DELTA Expands Online Course Quality Efforts

Christine Cranford writes down important notes during a face-to-face meeting of the Online Course Improvement Program in spring 2019. Christine is sitting at a table with other people in the distance.

Christine Cranford writes down important notes during a face-to-face meeting of the Online Course Improvement Program in spring 2019.

DELTA is taking the lead to ensure online course quality at NC State. With 16 Quality Matters-certified courses in less than two years, our commitment to quality is stronger than ever. 

We’re expanding our online course quality efforts to include multiple pathways for faculty members to improve their online and blended courses. The new initiative is called the Course Quality Pathways which is rooted in the principles of Quality Matters (QM), a nationally recognized, standards-based rubric and process focused on continuous improvement of online and blended courses and programs.

“We wanted to expand out and offer our services to faculty who need support in their online course design and course quality assurance,” says Bethanne Tobey, lead instructional designer and NC State QM coordinator. 

Pathways to Online Course Quality

DELTA is currently facilitating its fourth cohort of faculty in the Online Course Improvement Program (OCIP), a professional development opportunity to work with DELTA instructional designers and technologists to improve their courses to meet QM standards and receive official course certification. 

Now, with the new Course Quality Pathways, OCIP is just one part of the whole program. 

All faculty members interested in a pathway start with the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshop to learn the foundational, research-based course design standards. The workshop is offered twice a semester as an in-person and online session. 

After completing the APPQMR, faculty members can choose which pathway they want to take to set their course and students up for success. The options are the QM Essentials Pathway or the QM Certification Pathway. 

The QM Essentials Pathway includes a new program called the QM Essentials Standards Program (QMESP) where faculty build knowledge and skills to improve one of their online courses. The participants attend workshops and course quality consultations to help them design their course to meet the essential standards of the QM higher education rubric.

After completion of QMESP, faculty submit their courses for an internal course review where upon successful review they receive a certificate of completion and a badge to display in their course. 

The QM Certification Pathway is a more rigorous professional development opportunity where faculty take part in OCIP and commit at least 60 hours to face-to-face meetings, online discussion and designing and applying improvements to their online courses. Participants in the QM Certification Pathway work to apply all the QM rubric standards to their course. 

After completion of OCIP, faculty submit their courses for an official QM-managed course review where an independent third party assess the quality of work in online course design. If the course meets the requirements, it is officially QM certified. 

And finally, faculty members who complete either pathway are encouraged to continue to the Wolfpack Peer Reviewer Pathway to join the pool of peer reviewers at NC State. Upon completion, faculty are able to serve on internal review teams as well as official QM course review within the UNC System and outside of NC State. 

Each of these pathways, workshops and other initiatives are led and facilitated by the Course Quality team which includes Christopher Beeson, Vince Lastreto, Arlene Mendoza-Moran, Rebecca Sanchez, Bethany Smith and Bethanne Tobey — a mix of instructional designers and instructional technologists. 

“This is the first time at DELTA we’ve made a concerted effort to work across units on course design. The strong partnership between both groups is really exciting,” Tobey adds. 

Internal Resources and External Outreach

In addition to the Course Quality Program, the team has been working on a variety of resources including a syllabus template and course shell to further expand the online course quality efforts at NC State and to impact the institution as a whole. 

The syllabus template will support the standards of the QM rubrics and the course shell in Moodle gives faculty a solid framework to begin building their course. The course shell will likely be available in Moodle in spring 2020. 

As far as external initiatives, Tobey and Director of Instructional Innovation Services David Howard hold leadership positions on the UNC System QM Council where they work to establish a more unified approach to QM within the system. 

Tobey also receives impromptu questions from others in the UNC System about how DELTA’s Course Quality Program works. Tobey happily shares her insights to help other schools establish similar programs. 

Looking Forward

The dedication of the faculty members involved in the Course Quality initiatives are what will drive the program to success. 

In particular, Christine Cranford and Julianne Treme have gone above and beyond by creating different levels of faculty support including ambassadors, outreach and mentors. The pair hopes to present at the QM regional conference in New York City this spring. 

Many of the faculty members who have received funds from participating in OCIP are using the money to attend conferences to spread the word about NC State’s QM efforts. 

DELTA is also in the early planning stages of working with the Leadership in the Public Sector bachelor’s completion program to submit a full program certification. 

As DELTA continues to leverage innovative pedagogy and technology in the pursuit of student success, we’ll also continue to lead the way and deliver on our promise of promoting high-quality education to all learners through the Course Quality Program.