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Introduction and Task Force Recommendations

Purpose
The guidelines identify the issues that faculty at Michigan community colleges should address when developing online courses to be offered through the MCCVLC. By appropriately addressing these guidelines all members of the MCCVLC can be assured that the Articulation Agreement can be utilized without additional scrutiny and all members are assured that the courses on the MCCVLC website are of the highest quality and provide exceptional learning experiences for their students.

Development
These guidelines have been developed based on reviews of guidelines and other documents from The American Council on Education, The Higher Education Program and Policy Council of the American Federation of Teachers, The North Central Association Higher Learning Commission, American Association of Higher Education, and The Michigan Virtual University. Additional input was received during the ETOM Higgins Lake Retreat on May 29-30, 2001.

Use
A Task Force of MCCVLC Advisory Council members and faculty have designed a rubric to accompany the guidelines. The MCCVLC Online Course Guidelines and Rubric are intended to assist member institutions with developing online courses of quality. Member institutions may elect to utilize these guidelines in a variety of ways. This instrument may be utilized as a self-assessment tool by faculty when developing courses for offering online. The instrument can be used to review courses already developed. The instrument can be also used as a tool for peer-to-peer review of courses within an institution or with other institutions. 

Recommendations
The Task Force that developed the Rubric for the Guidelines strongly supports a recommendation for each institution to have in place a process of quality control for online courses. If institutions do not wish to utilize the MCCVLC Guidelines, then it is recommended that the institutions develop an alternative plan of action that may more appropriately assist them in assessing quality in the courses they offer through the MCCVLC.

 

Guidelines Rubric
Course Outcomes: Beginning
1
Developing
2
Accomplished
3
Exemplary
4

Score

  • Learning outcomes (competencies) are clearly stated.
Competencies do not convey the intended outcomes of the learning experience in clear terms.   Some of the competencies are clearly stated but focus more on facts rather than what the learner will be able to do upon successful completion of the learning experience.   All competencies are clearly stated, yet all of the competencies do not use action verbs to describe what the learner will be able to do, for example, they use non-action verbs such as understand, know, or learn.   All competencies are clearly stated; written at the application level or above; and emphasize application of major knowledge, skills, and/or attitudes using appropriate action verbs to communicate what learners will be able to do as a result of the learning experience.
  • Learning outcomes (competencies) are observable, measurable and achievable.
Competencies are neither observable nor measurable. Some of the competencies are observable and measurable; however, due to use of non-action verbs or describing more than one learning outcome per competency, some are weak.   All competencies are observable and measurable by the instructor; however, some competencies could be improved upon to better communicate to the student the process or product to be observed and measured.   All competencies are observable – the instructor and learner will be able to see a product and/or process upon completion of the learning experience; all competencies are measurable - the instructor is able to measure the quality of the product or process.   
  • Learning outcomes (competencies) are closely correlated with real world performance expectations.
Competencies do not correlate with real world performance expectations, but rather relate only to specific in-class performance. Some of the competencies represent knowledge, skills, or attitudes/values that the learner would use outside the context of the course. Some competencies relate only to specific in-class performance.
All competencies represent skills that the learner would use outside of the classroom, but could be improved upon to better correlate with real world performance expectations (for example, application of the skill may not extend past an educational context).
All competencies clearly represent  knowledge, skills, or attitudes/values that the learner would use outside the context of the course.
Course Construction:          
  • Course content, outcomes, practice and assessment are consistent.
Course contains at least three of the four elements; some consistency may be implied.   Course contains all four elements; consistency is generally indicated. Course content, outcomes, practice and assessment are consistent with each other and clearly linked together. Course content, outcomes, practice and assessment are consistent; the relationship among them is clearly indicated; outcomes may be linked to institutional outcomes or target standards in the field (when applicable).   
  • Course materials are presented to accommodate multiple learning styles.
Presentation of materials uses primarily one methodology (e.g. print) Presentation of materials uses more than one method (e.g. print, visual, experiential). Applications to real-life situations may be presented. Course materials are presented in a variety of ways, and students are able to select methods to suit their abilities/preferences.  Applications to real-life situations are presented; student tasks sometimes require application. Course uses powerful visuals and well-organized print; direct, vicarious, and virtual experiences; and tasks requiring applications to real-life situations.   
Course requires students to read materials and respond to instructor's posted questions. Material is chunked [divided, organized] into appropriate sections for learning audience; includes basic recall exercises and practice. Material is appropriately chunked, interspersed with activities that require both recall and some application (e.g. identifying examples, deriving examples, practice applications) Material is appropriately chunked with frequent required practices and learning strategies that involve both recall and application.   
  • Course design includes the necessary components of successful instruction at the module/lesson level.
Lessons/modules have an organized format and include some basic events: e.g. objectives, information, assessment.  However, numerous critical events are missing. Course design includes most elements in many lessons.  Some elements, such as motivational techniques, or practice, may not be as complete as necessary Course design includes most or all elements in most or all lessons.  Each element is mostly complete.

