Week 5: What is Quality?

According to Merriam-Webster, quality is defined as 1) how good or bad something is or 2) a high level of value or degree of excellence. So, what does that mean for blended courses? How do we determine the quality of blended courses? By what methods(s)? By what criteria? Quality imageAs a qualitative researcher I have relied on various criteria to determine quality. Similar to using triangulation as a method of ensuring validity of data, perhaps we should rely on multiple criteria when evaluating the quality of blended courses.

Student feedback could be used to assess course quality and effectiveness – both formal and informal. Take some time to write effective questions to ensure reliable, effective responses. Course artifacts could also be examined and reviewed. Colleagues could review components of courses – activities, assessments – and provide feedback. In addition, a formal assessment instrument could be used.

Quality Matters (QM) is a formal program or process for reviewing blended and online courses. The QM rubric focuses on course design using 8 general standards and 43 specific review standards. Finally, structured protocols could also be utilized by faculty in a peer review process. Case method and critical friends are two such protocols. Each of these protocols outlines specific guidelines and rules for examining the work or the artifacts.

Each organization should determine the criteria that will be used to evaluate blended courses. Various methods or criteria should be considered in order to assess both design (organization, navigation) and pedagogy (implementation – teaching and learning).


Week 4 Musings


Signs of Spring!

This week and probably next are less about a “mid-MOOC slump” as Rohan mentioned in the announcement and more about spring fever!  It’s been a long, cold, and snowy winter in the Midwest, and I know others are anxiously awaiting the permanent arrival of milder and warmer temperatures.  As such, I struggle to keep my mind and interests focused on the course as well as my daily work responsibilities.

If I must, I thought that I would reflect on two of the organizational items illustrated and discussed in chapter 4 this week.

  1. Survey of Technologies for Student Engagement is a handy and dynamic list of tools organized by type of function or student action.  I started a similar list with a cohort of faculty which we called “Blended Faculty Toolkit.”  I like the idea of organizing the resources/tools around themes or topics.  It is something to think about as I redesign assessments and assignments.
    1. Interaction and communication
    2. Assessment
    3. Content
  2. The Learning Activities Matrix by Littlejohn and Pegler (2007) identified various types of learning activities and included descriptions, resources, and explanations for each.  This may also be another way to organize resources for faculty.  I might consider utilizing a taxonomy (Bloom’s?) around which to organize activities.

Another week of great readings and resources!


Littlejohn, A., & Pegler, C. (2007). Preparing for blended e-learning.  London, UK: Routledge.

Week 3: Thoughts about Assessment

assessmentAccording to Palomba & Banta (as cited in Banta & Palomba, 2015), “Assessment is the systematic collection, review, and use of information about educational programs undertaken for the purpose of improving learning and development” (pp. 1-2).

Lately I’ve been reading about assessment in general and discussing the topic with colleagues.  Most importantly, it is what we do with the assessment results (information) that matters.”  All too frequently, I think we focus on the “final” grade. We value – or so it appears – the end result – the final product – a test, a project, or a performance.  We may not assess the process involved in achieving the end result.  We know that students, too, get caught up in the final grade – a sort of race to the finish.  But, what do the grades really mean?

Is there a difference between grades and assessment?

Do faculty use assessment (results, data) to improve student learning?

Are grades a reliable measure of student learning?

Are grades an accurate way to measure learning outcomes?

Are grades (criteria, standards) applied consistently among faculty?

How do faculty or should faculty?) de-emphasize grades to encourage or promote a greater interest in learning for the sake of learning?

These are just some of the questions that my colleagues and I have been pondering the past couple of weeks.


Banta, T.W., & Palomba, C.A. (2015). Assessment Essentials: Planning, implementing, and improving assessment in higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Week 2 – More thoughts and some plans

During this UCF/Educause course, I hope to revise the Introduction to Designing Online Courses.  In fact, I have already decided to change the name to: Introduction to Designing Blended Courses.  In addition, I want to

  • critically examine the alignment of goals and objectives
  • review and perhaps replace some readings
  • improve the discussion prompts to encourage deeper thinking
  • enhance and improve interactions
  • include a more “UDL” approach to teaching and learning

I realize that I need to be more intentional about using multiple media to present information. Currently I use traditional reading material (articles) and some videos.  I would like to include some case studies,  infographics, and guest speakers.

In addition, I would like to offer participants more choice in how they represent knowledge and understanding of content.  The course is primarily reading and discussion based.  I want to include other ways for students to demonstrate what they know.

Random thoughts about Blended Teaching

For over 10 years I have designed and developed blended courses.  For the past eight years I have worked with faculty in higher ed and high school, assisting them with transitioning a face-to-face course to an online or blended model.  In an attempt to structure or perhaps streamline the design approach, I have relied on the Quality Matters standards to guide me and them.  I have found that most faculty are not designers.  While they have developed (and are comfortable with developing) courses, not many have designed blended or online courses.

Most recently, I designed, developed, and facilitated a formal course, Introduction to Designing Online Courses.  This is a graduate course for which faculty can earn 3 semester hours of graduate credit. So, while the UCF and Educause course is flexible, the course that I teach is more structured with required assignments and due dates.  I hope that the UCF/Educause course will provide me with some new ideas and resources!