Quality online course development

engaged instructor talking to students about something on the computer

A substantial body of literature is available for developing quality online courses. A common theme for quality online course offerings is identified as finding ways to have students actively engage in their learning in the online setting. Jonassen’s (1994) article is the main key of the theme, followed by a list of articles referencing specific elements that could be included in quality online courses. Citations to articles that provide resources for developing online courses as well as rubrics assessing the effectiveness of the developed course are also provided.

 

Principles of effective course design:
What I wish I had known about learning-centered teaching 30 years ago

Whetten, D. A. (2007). Principles of effective course design: What I wish I had known about learning-centered teaching 30 years ago. Journal of Management Education, 31(3), 339-357.

In this article, Whetten provided information relevant to learning-centered course design, stating that the most effective faculty focus on course design. The structural framework he included listed three major points: high level learning objectives, learning activities, and learning assessments. Students are motivated to learn when they are taught to apply content, when they receive developmental feedback, and when learning activities that foster student engagement are provided.

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Technology as cognitive tools:
Learners as designers

Jonassen, D. H. (1994). Technology as cognitive tools: Learners as designers. ITForum Paper, 1, 67-80.

Jonassen suggested having students use technology as an instructional tool to build knowledge by having them represent/express what they know as this promotes students’ engagement in learning. In this article, he hypothesized that “The people who learn the most from the design & development of instructional materials are the designers.”

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Critical elements
for quality online courses

Faculty professional development
for quality online teaching

Alexiou-Ray, J., & Bentley, C. C. (2015). Faculty professional development for quality online teaching. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 18(4).

Alexiou-Ray and Bentley reviewed articles and provided themes of quality online courses, which include (a) critical elements (e.g., assessment) (b) instructional best practices (e.g., active engagement, intentionality), and (c) building learning modules. The authors also included an example of how to incorporate these themes into the actual development of an online course.

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Factors for successful evolution and sustainability
of quality distance education

Angolia, M. G., & Pagliari, L. R. (2016). Factors for successful evolution and sustainability of quality distance education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 19(3).

Angolia and Pagliari researched the factors that are necessary for successful quality online course development, which include preparing for infrastructure and pedagogy components, as well as faculty’s openness to adopting new technologies.

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Adding Some Tec-Variety:
100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online

Bonk, C. J., & Khoo, E. (2014). Adding Some Tec-Variety: 100+ Activities for Motivating and Retaining Learners Online. OpenWorldBooks.com and Amazon CreateSpace.

Bonk and Khoo provided 100+ activities for motivating and retaining learners online, along with the framework to organize the course work with an R2D2 model (i.e., read, reflect, display, and do) and TEC-VARIETY (i.e., tone/climate, encouragement, curiosity, variety, autonomy, relevance, interactivity, engagement, tension, yielding products).

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Students' perceptions of quality
across four course development models

Brown, V. S., Toussaint, M., & Lewis, D. (2018). Students' perceptions of quality across four course development models. Online Learning, 22(2), 173-195.

Students (N=324) rated their online courses using a survey based on the Quality Matters Rubric standards that instructors and designers use to develop their courses. Courses developed with the help of an instructional designer were rated better than courses developed by faculty alone on quality and all QM standards, whether the faculty had course development training or not.

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Students’ perceptions of synchronous sessions
within online courses in higher education

Carver, L. B., & Lamb, J. A. (2018). Students’ perceptions of synchronous sessions within online courses in higher education. Advances in Social Sciences Research Journal, 5(7), 220-227.

53 graduate students enrolled in online classes that included optional synchronous sessions with their instructor responded to a survey about the usefulness of those sessions. The sessions were deemed very useful in helping students master the material, especially as they were recorded for those who could not attend. In those sessions, students preferred the instructors to focus on explaining course expectations, assignment, content, and nurture group work, rather than respond to student questions better handled via email.

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An analysis of evaluative comments in teachers’ online discussions
of representations of practice

Chieu, V. M., Kosko, K. W., & Herbst, P. G. (2015). An analysis of evaluative comments in teachers’ online discussions of representations of practice. Journal of Teacher Education, 66(1), 35-50.

For the intention to understand components for effective online learning, research reported by Chieu et al. indicated that having students provide evaluative comments on the online learning content, through reflection and alternative content suggestions, had a significant correlation with their level of development in the topic.