Course design includes, for each lesson:

  • motivational techniques,

  • objectives

  • overview,

  • demonstration or information,

  • practice or exploration

  • with feedback;

  • a summary/
    transfer,

  • and assessment.

  
  • Course instructions, navigation and definitions are clear.
Course contains a list of prerequisite skills and learning objectives (usually in Syllabus).   Course contains a list of prerequisite skills, a description of each activity, grading criteria and a general description of course requirements.   Course contains a list of the prerequisite skills and knowledge, expectations of each activity, the expected level of participation and time commitment, and specific instructions on how to proceed and learn the material. In addition to overall expectations and directions, each activity, assignment, exercise, etc.  clearly indicates what students need to do, how they should submit results, any special instructions, etc.       
Course Interaction:          
  • Course interaction requirements are clearly stated.
Course requirements state that students are required to interact. Course requirements state that students are required to interact  within a designated timeframe. Course requirements state that students are required to interact within a designated timeframe, how the interaction will take place (what tools will be used for the interaction) Course requirements clearly state that students are required to interact with each other and with the instructor, a designated timeframe for the interaction is stated, directions for how to participate in the interaction, standards for the quality or expectations of the interaction are set, and the outcomes of those interactions are noted (will the student receive points for the interaction)   
  • A variety of opportunities are designed for interaction between instructor-student.
Course is designed so that students are encouraged to ask questions and the instructor to respond using one or two methods of interaction. Course is designed so students are required answer questions about or apply what was learned for the most important learning objectives. The method of interaction varies depending on what is most effective for the learning objective. The instructor promptly provides feedback. Course is designed so students are required to answer questions about or apply what was learned for all learning objectives. The method of interaction varies depending on what is most effective for the learning objective. Some of the instructor feedback has been automated. All feedback is prompt. Course is designed so students are required to answer questions about or apply what was learned for all learning objectives. Multiple methods of interaction are available for the most important learning objectives. Much of the instructor feedback has been automated.   
  • Clear standards are set for instructors' response to students.
Course guidelines state that the instructor is required to provide feedback to the student. Course guidelines state that the instructor will provide feedback to the students in a timely manner.

Course guidelines state that the instructor will provide feedback to the students within a specified amount of time, and a clear description of how the task of providing feedback will be accomplished

 

