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The Open SUNY COTE Quality Review (OSCQR) Process and Rubric

Alexandra Pickett (SUNY, USA)
Dave Ghidiu (Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence State University of New York, USA)
Session Information
October 16, 2015 - 10:45am
Faculty and Professional Development & Support
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Practical Application
Institutional Level: 
Multiple Levels
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Information Session
Europe 2
Session Duration: 
45 Minutes
Concurrent Session 10

Participants will be introduced to the Open SUNY COTE Quality Review (OSCQR) Process and Rubric for the review and improvement of online courses.

Extended Abstract

In this presentation we will showcase the OSCQR process and rubric and how we are using it to systematically review and refresh complete online degree programs on a large scale across the SUNY system. We will share the rubric and process with participants and invite collaboration and feedback.

Participants will be actively engaged in this session as they:

  • Become Open SUNY Fellows in the role of "Friends of SUNY" and join our online networking site for resources, and continuing the conversation about OSCQR after the session and conference.
  • Earn a badge, for attending the presentation to learn more about the OSCQR process and rubric.
  • Take home the OSCQR Rubric that includes a focus on the continuous improvement of online course design and accessibility, produces an action plan, assists with prioritization of improvements, estimates amount of time to make improvements, offers suggestions and examples for improvements, accommodates the addition of standards, and is designed to be used in multiple ways.

The Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence (COTE) has developed an online course design rubric and process that addresses both the instructional design and accessibility of an online course that is openly licensed for anyone to use and adapt. The aim of the Open SUNY COTE Quality Review (OSCQR) Rubric and Process is to assist online instructional designers and online faculty improve the quality and accessibility of their online courses, while also providing a system-wide approach to collect data that informs faculty development, and supports large scale online course design review and refresh efforts systematically and consistently. The OSCQR rubric and process are currently being used by 21 SUNY institutions.

Working with multi institutional teams of SUNY online instructional designers, librarians, distance learning directors, and technologists, Open SUNY COTE staff started with the Chico rubric, 20 years of SLN research-informed best online practices, the SUNY office of general counsel’s memorandum on accessibility considerations, and conducted a gap analysis with Quality Matters, iNACOL, and Bb exemplary courses. The resulting rubric was also informed by the Community of Inquiry model (Garrison, Anderson, and Archer, 2000), The 7 Principles for Good practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1987), The Adult Learner (Malcom Knowles, 1973, Blooms Taxonomy (Bloom et al., 1956) and How People Learn (Bransford et al., 1999) and mapped to the OS COTE fundamental competencies for online teaching. We are continuing the process of building out the citations and annotations associated with each standard in the rubric here: OSCQR Rubric Annotations and Refresh resources – each standard is explained and supported by citations from the literature. A formal literature review is planned and in progress.

There are two components OSCQR:

1. The OSCQR Process provides a Framework and Dashboard that supports a campus-tailored and scalable approach to improving the instructional design of online or blended courses.

a. The Framework includes:

i. A Course Review that results in an action plan to improve the design of the online course.

ii. The Course Refresh based on the things targeted for improvement by the course review.

iii. A Learning Review that identifies and prioritizes then next set of improvements for continuous quality improvement.

b. The campus Dashboard is the tool from which all the rubrics at a given campus (or in a program, or department) can be generated, customized, and managed.

i. It provides automations for campus-level management of all course reviews, custom prioritization of the standards, and incorporation of additional standards. It can be used with any rubric and can assign different rubrics to different courses.

ii. Analytics are built in to aggregate and track all course review progress, identify and document course design issues and trends, and to aggregate information across courses to inform faculty development initiatives and course development planning.

2. The OSCQR Rubric has 37 online course design standards and 37 accessibility standards. The Rubric is flexible and designed to be used in a variety of course quality assurance approaches.

a. By instructors and instructional designers in faculty development and course design professional development activities to inform and influence the design of new online courses.

b. By an individual instructor to self-assess and prioritize design improvements; to continuously review, revise and improve the instructional design of their existing online courses.

c. By an instructional designer to conduct a formal course review of an online course as part of an online course quality review process at the program, department, or institutional level.

d. As a peer review process, by a team of instructors interested in a peer-review model of online course review and continuous improvement (the teams can be made up of inter or intra disciplinary teams).

e. In a collaborative team model made up of a group of at least 3 people approaching the course review process from their own various specialized perspectives, i.e., instructional designer, course author, and external reviews that might include other subject matter experts (faculty), online librarian, student, instructional technologist, multimedia designer, other faculty.

