Sharing What I Find

Instructional Design and Technology in Education

Quality Matters applied to MOOCs

In an Eli Webinar given on Dec 2, 2013, Deb Adair, Quality Matters’ Managing Director and Chief Planning Officer, presented findings on using the Quality Matters Rubric standards on a specific set of MOOCs. As a requirement for accepting some Gates Foundation funding specifically for creating a MOOCs, fourteen different non-credit bearing courses specifically created on introductory and remedial topics were reviewed. This was QM’s first opportunity to apply rubric standards to MOOCs.

The QM’s reviewers decided to use their rubric standards for Continuing and Professional Education course. This rubric was developed for courses without active instructor facilitation or direct student to student content. Courses that are self-paced, non-credit bearing, or have open enrollment fall into this category. There are reduced expectations for interaction between students and instructors and students and students and well as reduced expectations for institutional support: technical, academic, disability, or general student support. But there are enrichments that are expected: high quality student to content interaction, expanded opportunities for self-assessment and automatic feedback, and a thorough collection and directions to accessing additional resources.

The courses that were reviewed where delivered on a variety of platforms, Blackboard, Udacity, Coursea, D2Learn, and EdX. Of the 12 courses that were completed by the review deadline, 3 met the standards after the first review, 1 met the standards after an amendment, and 1 will meet the standards after changes are made. Several courses that did not meet the standards have opted not to make necessary changes to obtain the QM certification.

What was done well:

  • course overview and introdcution
  • assessment & measurement
  • instructional materials (depth and quality seemed really high)
  • technology – navigation was clear and functional

Missed Standards

  • 50% missed: tech skills expectations clearly stated, articulate course support services, uses accessible technologies
  • 42% missed: Learning outcomes clearly stated, module learning objectives measurable, articulate accessibility policies
  • 33% missed course learning objectives measurable, response time clearly stated
  • *it was determined that many of the accessibilities issues were related to the chosen delivery platform, not necessarily an issue with the way the MOOC was developed.

Bottom line:
It seems like these non-credit bearing MOOCs could easily have obtained certification by addressing some basic policy information that should be standard in any course. communication to student (where to find help, what outcome of finishing the course met)

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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