How to Ensure Online Course Quality at Your University
A 2012 study by the Online Learning Consortium found that 2.6% of higher education institutions in the USA were offering some form of online degree course or module. Since then, this number has increased, and online courses have demonstrated their power to widen access to university among learners who have traditionally experienced difficulties in engaging with campus-based courses.
Nevertheless, all too often, students and faculty members alike see online courses as the ‘second best’ option when compared to campus-based courses. This should not be the case! So, here are three ways to ensure online course quality at your university.
- Enable students to interact with their instructors. Online learners see the ability to interact with their instructor as crucial to a good learning experience. Interaction can take several forms, including (but not limited to) detailed feedback over email, voice feedback using a voice feedback tool (often integrated with modern LMSs) and video chat sessions. Interaction should also be opened out in the online classroom (as it ideally is in the physical classroom) to involve interaction between students. This can be enabled by integrating something like an online forum for students to use into your online learning platform.
- Use the same materials for online courses as for campus-based courses. Use exactly the same reading materials, video content and other materials in your campus-based courses as you do with your online courses. This will ensure that online courses are not the ‘poor relation’ to campus-based courses – students studying both online and on campus are essentially taking the same course. Mixing things up and enabling campus-based degree students to take one online model is also a good way to tighten the relationship between these two parts of the student body.
- Use the advantages of online learning to the fullest. Online degree courses have advantages that campus-based courses do not, such as time flexibility, the ability to support simultaneous online discussions on an online forum about several topics related to the course at once, and a greater capacity to incorporate multimedia content. Use these advantages to the full! Upgrade your LMS to a shiny new model so that students get the benefit of the latest technology.
Of course, high-quality training needs to be provided to tertiary educators to ensure that they can deliver online courses to the highest standard.
Do you think that anything has been missed out in this article? What do you, as either a student or as an educator, think makes an online course successful?