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Evaluating Quality in Online Course Design | Academic Newsletter | Seneca College

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Evaluating Quality in Online Course Design

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by Karen Spiers, the Teaching & Learning Centre

in the June 2020 issue


With the recent move to fully online courses, how do you know all the hard work you’ve put into designing your online course results in a truly engaging and meaningful learning experience for your students?

Quality online courses rely on a thoughtful blend of key components – the right content, a variety of appropriate instructional and assessment strategies, and a quality framework that provides a way to evaluate online course design against a benchmark of suggested best practices.
Quality in an online course is a thoughtful blend of content, instructional strategies, assessments, and recognized best practices (such as the My.Seneca Minimum Requirements Policy and the Seneca Quality Framework)

Best practices in online course design can be institutionally mandated, such as those in the My.Seneca Minimum Requirements Policy, and they can also be industry-recognized, like the ones in the Seneca Quality Framework for Online Course Design (Faculty Resources). The Seneca Quality Framework for Online Course Design prompts you to examine your course from both a course design and an organizational perspective.

In terms of overall course design, the Seneca Quality Framework begins with an examination of course and module learning outcomes, assessment strategies, and alignment. These are essential elements that must be validated before assessment strategies, content curation, and overall course design can proceed.
Do the module learning outcomes align to the course learning outcomes? Are they clear, concrete, and measurable? If yes, proceed; if no, review and revise

Remember that each learner has their own unique strengths and needs, and everyone learns differently. Selecting appropriate and varied instructional and assessment strategies provide students with differentiated learning experiences and also ensures they have the opportunity to demonstrate the knowledge and skills identified by the learning outcomes.

The organizational side of the Seneca Quality Framework looks at how the content and assessments you have created are organized into a meaningful and seamless learning experience. When your students enter the course, is it clear what they need to do to get started and keep going? Are the expectation around communication and behaviour clearly laid out for them?

Having a clear understanding of who your learners are is also key to achieving a high-quality online course. Whether they are new to online learning or experienced online learners, they bring with them unique characteristics that influence their ability to be successful in an online environment. Using the Seneca Quality Framework can help you implement best practices in online course design to ensure an inclusive and accessible learning experience for all of your students.
Best Practices for Student Success

We encourage you to apply the Seneca Quality Framework to your online course and reach out to the Teaching & Learning Centre if you have concerns about how to improve the quality of your online course.
A screen capture of the first page of the Seneca Quality Framework for online courses (http://open2.senecac.on.ca/sites/teaching/plan/hybrid/faculty-resources/)



View the June 2020 issue of the Academic Newsletter.

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