Designing a Tracking System to Ensure Quality, High-Volume Course Development Sloan-C/ALN Conference November, 2005 Nicola Martinez Susan Oaks
Presentation Overview Objectives: Identify & discuss issues related to high-volume course development Offer ideas on retaining quality while dealing with volume Evoke questions related to what constitutes quality in online courses Inspire discussion of an inclusive process (instructional designers, faculty, staff) of resource development Demonstrate CourseTrak database designed to deal with quality and volume issues
Empire State College Multiple locations around New York State The Center for Distance Learning (CDL) serves adult students around the world
Center for Distance Learning Offers online courses in five, 15-week semesters per year Leading enroller in SUNY Learning Network Partners with eArmyU, Navy, labor unions, public & private organizations Offers degree programs in eleven areas of study: The Arts, Business, Human Services, Humanities & Cultural Studies, Educational Studies, History, Human Development, Labor Studies, Science- Math-Technology, Social Theory-Structure-Change
Context: Rapid Online Growth Increase in f/t faculty from 8 to 20 (and growing) within the past three years; parallel increase in numbers of courses offered New Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design responsible for managing a team of designers to shepherd faculty through the course development process and coordinate instructional support Development of new courses coupled with implementation of a revision cycle for existing online courses
Center for Distance Learning Course Statistics 350 distinct online courses, many with multiple sections 46 courses developed/revised for Sept 03 50+ courses developed or revised for Jan 04 68 courses developed or revised for Sept 04 70 courses developed or revised for Jan 05 55+ courses in development or revision for Sept 05 65 courses in development or revision for Jan 06 Over 6,000 enrollments per term all courses on a two year revision cycle managed using the CourseTrak system
Coursetrak An interactive database designed to: Integrate information for all participants Create a public record from course proposal through course development, review, offering, and revision Foster collaboration through its public nature Facilitate course review and evaluation
Coursetrak: A Community of Practice Information becomes readily available All users can follow the track of the discussion Substantive discussions can occur re: course content and approach Faculty and instructional designers contribute ideas The community can expand, with access provided to course developers and reviewers
CourseTrak Community Members Curriculum Committee All CDL Faculty Curriculum & Instructional Design Groups Staff All have access to CourseTrak database at appropriate times
Curriculum Committee Representative committee of faculty from 4 main groups of study (business, human services, humanities, science-math-technology) Oversees policies & procedures for course development Reviews/approves specific course proposals Identifies curricular issues on the course and overall curricular levels
All CDL Faculty Coursetrak: Reminds course developer/Area Coordinator of required information, objectives, content, and learning activities in course proposals Requires rationale for new courses in terms of academic skills, student population, etc. Invites other faculty collaboration, including adjunct faculty involved in the course development process Facilitates quality review
Curriculum & Instructional Design Group Advises faculty on curriculum development Shepherds developers through the development cycle Provides pedagogical, assessment, and instructional development training as needed Designs course development processes Facilitates team development sessions Aligns support for course developers Assures academic excellence and design quality of courses Oversees program evaluation and improvements
Course Development Teams Made up of different configurations of faculty, instructional designers, librarians, including: An Area Coordinator (f/t faculty responsible for curriculum in a particular area of study) A Coordinator of Instructional Design & Curriculum Development One or more Course Developers (content expert/s who develops course content & assessment activities) One or more Instructional Designers A Multimedia Instructional Designer A Librarian
Staff Staff access CourseTrak at appropriate places in the term preparation cycle to access information for: Books & materials ordering for the course Course descriptions for listing in the course catalog Course availability for each terms listing & scheduling Generic course evaluation information for the students narrative transcript evlauation
Wergin argues that: the desire to belong, to feel part of a nurturing community, one in which the faculty member has an important role to play never goes away. themes of engagement, critical reflection, and honest collegiality (p.121) are very relevant to the problem of engaging adjunct faculty.
