Approval categories from eCampus Alberta’s review of online course quality. eCampus collects posts courses created by individual colleges and universities from all over Alberta. It acts as a guide only to what is available and students are directed to the institution that creating the course for enrollment. To use their service an institution must have their course reviewed by eCampus editors and returned with comments is the course doesn’t meet their standards. Very useful service.
Below are the three achievement categories for approval with my comments in italics.
Course Information Standards
The approved course outline/syllabus is included in the course. If the current course outline/syllabus is not available during the review process, a past course outline/syllabus or placeholder for such is provided and is identified as such.
For design departments that build courses using past outlines and other placeholders are a bad idea. Always complete the outline/syllabus and if it is an instructor initiated course design always get the this in writing prior to review. We’ve had courses sit for a long time waiting for the outline or the designers do it and the instructors feel we have intruded on their area of expertise and expectation.
The course outline/syllabus relates directly to the online course, including credit hours, course description, required materials, course grading, assignments and online participation requirements (e.g., discussions, checking e-mail regularly, logging in regularly, etc.). Departmental instructor information and institutional academic polices are included.
Much better list plus always add a guide to accessing grades. We use a side block for instructor information: name, contact hours, email and phone. Also sprinkle reminders to use the email address for private questions instead of the discussion area. Questions coming by email are usually more dire, relate to specific difficulties and can be openly answered by the instructor without giving the student’s name. Good list that will allow students to “operate” the course by themselves—like furniture from IKEA the instructions are complete.
The course outline/syllabus is learner-centred. The outline/syllabus is reviewed with the learners by the instructor at the beginning of the course (e.g., in an asynchronous or synchronous discussion, presentation, etc.).
Vague on what constitutes a “learner centered” course. Experience from edits tells me this focuses on presentation consistency and these people WILL drive you crazy if the course is the least bit personal, quirky or non-linear. To save the course from looking like every other bowl of oatmeal they throw the instructor in to serve the stuff. This is important to the cause of human presence in online material and our good instructors frequently announce themselves and also pester students to work together. The instructor “being there” keeps the idea of learning as an active practice throughout the course.