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Instructional Design and Technology in Education

Course Improvement

Online learning is getting increasingly scurtinized as its popularity grows. Many higher education units are looking at their online courses and programs to make sure they don’t get added to the “paper mill” category.

A recent article outlined an improvement program at the Open Campus at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

The eQuality program looks at quality from four different perspectives, which the Open Campus calls the four pillars of program
quality, and has qualitative and quantitative assessments for each.

  1. Quality Courses — The quality checks in this area ensure the courses provide a sound learning environment, implement best practices in online learning, meet
    college requirements for academic rigor, and reflect all official
    curriculum requirements.
  2. Quality Instruction — The quality checks in this area ensure sound instructional approaches and techniques for reducing the transactional distance in online
  3. Quality Support — The quality checks in this area focus on those elements outside the courses that make the teaching and learning experience easier and more
    fulfilling, including, technical support, student advisement, faculty
    training, and staff training and development.
  4. Quality Administration — The quality checks in this area examine the policies, procedures, guidelines, and other interactions between the institution and the staff, faculty, and
    students. The goal is to minimize the organizational barriers to student
    success, student satisfaction, and faculty satisfaction. This pillar is
    by far the most complicated to manage and improve, Schilke says.

“The most successful quality programs ensure they provide their stakeholders with the right tools to succeed,’ says Schilke. “In online learning this means giving your faculty, staff, and students the
technology, knowledge, and skills to do their respective jobs as
effectively and efficiently as possible.’

CDE engaged in a Quality Improvement two years ago and follows these guidelines. This guide has helped to improve our course quality and has helped to increase successful completion by students. But more can be done in the support and administration areana. Let’s hope that the Board of Regents request to “fix distance ed” and the statewide efforts that came from that request begin to show some results.


Author: Heidi Olson

Heidi enjoys working with content experts in developing eCampus courses to provide alternatives for students. Her other interests include faculty training in best practices for eCampus and researching eCampus tools to help fulfill learning outcomes. Having worked in the distance education arena for over 20 years, she has a wide range of experiences in supporting students and faculty as technology and pedagogy evolve.

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