The Rubric produces an action plan that is framed from the perspective of the Community of Inquiry (CoI) model, to help reviewers assess and target opportunities to improve the course’s social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence, in addition to the overall online course educational experience. It substantively addresses accessibility. The OSCQR Accessibility Rubric is based on the recommendations of SUNY’s Office of General Counsel in their 2013 memo, “Accessibility Considerations in the wake of SUNY’s Online Initiatives”. The rubric has been reviewed by members of the FACT2 Accessibility Task Force, and address the legal considerations required to be compliant with Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, New York State Enterprise IT Policy NYS-P08-005, Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act. The OSCQR Accessibility Rubric also accommodates additions and customizations.

It is not restricted to mature courses. The rubric can be used formatively with new online faculty to help guide, inform and influence the design of their new online courses. It is non-evaluative: Conceptually the rubric and process approach course review and refresh as a professional development exercise, to guide faculty in their understanding of improving course design from an effective practices perspective, rather than as a course evaluation, or quality assurance procedure. It prioritizes changes. An Action Plan is automatically generated by the course review process that presents recommendations for course design improvements based on the review, and assists in prioritization of course revisions based on the estimated time to make those improvements. The rubric also provides suggestions for course design improvements for each standard that can be selected from a menu of options by each reviewer to supplement reviewer feedback. The rubric can be customized. Standards can be added, edited, and /or eliminated. There is no license fee for use of the rubric. It is shared with a creative Creative Commons license: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US. Because the OSCQR Rubric is licensed under Creative Commons, and the Dashboard is licensed under LGPL, the entire process can be shared, used by anyone with no cost, and can be customized to address individual campus environments.

OSCQR Links:

About OSCQR:

The Rubric:

OSCQR rubric annotations:

Adopting the OSCQR rubric:

A video overview of the rubric and dashboard:

Lead Presenter

Alexandra M. Pickett (@alexpickett) is gives leadership and direction to the Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Exellence. Formerly the Associate Director of the award-winning SUNY Learning Network (SLN), the online learning network for the State University of New York. Working with 40 of the 64 SUNY institutions, she has directly supported or coordinated the development of more than 5,000 faculty and their web-delivered courses. She also teaches Introduction to Online Teaching in the online CDIT master’s program at the University at Albany. She is the principle investigator on the SUNY/SLN NGLC grant-funded project, an elected member of the National University Technology Network advisory board, and on the steering committees of the Sloan-C ALN and Sloan-C Blended Learning conferences. She is the co-recipient of a number of awards recognizing excellence in online faculty development, distance learning innovation, online effective practice, and institution wide programming and systematic progress. She was recognized as a Sloan-C Fellow (2012), an honor conferred by the Sloan Consortium Board of Directors, also serves on the new Campus Technology Advisory Board for 2013-2015, and was most recently appointed to serve on the advisory council for the UPCEA Center for Online Leadership and Strategy. She consults and speaks nationally and internationally on effective online teaching and learning, large-scale online faculty development, online instructional design, and using web2.0 to enhance instruction. http://commons.suny.edu/cote/ blog http://about.me/alexandrapickett


Dave Ghidiu was a high school Math and Computer Science teacher for eight years at Honeoye Falls-Lima high school in Western New York. He served on the Teaching, Learning, and Technology committee and worked as a Technology Mentor. Additionally, he coached varsity Cross Country Running, Nordic Skiing, and Track & Field for four of those years. Dave spent an additional three years at Monroe Community College in the role of Instructional Designer. During his time at MCC, he served on the Emerging Technologies Committee and dedicated much of his time to the campus-wide eBook exploration and the LMS Migration Project. For the past six months, Dave has been working at Open SUNY as a Senior Instructional Designer, where he focuses on the OSCQR (Open SUNY COTE Quality Review) Process. In his spare time, Dave enjoys running, costuming, and innovating. Twitter Blog