Establishing a robust quality framework for online education

By miranda.prynne, 2 November, 2020
How can universities monitor and guarantee the quality of their online courses? Here Geo Laws talks about how establish a robust quality framework for online teaching
Article type

This video will cover: 

00:56 How to foster and monitor quality in teaching 

01:51 How to foster and monitor quality in instructional design 

02:57 How to foster and monitor quality in the administration of online learning 


Welcome to the Times Higher Education Campus. My name is Georgianna Laws and I’m a board of directors’ member of the United States Distance Learning Association.  

Let’s talk about establishing a robust quality framework for online education.  

If at any time you have any questions about the information I share here, or would like to discuss this topic further, please do not hesitate to email me. Now, let’s dive right in.   

Chief online education officers are the professionals in charge of quality in online higher education. Quality is derived from three layers: teaching, design, and administration.   

I’ll go over an example of measurement for each of these quality layers, but I would like you to know that the examples I present are not the only instruments out there, and I would encourage you to look at all your options and choose instruments that best suit your needs.   

Teaching is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of quality education.   

Institutions can foster quality in online teaching through online faculty teaching orientations or certifications, online faculty communities and peer mentoring, as well as teaching excellence awards and promotion and tenure.  

The key stakeholder in these initiatives is typically the institutional centre for teaching and learning, through its provision of faculty development.  

A key artefact is a supplement to the institutional faculty handbook, setting out expectations for  online faculty. One of the several proprietary instruments for measuring quality in teaching  is the Online Learning Consortium [OLC] Quality Course Teaching and Instructional Practice, which you can access freely here.

The quintessential elements of teaching online are captured in the seventh criterion, namely class discussions and engagement.  

Moving on to the second layer, instructional design support is most often associated with true online courses.   

Institutions can foster quality in online course design through online faculty design training and online design certification, course releases and development stipends, as well as Quality Matters course certification.  

Key stakeholders in instructional design are typically instructional designers, but could also include a number of other professionals.  

A key artefact is a course development process spelling out who does what, when and how. A proprietary instrument for measuring quality in online course design is the Quality Matters Rubric, which you can access freely here.

Of its eight domains, I would like to point out that quality in design is ensuring instructional alignment between learning objectives, activities and interactions, assessments, instructional materials, and choice of technology.  

Moving on to the third and final layer, given the broad scope of ensuring quality in the administration of online programmes, this effort involves a multitude of stakeholders with the main premise being not perfection, but rather continuous improvement.  

A key artefact is a plan spelling out strategic and operational details. A proprietary instrument for measuring quality in the administration of online programmes is the OLC quality scorecard, which again you can access freely here.

Of the eight domains in my research and practice, most critical to the quality of administration is the very first one, institutional support. 

If online is mission critical, then the institution hires a chief online education officer, gives them a title and authority commensurate with their responsibilities, and allocates resources to enable the chief online education officer to enact that mission.  

With that, I would like to thank you for watching this presentation. And please be sure to come back to the Times Higher Education Campus for more best practices in online teaching and learning from experts from around the world. 

This video was produced by Georgianna Laws who sits on the board of the United States Distance Learning Association

How can universities monitor and guarantee the quality of their online courses? Here Geo Laws talks about how establish a robust quality framework for online teaching