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How people learn in an asynchronous online learning environment:
The relationships between graduate students’ learning strategies and learning satisfaction

Choi, B. (2016). How people learn in an asynchronous online learning environment: The relationships between graduate students’ learning strategies and learning satisfaction| Comment apprennent les gens dans un environnement d’apprentissage en ligne asynchrone. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology/La revue canadienne de l’apprentissage et de la technologie, 42(1).

Among various learning strategies, metacognitive strategy (i.e., awareness, knowledge, and control of cognition, including planning, monitoring and regulating activities) and peer learning (i.e., students’ collaboration with peers) had a significant relationship with the students’ satisfaction with online learning.

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A modest proposal:
An objective method to evaluate delivery options

Farrow, S. A., & Matin, C. (2015). A modest proposal: An objective method to evaluate delivery options. Distance Learning, 12(3), 1-7.

Tailoring delivery options based on learning goals in the online setting was suggested by the authors, including a diverse list of how to evaluate the delivery option based on goals.

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How do online course design features
influence student performance?

Jaggars, S. S., & Xu, D. (2016). How do online course design features influence student performance? Computers & Education, 95, 270-284.

Jaggars and Xu explored factors that influence student performance in online courses, and their research results indicated that the quality of interpersonal interactions within a course related significantly to student grades. The authors hypothesized that frequent and effective student-instructor interaction created an online environment encouraging students to commit to online learning.

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Feedback in technology‐based instruction:
Learner preferences

Lefevre, D., & Cox, B. (2016). Feedback in technology‐based instruction: Learner preferences. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(2), 248-256.

Lefevre and Cox studied the effectiveness of feedback in the online setting and asserted the importance of providing feedback based on learner preference such as simple to elaborative feedback on multiple-choice questions. Findings suggest that elaborative feedback would be helpful even if the correct response were chosen.

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Trends in the design
of e-learning and online learning

Lister, M. (2014). Trends in the design of e-learning and online learning. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(4), 671-680.

The author conducted a literature review on the design of online learning and suggested components critical for student learning, including course structure, content presentation, collaboration and interaction, and timely feedback.

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Is a quality course a worthy course?
Designing for value and worth in online courses

Youger, R. E., & Ahern, T. C. (2015). Is a quality course a worthy course? Designing for value and worth in online courses. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 18(1).

In this article, Youger and Ahern reviewed Quality Matters standards and suggested blending quality with value by creating customizable learning experiences to increase the worth and value of a course.

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Resources for
online course development

A Self-Directed Guide to
Designing Courses for Significant Learning

Fink, L. D. (2003). A Self-Directed Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning. University of Oklahoma.

Fink provided a step-by-step guide for online course development, including worksheets to aid in the development of the course (e.g., factors to consider, formulating an appropriate assessment tool) and tables to help to create a holistic and active learning course.

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Quality considerations in the design and implementation
of an online doctoral program

Kumar, S. (2014). Quality considerations in the design and implementation of an online doctoral program. The Journal of Online Doctoral Education, 6.

The author provided resources to develop an online doctoral program, emphasizing factors to include such as faculty and social presence, incorporating theory and research in the contents.

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Teaching health professionals online:
Frameworks and strategies

Melrose, S., Park, C., & Perry, B. (2013). Teaching health professionals online: Frameworks and strategies. Edmonton, AB: AU Press, Athabasca University.

While this text was written for those teaching health professionals, the online course design topics are applicable to all those creating online classes. A number of helpful design and teaching strategies are included.

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Writing measurable learning objectives
to aid successful online course development

Raible, J., Bennett, L., & Bastedo, K. (2016). Writing measurable learning objectives to aid successful online course development. International Journal for Scholarship of Technology Enhanced Learning, 1(1).

Raible et al. asserted the importance of setting quality learning objectives to ensure a quality online course. In their study, results indicated that faculty view quality objectives as important but stated they might not have the time or resources to create those. The authors provided a course objective-building tool for instructor use.

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Rubrics/Checklists
for quality online course development

Online course design in higher education:
A review of national and statewide evaluation instruments

Baldwin, S. J., Ching, Y.-H., & Hsu, Y. C. (2018). Online course design in higher education: A review of national and statewide evaluation instruments. TechTrends, 62(1), 46-57.

