Quality in Online Learning
As with face-to-face instruction, it is important to measure quality in online instruction. Online course design quality rubrics are helpful for use in determining how well an online course meets specific quality benchmarks. Effective assessment and evaluation are useful in determining whether or not the online course you teach is meeting course objectives and learning outcomes. The use of effective assessment also determines whether the academic standards and learning outcomes from your online course match the standards and outcomes set for the course in face-to-face settings.
University Resources for Faculty
Texas State is dedicated to assisting faculty in developing technologically enhanced online courses that are of the same content and quality standards found in on-campus courses, as well as standards unique to distance learning.
Support for Departmental Faculty
Instructional Technologies Support (ITS) provides departmental faculty and the Texas State University community instruction, leadership, and support for all phases of instructional design, development, and deployment. ITS offers knowledgeable and professional guidance, tools, and products, while implementing all appropriate technologies for teaching and learning, to help resolve instructional challenges. Visit the ITS website for more information.
Support for Correspondence and Extension Faculty
The Office of Distance and Extended Learning offers correspondence and extension faculty the support of an instructional designer, who can work with faculty in designing, developing or improving online or hybrid correspondence or extension courses by utilizing research-based best practices in online education. Furthermore, the instructional designer can collaborate with you by evaluating the course and teaching methods and by assisting you in implementing technologies into the online course. For more information, contact the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.
The Office of Distance and Extended Learning recommends using feedback from your students to determine what areas of your course need improvement. Providing students with a survey within the first few weeks of the course is beneficial for both you and your students. Once feedback has been received, you can make the necessary improvements to further enhance quality in the remainder of your course.
An end-of-course-evaluation for students is always useful in advancing your online or hybrid course. Texas State University has implemented end-of-course evaluations for all undergraduate distance education courses offered through the academic departments, to demonstrate compliance with House Bill 2504. A Faculty Senate committee created an end-of-course evaluation, the Student Perceptions of Instruction, which is required for all undergraduate lecture and seminar courses and their instructors teaching on-campus, off-campus, and via distance education (although correspondence and extension courses are excluded from this requirement). For more information on the end-of-course evaluations, visit the HB 2504: Faculty and Staff web page.
In self-paced distance education courses, communicate with students asynchronously, provide them with opportunities for feedback as they progress through the course, and provide them with course evaluations upon their completion of the course materials.
Use student feedback and evaluations to improve course design and pedagogy whether teaching semester-based or self-paced distance education courses.
Consult with an experienced online educator for peer feedback on your course. Asking another faculty member for advice can help you improve course quality and provide you with support and collaboration, as you can share in the faculty member’s struggles and successes. Texas State has created an online community for distance education faculty to communicate and collaborate with one another through the Teaching Online Listserv.
Self-Assessment of Your Course
The Best Practices Checklist is required for all electronic and online courses and serves as an agreement between the university and instructors that the highest quality electronic or online instructional materials are delivered to students. The Best Practices Checklist can be a useful tool for evaluating the quality of your online or hybrid course, in addition to the Checklist’s essential role in ensuring that quality standards in online learning are being met at our university in compliance with SACSCOC and THECB requirements. The Checklist is based on established quality measures for electronically delivered courses affirmed by the Online Learning Consortium (formerly the Sloan Consortium), Quality Matters, SACSCOC, and THECB. Use the Best Practices Checklist after designing your course to ensure that your course meets established quality standards and to ensure Texas State’s continued compliance with distance education regulations.
Texas State University is a subscribing institution to Quality Matters, and the Office of Distance and Extended Learning recommends using the Quality Matters Rubric.
If you have any questions regarding the use of this rubric in the development of your online course, please contact the Office of Distance and Extended Learning.
Online Learning Consortium (OLC)
The Online Learning Consortium (formerly Sloan-C) “is the leading professional online learning society devoted to advancing quality e-Education learning into the mainstream of education through its community.” OLC provides a breadth of information on best practices in online education and certification of quality in online education for hybrid and online courses. OLC also provides a variety of workshops as well as membership to an online community of educators who are dedicated to creating quality online and distance education.