Thank you to the LTDC for the professional development grant to attend the Second Annual Quality Matters Conference held June 11-13 in Oak Brook, IL, at the very unique and beautiful Hamburger University on the McDonalds Corporate Campus. We didn’t have time to clown around at the conference but instead networked with many others’ who are utilizing Quality Matters and attended many useful sessions.
My goal for attending this conference was to investigate how other universities implement Quality Matters and to learn best practices. Leif Nelson from Green Bay also reported on the same conference so I will not repeat the same useful information he shared since we did attend some of the same sessions. By the way, I did attend Leif’s very useful session on his online Applying the Rubric course, which I highly recommend.
Following are a few highlights from two sessions I found provided useful information.
Keynote presentation by Penny Ralston-Berg, Instructional Designer at Penn State World Campus: “Do quality standards matter to students?
The answer was “yes, quality matters” based on student feedback. Penny conducted a survey that was taken by over 2300 students from 31 intuitions from 22 states.
The top factors that student said influenced quality are instructor-related (highest rated), course design, learning materials, clear expectations, student interaction, feedback, delivery and flexibility. Penny found an interesting finding that students highly rate some of the standards that are not required 3-points standards by Quality Matters. Some of these included the importance of sharing personal insights and experiences beyond the readings and “I gain knowledge and skills that I will use after the class is over.” The findings also indicated that relevance and alignment were more important than any specific media, tool, or delivery mode.
For more details on the survey in addition to suggestions Penny shared for addressing the students’ feedback, go to: http://www.slideshare.net/plr15/QM2010Keynote
Half-day preconference session “Building Your Hybrid Course” conducted by Rhonda Spells., Director eLearning Services, Prince George’s Community College.
This was the first time this workshop was offered by Quality Matters. Rhonda said that a hybrid course should be organized like an online course, by modules, so both the face-to-face and online time have equal importance for students. Both components also need to refer to the opposite component. Good quote: “Worrying about seat time is worrying about the wrong end of the student.” Instead she said it is important to focus on learning instead of room scheduling.
Another tip was to train instructors who will be teaching hybrid/blended courses to teach and design fully online courses first, then provide information and strategies for blended courses. The logic is that blended instructors need to be online, face-to-face, and blended experts. Rhonda shared a course plan for instructors to fill out before they develop a blended course that includes: face-to-face meeting times, process for what will do online and what will do face-to-face, learning outcomes, and benefits of teaching in a blended format. She also shared a module-planning sheet based on QM standards.
A couple of the key questions for QM Standards in blended courses included:
Standard 1: Course Overview and Introduction
• Is it apparent that this is a blended course?
• Are the online and face-to-face components clearly explained?
• Is it clear when and where students need to participate? Online? F2F?
• Will a student know what to do even if they miss the F2F session
• Is it clear how the online and face-to-face components are organized? The relationship between them?
Standard 3: Assessment and Measurement:
• Does the grading policy reflect the blended components?
• Is it clear where the assessments will take place? Online vs. on campus?
Standard 4: Resources and Materials
• Is it clear where instructional materials will be delivered?
• Is it clear how instructional materials and learning activities will be delivered? Online vs. on-campus?
Standard 5: Learner Engagement
• Is it clear where these activities will take place? Online or on-campus?
• Is it clear where the course interaction will take place? Online or on-campus?
Standard 6: Course Technology
• Is it clear where the student is to complete the activities?
• Is the relationship between the online and on-campus components consistent throughout the course?
There were many more workshops that shared great information. I would suggest attending the next Quality Matters Conference so we can share best practices and learn from each other.
Feel free to contact me if you would like more information about the conference, Quality Matters, or blended learning and teaching.