This site offers a rubric for assessing online instruction. Although it is specifically used by the Committee for Evaluation of Exemplary Online Courses at California State University Chico, it provides an effective tool for others to use.
Goals are to assess learner support and resources, online organization and design, instructional design and delivery, assessment and evaluation of student learning, and appropriate and effective use of technology. In addition, the site offers examples of high quality design elements for online instruction.
Target Student Population:
The site is intended for faculty who create online course as they reflect on ways to move courses to the online environment or to supplement existing courses with online resources.
Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
Some knowledge of pedagogy would be helpful to users to interpret some of the rubric jargon (such as learning objectives and performance expectations).
Type of Material:
The rubric is an assessment instrument that can be used for self-assessment or for nomination of exemplary online course materials.
Faculty development: the rubric can be used to evaluate existing courses or to guide development of new online courses.
The rubric is in Adobe Reader format.
Evaluation and Observation
This site offers a comprehensive rubric for self assessing online instruction. It provides quality examples of elements of exemplary online courses to illustrate the targeted components of the rubric. The five components in the rubric (learner support and resources, online organization and design, instructional design and delivery, assessment and evaluation of student learning, and appropriate and effective use of technology) are clearly important to the success of an online learning environment. Twocategories are consistently assessed across the components (and these are often overlooked in online instructional design) (1) Student feedback used to continually improve course content and (2) A focus on student learning, including critical thinking and formative feedback.
For online instruction to maximize impact on learning, it is important to consider whether learning competence is equal or superior to that of a traditional classroom. Such comparisons are justified and could lead to innovation in teaching styles. A goal should be for the limitations of the online teaching environment to be more than compensated by novel paradigms that work ( such as academic online discussions and collaborative learning). Questions might detail ways to assess whether students are actively engaged in the material, and whether each student participates in the communication. For an online learning environment to be high quality, the assessment tool should look for real depth to the studen' responses in each interaction between the professor and the students, and between the students themselves. The online environment could be superior to traditional courses in being able to establish a community of learners from which students derive motivation. If the students feel isolated,
then the online environment is not working to full potential. And the community of learners can reach beyond the walls of higher education to foster a desire for life-long learning. So a question that could be asked is whether technology is being used in a way that will lead students to continue to grow in their knowledge throughout their professional careers. In this category, one might consider use of knowledge produced by a professional organization (online journals or peer reviewed lectures) to be superior to use of knowledge from college-specific content delivery (such as local class lectures converted to streaming video).
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
The site offers a high quality model of an effective rubric with examples of exemplary work. The rubric is easy to use and will clearly lead to imprvements in any course where the faculty considers each component of the rubric and strives for exemplary level of performance.
The site is designed for higher education faculty use.
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
Very easy to navigate. The simplicity and clarity of the rubric, the examples provided, and the ability to print the rubric for use as a checklist make it very effective.
Additional components or another rubric to reach beyond specific course to address campus policies are needed to support online learning. In some cases, problems with online courses are not course specific, but they stem, instead, from campus policies that should be changed. For example, is access to technical support for students readily available? The rubric might be easy to use by individual faculty, but it will not positively impact the online learning environment if faculty have no mechanisms for influencing campus policies.
Other Issues and Comments:
Thanks are extended to the authors for sharing this excellent rubric. Online courses can be expected to improve with the use of this tool.