Baldwin and others review six national and statewide online course evaluation instruments and identify several standards that all have in common.

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Online course design:
A review of the Canvas course evaluation checklist

Baldwin, S. J., & Ching, Y.-H. (2019). Online course design: A review of the Canvas course evaluation checklist. International Review of Research in Online and Distributed Learning, 20(3).

Baldwin and Ching review the Canvas course evaluation checklist and compare it to several other online design evaluation instruments.

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An online course design checklist:
development and users’ perceptions

Baldwin, S. J., & Ching, Y. H. (2019). An online course design checklist: development and users’ perceptions. Journal of Computing in Higher Education, 31(1), 156-172.

Building on their work comparing online course design checklists, the authors created the Online Course Design Checklist (OCDC) to help synthesize standards common to the prominent checklists used in the field. This paper explores reactions from course designers when using the checklist, and many found it to be helpful before, during, and after the design process.

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Instructor feedback on a
formal online course quality assurance review process

Bazluki, M., Khendum, G., & Udermann, B. (2018, Summer). Instructor feedback on a formal online course quality assurance review process. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XXI, Number 2.

Bazluki et al. conducted a case study to determine the effect of the online quality assurance review process using an in-house rubric on instructors who had completed a formal review of their online class The authors surveyed faculty and reported that the majority found the course quality assurance review helpful and planned to adopt recommendations.

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Using the “Indicators of engaged online learning” framework
to evaluate online course quality

Bigatel, P.M., & Edel-Malizia, S. (2017, December). Using the “Indicators of engaged online learning” framework to evaluate online course quality. TechTrends 62, 58-70.

The authors used the IELO framework to evaluate the online course quality of six online business courses, measuring engagement with 30 indicators. Aggregate scores were calculated, resulting in a continuum ranging from passive to engaged learning. The purpose was to determine usability of the framework by instructional designers and instructors; as a result, recommendations for design and delivery practice developed.

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Online course quality assurance:
Development of a quality checklist

McGahan, S. J., Jackson, C. M., & Premer, K. (2015). Online course quality assurance: Development of a quality checklist. InSight: A Journal of Scholarly Teaching, 10, 126-140.

McGahan et al. provided information about different types of rubrics (e.g., Quality Matters, Quality Online Course Initiative) including a brief explanation and advantages and disadvantages for each rubric. The authors also described how they developed an online course evaluation instrument for use at the University of Nebraska.

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Online Learning Consortium
quality scorecard

Online Learning Consortium quality scorecard

The Online Learning Consortium developed a scorecard for the administration of quality online programs; evaluative components include (a) institutional support (b) technology support (c) course development/instructional design (d) course structure (e) teaching and learning (f) social and student engagement (g) faculty support (h) student support and (i) evaluation and assessment.

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OLC and Open SUNY
Course Quality Review Rubric

OLC and Open SUNY Course Quality Review Rubric

In conjunction with Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Open SUNY developed the Open SUNY Course Quality Review Rubric (OSCQR) and working spreadsheets to help course designers and instructors design and review online courses. The rubric covers areas including interaction, technology, feedback, and design and provides a time frame for how long any necessary course revisions may take.

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OLC and Open SUNY
Course Quality Review Rubric spreadsheet

OLC and Open SUNY Course Quality Review Rubric spreadsheet

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Utilizing the AECT Instructional Design
Standards for Distance Learning

Piña, A. A. & Harris, P. (2019). Utilizing the AECT Instructional Design Standards for Distance Learning. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 22(2).

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) developed a set of research-based standards for instructional designers, instructors, and course reviewers to use when preparing, developing, or reviewing distance learning courses. This set of ten standards offers guidelines that can be used alone or alongside other tools to ensure that each course is developed with integrity.

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Quality Matters standards
from the QM higher education rubric

Quality Matters standards from the QM higher education rubric. (2014). 5th edition.

The Quality Matters organization has developed a number of rubrics with standards, including those designed to assist the development and assess the quality of online courses.

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Best practices for developing and delivering online instruction
at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee. Best practices for developing and delivering online instruction at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.

This comprehensive document from the University of Tennessee-Knoxville was developed by a team of faculty, staff and students in order to provide standards based on best practices for faculty to use as a guideline for course development and to self-assess the quality of their online courses.

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