. Prior to her work at Bellevue, Biz taught courses in composition and business communication at Midstate College in central Illinois and spent 5 years as a writing specialist in Metropolitan Community College Writing Centers.
Katie E. Ostdiek is an Instructional Designer at Bellevue University (BU) and a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature at the University of Iowa. As an Instructional Designer, Ostdiek builds interactive lessons and activities and collaborates with faculty to design and build online courses. She also serves as the co-editor for BU’s Department of Design and Development by reviewing and copyediting course content. Prior to her work at BU, Ostdiek taught composition, rhetoric, and literature for 5 years at the University of Iowa and for 3 years at the University of Kansas.

Extended Abstract

Successful, large-scale, online learning in higher education may feel like a new dog, but unlike the old adage, in this session we demonstrate it’s not only possible but crucial that we adapt “old” editing and quality assurance practices to the new processes involved in online course development to ensure student success. 

As online learning becomes a more predominant form of learning in higher education, institutions struggle to balance the elusive objective of creating high-quality and scalable courses. This is evident in the emerging conversations within Higher Ed today that focus on growing concerns over the quality of online higher education. As Denise M. Casey (2008) notes, distance and online courses are often "subject to more [quality-related] suspicion" than other styles of education (p.45), which only increases the need for clearer standards, rules, and guidelines for eLearning teams and departments. Furthermore, if we accept the premise that designing online learning experiences, like any design process, is a highly contextualized act that requires subjective interpretation and value judgments on the part of the designer, then we must also admit that consistency, and by extension quality, will be a problem for any large-scale development. When the quality of learning materials declines, it affects student success. When the quantity of learning materials declines, it affects student accessibility. This problem requires rethinking the instructional design and development process to find solutions so that the student doesn’t suffer. 

Our institution has redesigned the build and review process for courses in order to improve the student experience, decrease help desk ticket submissions, and improve efficiencies in the design process for scalability and deceased course build timelines. We will outline our course build steps, showcase templates used during the build process, and address how to adapt “best practices” to meet quality standards and institutional needs.

In our presentation, we will share our experiences, processes, and resources, as innovators in this field. We will model our steps toward course design and quality assurance and demonstrate how collaboration across disciplines and institutions can cultivate successful online learning. If you are interested in updating, enhancing, or remodeling your development for online learning, this presentation will inspire as well as offer helpful tips on quality assurance.

Audience Engagement:

We will use phone-based polls throughout the presentation that allow attendees to engage in the common problems, questions, and disputes we’ve encountered in our quality assurance process. We’ll utilize actual examples from course development to engage audience members in relevant discussions of process and design. Participants will reflect on these examples and will have the opportunity to consider how best to implement quality assurance processes in their own work. Additionally, speakers will provide examples of quality assurance resources (e.g., quality checklist, editing guide, etc.). During the 10-minute Q&A session, participants will share their reflections, questions, and ideas in small groups. In the last few minutes, the small groups will have the opportunity to share with the larger audience. 

Presentation Takeaways: 

Attendees who participate in this session will be able to:

  • Define quality as it relates to online courses.

  • Examine how course design processes help insure quality online courses.

  • Identify ways to implement strategic collaboration in quality assurance processes.

  • Differentiate between quality review practices through the study of examples from actual development processes.

  • Develop a model for quality course/eLearning design that can be implemented at their institution.