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Memo To: Dr.

Jack McCullough Vice President, Instruction Maryland Community College From: Fawcett Dunstan Faculty Committee Mem!er, Distance "ducation

Date: Decem!er #, $%#& 'e: ( Case the 'u!ric )or *nline Instruction +'*I, and -ot the .uality Matters +.M, 'u!ric It is /uite ama0ing how )ar this institution has come since the )irst online course was o))ered. There were 1ust a hand)ul o) 2ro)essors teaching online at the college, and these instructors were res2onsi!le )or all o) distance education: its de3elo2ment, design, management, and marketing. 4arasim +$%#$, calls the early ado2ters o) distance education 5the lone rangers6 +2. #$7,. *3er time, the De2artment o) Distance 8earning was )ormed, with the re/uirement

that 2ros2ecti3e online instructor take an intensi3e )our9week online training course. In more recent years, the call )or uni)ormity in online course design has !een echoing )rom the administration. The college has 2ushed to ado2t .uality Matters standards )or online deli3ery and instruction. The rationale is that a course is well designed )or students i) it has !een certi)ied through .uality Matters, a rigorous set o) standards !ased on recent research and !est 2ractices in online learning +Quality matters, $%##,. I understand the college:s e;citement a!out wanting e3ery online course to !e certi)ied through .uality Matters, !ut there are as2ects o) the .uality Matters ru!ric that seem to s/uee0e out instructors: uni/ue a22roach to designing their online courses. 'ather than 1ust settling on the .uality Matters standards without )urther considerations o) other ru!rics o) online standards, why not consider other e3aluati3e ru!rics that adhere to high standards !ut that allow )or more )le;i!ility in course design< The college should consider the

'u!ric o) *nline Instruction +'*I, )or ado2tion instead o) the .uality Matters +.M, ru!ric !ecause it o))ers instructor )reedom in course design, and it is still rigorous in meeting the standards )or online course design. *stensi!ly, the institution:s 2ush toward .M certi)ication )or all online courses is stee2ed in the non92ro)it organi0ation:s 2ledge that its standards are !acked !y research and !est 2ractices in online instruction. De3elo2ed !y Maryland *nline )rom a FIP=" grant, .uality Matters measures eight standards: course o3er3iew and introduction, learning o!1ecti3es, assessment and measurement, instructional materials, learner interaction and engagement, course technology, learner su22ort, and accessi!ility +Quality matters, $%#&,. >ithin these eight areas, there are )orty9one s2eci)ic re3iew standards and twenty9one essential standards +Quality matters, $%#&, 2. #&,. There are also )orty9one s2eci)ic annotations and e;am2les )or each o) the )orty9one standards +Quality matters, $%#&, 2. #&,. In order to !e .M9certi)ied, each standard within the course must achie3e alignment when the teaching 5elements6 match the course:s stated outcomes +Quality matters, $%#&, 2. #7,. Furthermore, each standard is !acked !y research, according to .uality Matters. For instance, the organi0ation notes that the re/uest that students introduce themsel3es at the start o) online courses is !acked !y research +.uality Matters, $%#&,. (nother a22ealing as2ect o) .uality Matters )or this institution may !e the )act that the courses !eing e3aluated )or .M certi)ication are 2eer re3iewed !y other )aculty instead o) !y the administration. =eemingly, this )act may take the sting out o) the 2ush )or all online courses to !e .M certi)ied sooner rather than later. Perha2s )aculty will not 3iew this new re/uirement as a to29down mandate )or online instruction i) )ellow )aculty are the ones e3aluating their course. =till another o) .uality Matters: a22eal to the institution may !e its insistence that its ru!ric is used to e3aluate the design o) the course rather than the /uality o)

instruction. Many researchers endorse the use o) ru!rics in this way to e3aluate courses and 2rograms +?ean, $%#$@ Peirce, $%%A,. There is no argument that the standards used to measure /uality in the design o) online courses are 2resuma!ly sound, !ut is it necessary to ha3e so many standards< In e3aluating the design o) the course, isn:t the /uality o) instruction also 2ut under the microsco2e< In the conte;t o) online instruction, how could course design !e se2arated )rom course instruction< Perha2s the institution should consider another ru!ric that is sim2ler and less intrusi3e o) instructor:s course design. Perha2s the college should consider the 'u!ric )or *nline Instruction +'*I, used !y Cali)ornia =tate Bni3ersity, Chico, which is e/ually rigorous yet sim2ler and less !urdensome than .M:s ru!ric )or )aculty, and it is used to e3aluate the design o) )ully online and hy!rid courses. The '*I was de3elo2ed !y Chico educators to 5to guide course redesign using instructional design 2rinci2les, and to recogni0e instructors who ha3e de3elo2ed e;2ertise in online instruction6 +5'u!ric,6 $%#$,. These goals are /uite similar to those o) .uality Matters, !ut '*I:s ru!ric is sim2ler and gi3es the instructor more control in the course:s design. There are si; categories )or e3aluation, including learner su22ort and ser3ices, online organi0ation and design, instructional design and deli3ery, assessment and e3aluation o) student learning, inno3ati3e teaching with technology, and )aculty use o) )eed!ack +5'u!ric,6 $%%C,. (dditionally, within these categories, there are 1ust three scoring 2ossi!ilities: !aseline, e))ecti3e, and e;em2lary +5'u!ric,6 $%%C,. 'esearch directly su22orts these categories )or e3aluation. For e;am2le, in the )irst category o) learner su22ort and ser3ices, research shows that online students achie3e more academic success and less dro22ing out i) there is a su22orti3e en3ironment where students ha3e access to the su22ort they will need !e)ore, during, and a)ter a course is com2leted +Moisey 4ughes, $%%D,. Furthermore, in the category o) learner su22ort

