Quality Assurance for Online Courses 2019-20

California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo

Cal Poly's Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology provides support and informed and consistent quality reviews for all faculty who are teaching online and hybrid courses, and promotes online course development across the University. 

Campus Quality Assurance Goals

Campus Goals for Quality Assurance

Our goals for the 2019-20 academic year included:

  • Summer training for approximately 18 faculty in our annual Introduction to Online Teaching & Learning workshop
  • Provide training and stipends to nine faculty for our annual Quality Online Teaching Academy, with the goal of five course reviews
  • Hosting Drop-In hands-on workshop days
  • Monthly "Innovative Teaching" lunchtime presentations to help faculty determine if they would like to teach an online course
  • Revision of Cal Poly's "eLearning Policy" from 2012 See below for updates!



Background on Quality Assurance Efforts 

In the past year, the CTLT has expanded support for quality online and hybrid course development, so we have experience and existing programming to build upon through this new CSU initiative. CTLT’s current support for online and hybrid courses has included multimedia, web conferencing, OER online materials, and UDL, as well as a strong online delivery through the Flipped Classroom courses. 

In the past few years, we have felt this was a slow-moving process, but this year we have seen much of our hard work and preparation pay off well with a surge of interest in quality online courses. The QA grants have given us a solid foundation for creating resources and feedback that align with the highest standards in online teaching, and that has gone a long way toward calming the concerns of faculty in regards to online teaching.

Summer Online Teaching "Boot Camp" 

This summer we will continue to offer our very popular Cal Poly / QLT version of the Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning course (IOTL), revised as a 3-week course to accelerate completion for approximately 200 faculty. This serves as the launching point for the QOTA, but is also open to any faculty interested in teaching online. As a compliment this year to the three-week curriculum, all faculty will be encouraged to sign up for the QA workshops relating to the QLT to better prepare them for a peer review of their online courses. 

Next Steps for QA Efforts 

Cal Poly faculty still struggle with determining how our courses appear in the CourseMatch system, as the articulation does not appear to favor the quarter system, however there is a growing interest in producing online courses that can be taught throughout the year rather than only in the summer session.

Currently, our biggest "surprise" issue is bringing the majority of our faculty up to speed with online teaching techniques. In addition to the 200+ faculty we're training this summer, we are hoping to bring in a group of QOTA / Q2 faculty to help mentor others in each of our colleges.

While the events of the past half year have been profoundly challenging, we've been excited to have so many great resources in place to meet the needs of our new online teaching faculty!

Growth and challenges
This year we began our migration from Moodle to Canvas and we had put a lot of work into our migration workshops in the months just prior to the Covid conversion (a fortunate timing indeed!) In addition, we

  • Created online recorded Zoomed workshops to build a library of campus resources during the Covid conversion
  • Created several self-paced online Canvas workshops that we shared out to the commons
  • Incorporated approximately 20 faculty as 'mentors' in their colleges to help the transition to virtual teaching
  • Created a new campus template for online courses that incorporates the "Core 24" of the QLT instrument, and shared that out to the Canvas Commons
  • Set up weeks of one-on-one consultation sessions scheduled through Calendly and Zoom to help faculty with their transition to online teaching

Workshop Development 

In 2019-20, we will again offer our year-long Quality Online Teaching Academy. One of the stipulations of receiving funding is to complete the QA workshops and submit a course for QLT review, with the goal of producing a CourseMatch course. Unfortunately, the pandemic has changed our offerings somewhat, and we have only had four faculty enroll for 20-21, however we will continue to work with those faculty throughout the year.
In the upcoming year, we will offer a series of introductory workshops to faculty who are interested in exploring more advanced areas of online teaching and learning. Rather than offering stipends for these events, we will model this after our very successful “Drop-In” events, and offer these meetings via Zoom, or in person (after the pandemic is over) with a lunch option for those who attend.