Course guidelines state that the instructor will provide feedback within a designated timeframe, a clear description of how the task of providing feedback will be accomplished (how will the student receive the feedback- email, discussion board, etc), and the specific types of feedback that will be submitted – example: feedback on assignments, on class participation, etc.    
  • Learning activities are developed to foster instructor-student, student-content and, where appropriate, student-student interaction.
Learning activities are in place that foster student to content interaction but do not support student to student, or instructor to student interaction   Learning activities are in place to support student to content interaction, and it is suggested that students interact with each other to complete the learning activities.   Learning activities are developed that support instructor to student interaction, (instructor participates in discussion with students via a discussion board or virtual chat room), student to content interaction, and where appropriate  student -to-student interaction is encouraged.   Learning activities are developed that support instructor to student interaction, (instructor participates in discussion with students via a discussion board or virtual chat room), student to content interaction, and student-to-student interaction is supported, where appropriate, and required as part of the course (collaborative projects, group assignments, discussion board and/or virtual chat assignments).     
Course Assessment:          
  • Assessment methods are appropriate to the outcomes, activities and technologies.
Assessment methods are not  appropriate measurements for those outcomes/ competencies stated in the course. Assessment methods are designed to reflect the stated course outcomes, but do not correlate well with learning activities.   Assessment methods are designed to include the appropriate  measurements for those competencies stated in course outcomes, to reinforce the learning activities and but do not address the available technologies. Assessment methods are designed to include the appropriate  measurements for those competencies stated in course outcomes, to reinforce the learning activities and are considerate of the available technologies.   
  • Assessment of student learning is timely, appropriate and responsive to the needs of the individual learner.
Assessment of student learning is established but is given at times that
do not support student learning (extended periods have passed
between learning
activities and
assessments).
Assessment of student learning is established and is progressing
toward timely
assessments but is not supportive to the needs of diverse learners
(assessments are given in one format)
Assessment of student learning is established and is given in a time-period that supports student learning. Assessments are
designed with student population in mind (assessments may be developed to support the special needs of individual learners).
Assessment of student learning is established and is given in a time-period that supports the student’s learning (soon after learning activities have taken place). Assessments are designed so that they are appropriate and responsive to the needs of the individual learner, (ex.  alternative measures may be taken for students with special needs, assessments are designed to reflect the student population and that meet the needs of diverse learning styles)     
  • Assessment of student achievement is conducted by comparing student performance to the intended learning outcomes.
Assessment of student achievement is implemented but there is a lack of reflection on the intended learning outcomes.   Assessment of student achievement is implemented and there is some comparison to stated learning outcomes but still lacks an appropriate connection between the student’s performance and the stated learning outcomes.   Assessment of student achievement is implemented and there is a correlation between the student’s performance and the stated learning outcomes.   Assessment of student achievement is implemented and the student’s performance demonstrates cohesiveness between the stated learning outcomes and the given assessment.        
  • Policies and procedures ensure the integrity of the student's work.
Polices and procedures are in place in the course site but are vague and not easily located.  Policies and procedures are in place in the course site, are easily located, but lack clarity. Policies and procedures are in place in the course
site, are easily located, and provide clarity to the reader regarding their
responsibility.
Policies and procedures are in place in the course site, are easily located, provide clarity to the reader regarding their responsibility, and reflect the institution's policies to ensure the integrity of student’s work.         
  • Achievement of learning outcomes is documented.
Student’s achievement of stated learning outcomes is implied. Student’s achievement of stated learning outcomes is reflected in their learning activities and their assessments. Student’s achievement of stated learning outcomes is observed within their activities and their assessments, and is documented in the appropriate area. Student’s achievement of stated learning outcomes is documented and provided to the student as feedback on their learning activities and assessments, and is documented in the course site where it is accessible to the instructor. (May include use of a rubric that demonstrates what achievement will look like and requires both student and instructor input.)   
Course Technologies:          
Only the Online Distance Platform (e.g. Blackboard 5) is identified as the course technology using this as a one-size fits all model. The Online Distance Platform is identified along with some use of alternative technology.  There is little discussion on the use of these technologies.   The Online Distance Platform is identified as part of a plan which will utilize alternative  technologies at hand to achieve the learning required by the course outcomes.  There is no specific technology tied to a specific outcome.  A variety of technologies are evident for the specific course outcomes.  In addition to the Online Distance Platform, specific CD-ROM, web-site URL’s, chat and instant messaging,  course packs, course cartridges, .portable document format (.pdf), power point,  html, xml, real-audio, real-slideshow, quicktime, flash, and other plug-ins are identified.  This would be information imparted to the student on the syllabus or first day handout.  There would be opportunities to discuss the use of these technologies as they specifically relate to the various outcomes of the course.         
  • Student minimum technology requirements are accurately and clearly stated.
The expectation is that student will enroll in online course with necessary technology to be successful. Course Materials (Syllabus, First Day Handout) indicate the student technology requirements in a broad sense. Course Materials (Syllabus, First Day Handouts, Web Site, Printed) indicate the minimum student requirements for technology and offer assistance with technology questions (FAQ, counselor, helpdesk). Course Materials indicate the minimum student technology requirements and offer assistance to include orientation and testing of the student’s technology either from a distance or through workshops.  Also, included is a contingency plan in case the technology fails either the student or the faculty.  “What if” scenarios are spelled out for the student, so that there are no surprises.  
Course Resources:          
  • Course resources are accessible to the learners (all downloads are identified and made available to student)
Course resources are part of the learning in a static manner with none identified or made available to the student.   Course resources are accessible to the learner in a limited manner, with some downloads not available to dial-up modems due to their complex structure.    Course resources are accessible to the learner with the majority of the downloads available to dial-up modems.  Some capacity exists to place these in the resource center (library) on CD-ROMs.   Course resources are accessible with all of the downloads identified and made available to the student.  This includes active download, CD-ROM, library loan, bookstore availability, and use of special software and hardware to make them available to physically challenged students.        
  • Course resources are in accordance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Course resources have not been tested to be in compliance with ADA. Course resources have been tested against a limited level of text-based or voice-command software for visually impaired or hearing impaired students. Course resources have been tested against text-based and voice-command software and discrepancies identified and fixes implemented to correct for most of these. Course resources are fully in accordance with the ADA and are fully accessible to all students.  Instructions are available on the site instructing those with disabilities on how to access all course resources.  
  • Preparation and/or adoption of textbooks and other instructional materials have input from appropriately qualified people.
There is very little coordination in the selection of instructional materials and textbooks. There are guidelines and procedures in place for selecting and adopting  textbooks and instructional materials. There are guidelines and procedures that are used and reviewed by appropriately qualified people. These include instructors and faculty that teach online. There are guidelines and procedures that are reviewed by appropriately qualified people on a regular basis.  The Online and distance education faculty have a strong role in selecting these materials.  There is a plan for choosing alternate texts as required.  
  • Reading level of instructional materials is identified.
There is no process for identifying the reading level of the instructional materials. College materials that are made available by the various publishing houses are at higher education reading levels. College materials are identified as appropriate for the student audience at a specific reading level.  These are identified in the Course syllabus or First Day Handout. College materials are analyzed for appropriate reading levels.  Students with ADA related issues are directed to resources that are appropriate for them. Students with learning issues as identified in ASSET/COMPASS or other assessment instruments are counseled appropriately before enrolling in online courses.  
Course Maintenance:          
  • The learning design is evaluated regularly for effectiveness:  both student and instruction components.
No evaluation of the learning design exists except perhaps at the onset of the online course development.   The learning design is evaluated for effectiveness from the perspective of the faculty member prior to delivery of the first iteration of the course.  The learning design is evaluated for effectiveness from both student and instruction perspectives prior to and including the first iteration of the course.  The learning design is evaluated on a regular basis for effectiveness from both student and instruction perspectives.  The results of this evaluation are tied to a continuous review and improvement of the course.  These reviews are part of the documentation of the course.     
  • Plan is in place for continual review and improvement of course.
No plan is in place.  Review is at the faculty discretion with improvement provided on an as needed basis. A basic overview and checklist is in place.  Review occurs initially with the first iteration of the course, and is left with the faculty to correct for the next iteration of the course.  Students provide evaluations of the course which may be reviewed with the faculty member and their supervisor. A written plan is in place and the course is reviewed on an annual or longer basis with some requirement to implement the changes that have been identified,

