To prepare SUNY campuses for full participation in the Open SUNY online learning initiative, which aims to take online learning at SUNY to the next level of scale across the entire system, the Open SUNY Institutional Readiness program was created as an institutional approach to ensuring Online Program Quality using the Online Learning Consortium Quality Scorecard. The goal of the Open SUNY IR program is to systematically increase the capacity of our SUNY campuses to ensure quality and success in online learning.
Open SUNY is a system-wide effort designed to maximize online-enabled learning opportunities for all SUNY students focused on access, success, and completion with targeted system-level initiatives in 4 main areas: Faculty and Student Supports, Academic initiatives, and Campus and System wide initiatives.
To prepare SUNY campuses for full participation in the Open SUNY online learning initiative, which aims to take online learning at SUNY to the next level of scale across the entire system, the Open SUNY Institutional Readiness program was created as an institutional approach to ensuring Online Program Quality using the Online Learning Consortium Quality Scorecard.
Specifically we created the Open SUNY Institutional Readiness Process to:
• Address the issues and concerns frequently voiced regarding the quality of online-enabled education. This process is intended to assist our campuses to ensure that they deliver high-quality online experiences to SUNY students.
• Respond to the next evolutionary era of online learning at SUNY that moves from the opt-in membership model of supports and services initiated by the SUNY Learning Network to Open SUNY- a set of system-wide supports, standards, and initiatives that call for a significant expansion of degree programs available online across the SUNY system. This process is intended to assist our campuses to ensure quality at the degree program level, which requires the support and engagement of campus leadership.
• Provide an on ramp for SUNY campuses to explore the benefits of their participation in Open SUNY initiatives. Specific supports and recommendations are being designed and mapped to Scorecard categories and indicators for students, faculty, and campuses and are being made available via various Open SUNY initiatives.
• Assist campuses to understand and determine what it will take to be as successful as possible, given their unique camps context, in their online- enabled learning efforts.
• Provide a framework to assist SUNY campuses to identify areas for improvement.
The goal of the Open SUNY IR program is to systematically increase the capacity of our SUNY campuses to ensure quality and success in online learning by:
1. Increasing awareness of campus leadership of what it takes to ensure quality and success.
2. Facilitating self-assessment to identify campus best practices and determine where gaps exist that need to be closed.
3. Facilitating implementation planning to ensure that best practices are sustained and ensure that gaps will be closed.
4. Enabling benchmarking and the sharing of best practices between SUNY campuses for ongoing continuous quality improvement across the SUNY system and facilitate networking between SUNY campuses so that campuses new to online learning can leverage the experiences and lessons learned from campuses that have mature online learning programs.
We are using the Quality Scorecard and this process in several ways:
• To assist campuses to self assess the quality of their online program as part of a program evaluation and continuous improvement process in preparation for strategic planning, changes in executive leadership, or accreditation self-studies.
• As a framework for the Open SUNY+ online degree nomination submission process.
• As a way to on-board and prepare campuses and their online degree programs for inclusion in Open SUNY initiatives.
• As a mechanism to identify, document, and share effective practices across SUNY, so that campuses don’t have to reinvent wheels and can leverage the expertise and lessons learned from campuses with mature programs and exemplary practices.
• To provide a framework for campuses to use regularly and systematically to benchmark against national standards for the purposes of sustaining and scaling quality in their online program.
Participation in the process is voluntary and generally initiated and/or supported by the chief academic officer on the campus. The Open SUNY Institutional Readiness process is designed to engage a campus team made up campus academic leadership, as well representatives from all functional and infrastructure areas identified in the quality indicators of the scorecard. This aspect of the process is essential for campus impact, credibility, and systemic change to result. The campus agrees to commit to the 3-step engagement and is required to provide a campus leadership team comprised, but is not limited to, the participation of the following:
• Chief Financial Officer
• Chief Information Officer
• Chief Student Affairs Officer
• Faculty Governance Leader
• Program Director(s)
• Distance Learning Leader (if this position exists)
• Library Director
• Institutional Research Coordinator
• Academic Leadership (Deans/Department Chairs)
Step 1 is a 1-2 hour virtual, or on-campus face-to-face meeting, to provide an overview of the process and campus commitment and expectations. This is generally an engagement with the campus leadership and can include members of the wider campus community.
In this meeting we:
• Establish a common understanding of the campus background and context that informs the campus strategy and goals for online learning.
• We provide an update on Open SUNY and have a discussion of the campus role.
• Review the OLC Quality Scorecard and provide instructions and clarifications for completing the self-assessment individually.
• Provide an outline of the IR process, and determine the next steps, including the team that will participate in the self-assessment, the timeframe, and the deliverables.
Step 2 is a full day face-to-face meeting on campus to facilitate the Campus self-assessment with the OLC Quality Scorecard. This engagement is with the campus leadership team of stakeholders and decision makers key to the success of campus online learning programs and initiatives.
In this meeting:
• The campus leadership team comes to this meeting having completed their individual OLC Quality Scorecard self-assessment in advance.
• We facilitate an in depth discussion to come to a group consensus rating for each indicator in the Scorecard.
• We informally discuss and identify and document evidence of the campuses best practices (Scorecard indicators rated a 3).
• We informally discuss and identify and document areas where gaps exist and need to closed to meet the requirements of the quality indicators (Scorecard indicators rated 0-2).
Step 3 is a full day face-to-face meeting on campus to assist the campus develop an online program improvement implementation plan based on the results from the OLC Scorecard self-assessment. This engagement is campus leadership team (those that filled out the scorecard).
In this meeting:
• The campus leadership team comes to this meeting having documented their best practices and gaps using templates that we provide.
• We review the evidence of the campuses best practices that has been collected (anything rated a 3).
• We review and discuss all possible actions for closing the gaps that have been identified and facilitate a preliminary consensus on actions for each gap.
• We present an IR Implementation Plan Template that we provide to facilitate the process of campuses writing their proposal for a comprehensive implementation plan that includes proposals for or improvements to the campus online mission and vision, the online program organizational structure, the mechanisms to sustain best practices, how gaps will be closed, how the results from the self assessment will be communicated to campus stakeholders and integrated into campus planning processes, identification of any benchmarking that would be helpful and how it would be used, how continuous improvement will be addressed, a list of who contributed to the implementation plan, who will submit it to the campus president, signature of the president, and appendices that include the self-assessment consensus ratings, best practices, and other appropriate supporting documentation.
We have a number of templates that we use in this process that we would be willing to share. And have compiled a train the trainer collection of resources in this process to allow us to scale this process in SUNY with the assistance of other facilitators.