CourseTrak: A Staged Process 1.Course Concept Discussion/feedback from Area Coordinators(f/t faculty) 2.Course Proposal Discussion/feedback from Area Coordinators, Course Development Teams 3.Course Review/Approval by Curriculum Committee Feedback listed publically 4.Course Review/Rating by Instructional Design Team
Throughout the Process: Asynchronous, threaded discussion of entries Curriculum Committee uses the data Instructional Designers assess course and developer needs Creates a visible history of a course
Course Proposal Information Course content summary Catalog description Prerequisites Needs assessment/rationale/audience Course topics/learning objectives Texts and materials Assignment description Academic skills development Development plan SUNY General Education Requirements
Instructional Design Perspective For large-scale development of pedagogically and academically sound courses, instructional designers need to work with course developers to ensure: Active learning Media-rich content Student interaction Opportunities for teaching, social and cognitive presence
Instructional Design Approach Develop a new standard for course information documents and implement them in the courses Create a new design for courses to increase navigability and overall consistencies in look, feel, format Encourage experimentation with design to further link course structure with content Enrich courses with multimedia components and other graphic enhancements Include library referenced materials in all courses, with at least one library-based learning activity per course Identify and implement best practices in the pursuit of academic and pedagogical excellence in online course development for adult learners
Course Development Resources and Support Examples of Resources and Support Provided to Developers Instructional design assistance Pedagogical advice Library review of course & research assignments Assistance designing learning activities, assessments of learning Media-rich content identification Multimedia learning objects Website identification, evaluation, & compilation Digital image identification Best practice examples provided
The Course Resource Needs Analysis Table 1. Tier 1 Ratings Legend Information captured in the Course Resource Needs Analysis Form is used to generate work requests for technical assistance library assistance multimedia learning object creation digital media research and implementation and instructional design/pedagogical support, among other things.
Best Practices Promote Deep, Collaborative, & Visual Learning Knowles (1998) & Wlodkowski (1993) Students know why learning is required Students direct their learning Students learn to apply theory to reality Students realize successful learning Lave & Wenger (1991) Students learn through collaboration Zull (2002) Students learn through imagesmuch work has focused on incorporating images into text-based courses
Visual Pedagogy What Images Give Us We can visualize the world with our eyes closed. Neuroscience doesnt have a complete explanation of these images yet, but there is little doubt that they begin with physical maps consisting of connected neurons in the brain. Our brains are full of such networks, and it seems certain that what we call thinking and remembering is based on them. (Zull, 144) Images and Academics Given the centrality of images, it seems that teachers could make extensive use of images to help people learn. If we can convert an idea into an image, we should do so. And whenever possible, we should require our students to show us their images. It should go both ways. Zull, James E. The Art of Changing the Brain: Enriching the Practice of Teaching by Exploring the Biology of Learning. Sterling, Virginia: Stylus Publishing, 2002 visual pedagogy:
Course Review Process We established a three-tiered categorization of courses based on the inclusion of the above recommendations and the application of a new course design. All new and revised courses are reviewed an assigned the following ratings:
Course Rating System Table 1. Tier 1 Ratings Legend Tier information and classification is generated as a result of the information captured in The Empire State College Online Course Evaluation Checklist. All courses are considered unrated until they have been reviewed with this instrument. The evaluation piece associated with The Empire State College Online Course Evaluation Checklist happens at several levels.
Online Course Evaluation Checklist Table 1. Tier 1 Ratings Legend Administered during and after a new course has been developed, before delivery Before an old course is revised to identify specific areas targeted for improvement After an old course has been revised to ensure that it is complete and meets all baseline criteria for a Tier 3 course http://www.esc.edu/coursetrak
Focus on Quality Assurance Establish baseline criteria for courses Evaluate and review courses Track performance Capture data Make necessary adjustments to courses Create a data driven analysis Develop a report Make recommendations Improve process & performance using results
Applicability to Other Institutions Level of instructional support Number of faculty developing new courses Number of new faculty needing intense support How to integrate the system with other relevant systems Access control and security issues Analyze your assumptions
Questions ? Nicola.Martinez@esc.edu Director of Curriculum and Instructional Design Susan.Oaks@esc.edu Associate Professor, Writing & Literature
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