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Building a Better Buy-In: Toward a University-wide Community of Online Course Quality Assurance

#Twitter: 
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Presenter(s)
Su Swarat (California State University, Fullerton, USA)
Additional Authors
Marsha Orr (California State University, Fullerton, USA)
Nicholas Gorman (California State University, Fullerton, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 9:30am
Track: 
Institutional Strategies & Innovations
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Intermediate
Session Type: 
Information Session
Location: 
Oceanic 8
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Session: 
Concurrent Session 9
Abstract

This session will showcase an effective approach to building a university-wide community of quality assurance for online courses at a large comprehensive institution.

Extended Abstract

Online learning is rapidly accelerating nationally, and the California State University (CSU) system is no exception to this trend. At Cal State Fullerton, we currently offer 15 online degree programs, 16 online professional development courses, and 2 online degree completion programs. Over 38,000 students attended Cal State Fullerton in 2014, and of these, 9,646 (25.3%) students were enrolled in one or more online courses. While we are encouraged by the rapid growth of online courses and programs, we realized that one critical element of online teaching has not received adequate attention - how to ensure that faculty have the expertise to develop high-quality online courses.
Our approach toward addressing this issue took 2 stages, with the first stage engaging with enthusiastic faculty from a small number of departments, and the second stage expanding the effort to build a campus-wide community. In 2013-2014, supported by funds from the CSU, the Office of Assessment and Educational Effectiveness collaborated with the School of Nursing on a project to develop faculty expertise in quality assurance of online courses. The School of Nursing was chosen for this initiative due to its successful record of offering online programs and for having a group of faculty who are passionate about ensuring student success in online courses. Seventeen faculty from the School of Nursing, and other departments took workshops offered by Quality Matters (QM), a nationally recognized program of training and certification in online learning. In addition, a needs assessment survey was developed and administered to faculty in the School of Nursing to help further understand faculty members' comfort with, and perceived obstacles to, online teaching, including knowledge of technology tools commonly used in online courses. The positive experiences reported by participating faculty suggested the effectiveness of using QM as a platform to encourage online course quality assurance.
Encouraged by the initial success, we decided to more broadly disseminate expertise in online learning campus-wide. The expansion effort took place in 2014-2015. Led again by the Office of Assessment and Educational Effectiveness, we enlisted help from the Associate Deans from each of the 9 colleges at CSUF to identify 1-2 faculty "QM Leaders" who would take the QM training, use the aforementioned needs assessment survey tool to understand faculty needs at their respective colleges, and disseminate their findings via campus presentations. Incentive grants were offered to the QM leaders. Eleven QM leaders representing different disciplines engaged in this effort. Thus far, all QM leaders have completed the training and received over two hundred and thirty responses from their faculty peers on the needs assessment survey. The findings have been, or are planned to be, disseminated through presentations at a regional Assessment Conference, sessions at the Faculty Development Center, presentations at a campus-wide teaching and technology day, and presentations to individual colleges and departments. The diverse representation of the QM Leaders allowed us to bring together a large campus and form a community that shares the common interest of improving online course quality. Through common approaches and regular conversations, the QM leaders are able to share successes and challenges, learn from each other, and begin build a network of support for faculty who are interested in online teaching.
This session will describe successes and lessons learned in the process of designing and implementing a university-wide initiative focused on online learning. The results of the needs assessment will be shared, and methods to promote buy in from faculty and administrators will be discussed with input from session participants.

Goals:
1.Describe a successful approach to promote faculty buy-in, and to implement a university-wide initiative to improve quality in online courses
2.Discuss methods to enhance faculty knowledge of quality online teaching
3.Discuss findings regarding faculty comfort and obstacles with online teaching