Model for Professional Development and Course Quality in Online Teaching

The Challenge: What Resources to Draw On When Planning Online Learning

When developing online courses it is often difficult, as an instructor, to determine which resources to connect with at different points of the process. From an administrative perspective, it can also be difficult to determine which supports to invest in and plan for, in order to maximize our impact. As we continue to expand and grow our online course offerings it is essential to provide guidance to faculty, administrators, and course developers about which resources to leverage, and when.

About This Model

This model provides a decision matrix and flow diagram for faculty and administrators as they develop online learning experiences. Designed to leverage existing and emerging opportunities for faculty development, it also allows for short-term scale-up and long-term use in terms of developing new courses, and in updating and revising existing courses. In this sense it aids in moving toward an approach to teaching and learning that relies on continuous quality improvement through tinkering, assessing and revising.

At the heart of the model are a series of professional development opportunities that serve as a sort of menu for faculty members depending on which track they take. The opportunities include Course Development Experiences which help those in the process of developing a new course or module; or Teaching Enrichment Experiences which allow someone to revise, research, add to, or otherwise enhance the work they are already doing online.

This model is meant to be customized for specific units to suit their needs, with governance around which experiences count determined by a group within each unit.

Quality Check Through Peer Review

The model also relies on peer review as being an essential part of the course development and offering process. Peer review is important at both the formative and summative stages of online course development. During the formative stage of peer review participants are put into small groups of 3-4 colleagues. Each member of the team reviews each course in the group using a rubric designed to support review at this pre-offering stage.

After the formative review, each participant creates a short revision plan that outlines how they will use the feedback to enhance their course further. Once the course has been offered, each faculty member will join a second review group for the summative review process. This process uses a larger rubric that includes elements from the formative review as well as elements that expand upon the work that is done while teaching an online course.

Building on the formative feedback and lessons learned during the course offering, this summative rubric (Quality Matters) assesses courses on the following categories: Course Overview and Introduction, Learning Objectives (Competencies), Assessment and Measurement, Instructional Materials, Learning Activities and Learner Interaction, Course Technology, Learner Support, and Accessibility and Usability.

Like the formative review, the summative review also requires a revision plan in order to assist faculty with implementing peer review.

After the summative review process is complete the model allows for a credentialing process that is based on the competency achieved by the participant shown by the artifacts (activities, courses, peer reviews) their experiences helped them to create. The credentialing process could include further funding or development opportunities, a digital badge program, or credit toward promotion/tenure depending on the institution’s goals and culture.

CAL PD for Online flow outline

Author: Scott Schopieray
Contributors: Bill Hart-Davidson, Kate Sonka, Stephen Thomas & Jeremy Van Hof