Goals play a critical role in any educational program. The University of Southern Indiana (USI), like so many other organizations, recognizes this and developed strategic goals related to their efforts, including:
- To provide excellence in learning for the entire USI community.
- To create access and opportunity by design.
- To engage in purposeful and sustainable growth.
Once goals are established, it’s important to identify ways of achieving those goals. As Laura Cole, USI’s Senior Instructional Designer for Online Learning, shares, one way USI is working to meet its goals is by “expanding our portfolio of online courses, programs, and online initiatives.” To do this, Online Learning at USI designed and developed a professional development program for its online faculty — the Online Course Development Program (OCDP). And they are tapping into several QM resources to help.
The University begins with professional development. As Laura explains, “Once faculty members are accepted into the OCDP program, they are required to attend a QM Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) workshop.” After they complete the APPQMR workshop, faculty are enrolled in a twelve-week internal online course, which coincides with the design and development of their own online course. This course, in addition to the APPQMR, gives faculty the chance to experience what it feels like to be an online learner. They also get to experience various technologies and design methods that could be used in their online courses. Throughout the course, faculty meet regularly with an instructional designer who serves as a guide, provides support, and assesses the progress of their course development.
Once a course is fully designed and developed, another important QM tool comes into play. As Larissa Cremeens, USI’s Senior Instructional Designer, shares, “QM Internal Reviews serve as the capstone for the OCDP. They help to ensure that the courses being developed through the OCDP carry a high level of quality.” USI instructional designers work with at least one external subject matter expert (SME) reviewer and one internal reviewer to complete an Internal Review for each course. This process is very collaborative, especially during the reviewer and course developer meeting. As Larissa describes, “During the meeting, we discuss the feedback provided in the QM Report Draft with the course developer. This meeting gives all the parties involved the opportunity to clarify any concerns, answer questions, and discuss ideas to make the course even better. If the faculty does not meet QM Standards, the chair of the group (USI instructional designer) works with the instructor to help him/her meet the Standards.”
USI describes the experience of using Internal Reviews as “very positive.” According to Larissa, these reviews help foster communication between faculty and instructional designers and create paths for new relationships to form. In fact, Larissa says that on many occasions the SME’s and faculty share contact information after the review.
With over 150 Internal Reviews under their belt — with an impressive average score of 93.44 — the University is now moving toward QM-Managed Official Course Reviews. They not only want to give faculty the opportunity to have their courses QM-Certified, they also want to free up some time for their instructional designers. As Laura explains, “Transitioning to QM-Managed Official Reviews will free up our instructional designers’ time and thus allow time to work with more faculty within each cohort and to focus more on the development of online programs.” Ultimately, that helps them meet their strategic goal of creating more access and opportunity for learners. If you'd like more information about how to combine professional development with QM review tools to create quality learning experiences for your learners, contact our Membership Services team.