and ser3ices, a course !eing e3aluated with '*I is gi3en a rating o) 5e;em2lary6 i) there is 5e;tensi3e in)ormation6 )or the student in the course a!out what it means to !e an online learner and i) there are also links to cam2us ser3ices +5'u!ric,6 $%%C,. In )act, all o) the categories su22ort the !est 2ractices research )or online learning in some way +?oettcher, $%##@ Moisey 4ughes, $%%D,. (dditionally, the categories are not !uried in cum!ersome su!categories like .M. The categories are sim2le and straight)orward, yet com2rehensi3e. For instance, the '*I has a category )or 5)aculty use o) )eed!ack6 that is not readily e3ident in the .M ru!ric. "ither that category does not e;ist in .M or it is !uried in one o) the )orty9one s2eci)ic standards. Finally, the most im2ortant reason why the institution should consider the '*I ru!ric )or online course e3aluation is !ecause it allows instructors to ha3e more control o3er the design and deli3ery o) their course while at the same time maintaining rigorous standards )or course e3aluation. *tte and ?enke +$%%A, note that the o2timum model )or leadershi2 and organi0ation in higher education is when )aculty ha3e the )reedom to gra3itate to 2rograms where 52edagogical ownershi2 is at the le3el o) the teacher6 while at the same time !eing su22orted !y the institution +2. $A,. The '*I ru!ric will allow )or more 2edagogical ownershi2 while maintaining the rigor re/uired )or course e3aluation. ?ecause o) the ra2idly changing nature o) technology in this digital age, there is no dou!t that online courses need to adhere to agreed u2on standards to ensure student success. 4owe3er, adherence to the standards may !e achie3ed in many di))erent ways . The administration needs to work with )aculty to )ind a delicate !alance o) uni)ormity and 2edagogical )reedom that will make all o) the stakeholders in online education ha22y. Too much uni)ormity and lack o) instructor control may lead to 2rotest @ too much )aculty res2onsi!ility will lead to e;2loitation +*tte ?enke, $%%A, 2. $D,. The use o) the '*I instead o) the .M ru!ric will !e a make the

institution ha22y with its rigorous standards that are su22orted !y research. It will e/ually make )aculty ha22y !ecause it will allow )or more )aculty control in instructional design.

'e)erences ?ean, J. C. +$%##,. Engaging ideas: The professors guide to integrating writing, critical thinking, and active learning in the classroom +$nd ed.,. =an Francisco, C(: John >iley =ons. ?oettcher, J.V. +$%##,. Ten !est 2ractices )or teaching online /uick guide )or new online )aculty. Design for Learning. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2:EEdesigning)orlearning.in)oEser3icesEwritingEecoachEten!est.html. 4arasim, 8. +$%#$,. Learning theory and online technologies. -ew Fork: 'outledge. Moisey, =. D. 4ughes, J. (. +$%%D,. =u22orting the online learner. In T. (nderson +"d.,, The

theory and practice of online learning +$nd ed, 22. 7#C97&C,. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2:EEwww.au2ress.caE!ooksE#$%#7AEe!ookECCGH(ndersonH$%%D9 TheoryHandHPracticeHo)H*nlineH8earning.2d). *tte, I. ?enke, M. +$%%A,. *nline learning: -ew models )or leadershi2 and organi0ation in

higher education. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2s:EElearn.umuc.eduEd$lEleEcontentED7CAE3iewContentEDC%%%EView. Peirce, >. +$%%A,. Designing ru!rics )or assessing higher order thinking. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2:EEacademic.2gcc.eduEJw2eirceEMCCCT'EDesigningru!ricsassessingthinking.html. Quality matters ru ric work ook for higher education. +$%##,. (nna2olis, Maryland: Maryland *nline. Quality matters. +$%#&,. Maryland *nline. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2s:EEwww./ualitymatters.orgE.

'u!ric )or online instruction. +$%%C,. C=B, !hico. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2:EEwww.csuchico.eduEtl2EresourcesEru!ricEru!ric.2d). 'u!ric )or online instruction. +$%#$,. !"#, !hico. 'etrie3ed )rom htt2:EEwww.csuchico.eduEroiE.