Notes from the “QM Program Certification: Is it Worth It?”, presented by Sherrell Wheeler and Kim Lopez Gallagher, both from New Mexico State University, at the 2015 Quality Matters (QM) conference.
Online quality is so much more than course design!
NMSU began by compiling research on online teaching best practices and disseminated it to all online faculty. Then, they held focus groups with faculty and held discussion forums in their LMS (Canvas). Not all of the faculty contributed, but those who did were very engaged. Then, they drafted the standards and presented them to appropriate faculty groups for approval
Note: text in italics is rationale or implementation of the standard
Standard 1 – Respond to student email within 48 hours during the scheduled work week for a full-term course or within 24 hours for any short-term course. They wanted to take into account that many of their faculty are not full-time and hold other jobs, so there is enough time for them to reply, but still provide a consistent expectation for students in online courses.
Standard 2 – Utilize a help forum and respond within 48 hours or 24 hours during any short-term course. This was identified in the literature as a best practice.
Standard 3 – Communicate in a constructive and supportive manner. Email is private, but it is still important for the tone to be supportive so that students feel supported.
Standard 4 – Provide meaningful feedback within 1 week of an assignment due date. This time should be adjusted in a short-term course. This doesn’t actually require grading within 1 week. If it is going to take longer, let students know that you are working on them and grading them. Share some general feedback for everyone while they begin working on the next assignment.
Standard 5 – Provide formative feedback that supports progress toward summative projects when necessary.
Standard 6 – Communicate to the entire class weekly. This time should be adjusted for a short-term course. It is important for students to know that they are taking the course from a person, not a computer! Consider using videos to be more personal. Communication can be announcements or email and grading – has to be something every week.
Standard 7 – Encourage regular interaction between students.
Every faculty member will utilize these standards in their online courses. If you aren’t doing these 7 things, you shouldn’t be teaching online.
Before teaching online for NMSU, you must go through the Online Teaching Course, APPQMR, and Canvas training. You cannot even apply to be an adjunct until you have completed the training! They also have an Observation Document, a Peer Observation Document, and Student Surveys to ensure implementation.