Quality Assurance Project Results

Training Completions

Goals Achieved:

  • Seventeen faculty completed our Introduction to Online Teaching and Learning course in summer 2019
  • Nine faculty completed the Quality Online Teaching Academy (QOTA) training, two internal course reviews are in process, and eight internal reviews have been completed (including two from the previous year's cohort). 
  • Nine workshop days delivered, with 3-9 attendees at each event
  • Ten lunchtime presentations delivered on the topic of Online Teaching & Learning, and three of the faculty who attended will be included in this year's upcoming QOTA

    Course Peer Review and Course Certifications

    Our faculty continue to embrace internal reviews but are slow to post their courses for external (formal) reviews. We are attempting to change the perception that their courses are "hidden" from the CourseMatch system due to the quarter system articulation, and we hope to have more courses reviewed this coming year as we are no longer going to offer internal informal reviews (only peer reviews) so any further review will be done through the CSU formal process.

    Student Quality Assurance Impact Research 

    This past year we had two faculty (Anelise Sabbag and Samuel Frame) research student engagement in online environments and the impact this has on retention, grades and other student success factors. Those faculty will be participating in the full SQAIR project in the coming year. 

    Accessibility/UDL Efforts

    This past year, our UDL specialist, Pam Dougherty, created a fully online 4-week intensive course in Accessibility and UDL as well as a shorter self-paced courser for those needing a quicker dive into the topic. We were pleased to receive approval for Q1 equivalency for those faculty passing both the IOTL course and the Creating Accessible Course Materials (CACM) course, and quite a few faculty from QOTA took advantage of the Q2 training, bringing our total campus number to 36 Q2 trained faculty.

    We also made strides toward the adoption of ALLY into our LMS, currently on hold as we migrate from Moodle to Canvas, but our goal is to implement ALLY in the coming year.

Innovative Topics - Lunchtime Discussions

This year we continued our three quarterly (12 total) topical lunchtime presentations and discussions about online teaching. The topics rotated between the following:

  1. Myths, Opportunities and Unicorns in Online Teaching & Learning
  2. Navigating Cal Poly's Pathways to Online Teaching Success
  3. The Quality Online Teaching Academy at Cal Poly
  4. A Panel Discussion from Faculty Who Have Just Taught Online!

These presentations were well attended and lively, and we look forward to holding more in the coming year if we are back on campus!

Canvas Conversion

Image shows a 59% course conversion rate to the Canvas platform (red line) between Fall '19 and Spring '20.

Cal Poly began the transition from its Learning Management System, PolyLearn-Moodle, to Canvas in Winter 2020. The two systems will run alongside one another during Spring and Summer, with Canvas fully implemented in Fall of 2020. Tonia Malone has offered amazing and dedicated oversight to this conversion, as well as developing the Canvas Support Site for faculty.

In addition, the team has created a set of online resources for faculty during the conversion that includes stand-alone, self-paced workshops, recorded zoom sessions and one-page help documents. Those can be found at the Canvas workshops page

Policy Updates

  • This was our second year partnering with the Academic Senate Curriculum Committee, and we turned our attention to the revision of the 2012 Senate Resolution on eLearning and our curricular approval process.
  • Adopted! Here is our new Academic Senate Online Learning Policy!
Our program:
Cal Poly’s primary quality assurance activities supporting online education are offered through our Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology (CTLT), located in the Robert E. Kennedy Library. The QA team is led by Catherine Hillman, Instructional Designer (and also current faculty in the College of Business), and the team offers robust support in the areas of teaching pedagogy, Learning Management System (Moodle), Multimedia and other content development and delivery, Accessibility, and assessment. In addition, the Quality Online Teaching Academy engages faculty in a peer-mentoring process during course development and delivery.
Quality Assurance Lead
  • Catherine Hillman, MS Ed.

Instructional Design Team

  • Luanne Fose, Ph.D.
  • Tonia Malone, MS Ed.
  • Pamela Dougherty, MS Ed.

Supporting Campus Partners 

  • Academic Programs & Planning
  • Center for Teaching, Learning & Technology