A written plan is in place for review of the course on a regular basis with the focus on continual improvement.  Normally, this would be a self-assessment instrument or checklist that a faculty member would use to identify issues with the course.  Students would provide feedback with course evaluations and survey instruments.  Normally, the course would undergo greater review during it’s first iteration online.

A peer review process might be in place to assist faculty with issues that arise in the course.

 

 
Course Development and Support:          
  • Faculty have been provided with appropriate training and technical support.
Faculty do not have access to any informal or formal training opportunities or technical support.    Training opportunities are informal and consist of peer-to-peer assistance and observations with no additional technical support. Faculty are provided both informal and formal training opportunities and just-in-time technical support.   Faculty have access to some formal Online Teaching Certification program and technical support is provided at all levels of course development.   
  • Faculty have access to appropriate technical infrastructure.
Faculty access to technical infrastructure is limited to certain computer laboratories on campus.   Faculty have access to infrastructure and have a computer at their campus office only.  Faculty have access to infrastructure and have a computer at their campus office only, and restrictive access to infrastructure from home. Faculty have access to appropriate technical infrastructure both at the office and at home.   
  • Qualified instructional designers have an appropriate role in course development.
No instructional designer input is available during course development.   Faculty have limited access to an instructional designer during course development, mainly as a review process when course development is completed.   Faculty have access to instructional designer during all phases of course development.   Faculty have consistent access to instructional designer during all phases of course development and implementation.   



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