Quality Assurance for blended and online courses

2019-20 — CSUSB— Quality Assurance in Online/Hybrid Teaching

Proposal Summary:  For 2019-20, our target was to continue and grow our E-Learning Academy program, a two-year faculty professional development program for redesigning several campus bottleneck courses for online or hybrid teaching. The COVID-19 campus closure shifting our priorities to the need for developing emergency campus resources for distance learning and for creating a campus infrastructure of support for all faculty and students.

Campus QA Goals

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent campus closure in March 2019 has dramatically altered the priorities of CSUSB’s QA program. Whereas the campus GI2025 commitment and the campus efforts to transition to a semester-based instruction in Fall 2020 have not changed, our focus has shifted mid-year to training both faculty and students in virtual instruction. 

Campus Goal for Quality Assurance
Our revised campus goals for the online/hybrid QA program in 2019-20 were: 

  1. Provide emergency and long-term professional development to all faculty for virtual instruction; 
  2. Onboard students into virtual learning environments via a LMS course
  3. Create a campus repository of training materials, technology demos, and resources to for faculty instructional continuity 
  4. Create a campus repository of emergency student resources for distance learning during campus closure
  5. Continue the E-Learning Academy, a campus-wide year-long program of faculty professional development in online teaching targeting bottleneck courses; 
  6. Continue the development of department- and college-specific professional development to improve the general online teaching competency of faculty

Quality Assurance Lead(s)

  • Dr. Mihaela Popescu, CSUSB QA Campus Lead, Faculty Associate with Academic Technology and Innovation (ATI)

Supporting Campus Partners

  • Dr. Shari McMahan, Provost
  • Dr. Sam Sudhakar, VP for Information Technology Services, CSUSB CIO
  • Dr. Bradford Owen, Interim Director of ATI
  • ATI Instructional Designers
  • Dr. Jo Anna Grant, Director of the Teaching Resource Center (TRC), co-Director of the Faculty Center for Excellence (FCE)
  • Christine Fundell, Accessibility Specialist, ATI
  • Instructional Continuity Committee, an ad-hoc committee composed of senior administrators, Faculty Senate representatives, and faculty developers, established to overview the campus response to COVID-19 challenges

Campus Commitment Toward Sustainability of QA Efforts

  • The Provost's Office, Academic Technologies & Innovation, and the Teaching Resource Center work together to ensure funding for faculty development with online/hybrid teaching
  • Information Technology Services funds the Assistive Technology & Accessibility Center, which supports all campus accessibility services in online/hybrid teaching
  • Information Technology Services funds campus licenses for the academic technologies used in online teaching

Summary of Previous QA  Accomplishments

  • CSUSB uses both QLT and QM. Since AY 2013-14, over 200 faculty and staff members enrolled CSU QA online courses in order to prepare for online/hybrid teaching; 
  • The number of online/hybrid sections at CSUSB grew from 150 in Fall 2014 to 275 in Fall 2019. The enrollment in online/hybrid courses grew from 5,258 in Fall 2014 to 9,272 in Fall 2019. 
  • The campus successfully piloted Blackboard Ally
  • The E-Learning Academy program, launched in 2018-19, helped 12 faculty design online sections of bottleneck courses
  • Two instructional designers co-facilitate QLT online courses for the CSU QA program.

Dissemination of QA Efforts

On April 14, 2020, Information Technology Services organized its annual ITS Tech Talks on the topic of distance learning. During the panel “Online Education During Unprecedented Times,” faculty who underwent QA training talked about best practices, gave advice, discussed the challenges of online teaching, highlighted some of their favorite online tools, and answered audience questions.

Craig Seal, management, Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration; Oraib Mango, world languages and literatures, College of Arts and Letters; Sharon Kalkoske, teacher education and foundation, College of Education; and Bibiana Diaz, world languages and literatures, College of Arts and Letters. Mihaela Popescu, ATI faculty associate and professor in communication studies, served as the moderator.


Quality Assurance Results

Training Completions

Prior to COVID-19 campus closure, in 2019-20, 47 faculty attended QM or QLT training programs offered by the Office of the Chancellor, a 38% increase from last year.

Number of faculty who attended QM/QLT sessions since 2013-24


During March-April 2020, CSUSB sought to meet the demands of training faculty to transition to virtual environments. To that purpose:

  • our campus, via its Academic Technologies and Innovation department, delivered over 100 Zoom workshops for about 1,000 participants (350 estimated unique faculty) covering the following topics (Goal 1): using the campus LMS, Blackboard, for teaching at a distance; using Blackboard-integrated tools such as VoiceThread, Playposit, and GoReact to increase student engagement and interaction; implementing QLT principles of online course design.
  • the QA team created an emergency “task force” of five “tech fellows” from each college to serve as a resource for discipline-specific questions.

In addition to designing and facilitating training and professional development for faculty for COVID-19-converted courses, we continued our E-Learning Academy program (Goal 5). The E-Learning Academy program is a two-year faculty learning community (FLC) designed to assist faculty in redesigning online or hybrid sections of campus bottleneck courses. During 2019-20, the FLC included 17 faculty teaching 15undergraduate courses as follows: CAL 3300, Art and Ideas in a Changing Global World; COMM 1006, Oral Communication; COMM 1007, Critical Thinking through Argumentation; FIN 3002, Financial Choices in Life; HIST 1460, History of the United States; MGMT 3020, Organizational Behavior; MGMT 3500, Applied Communication; MGMT 3900, Principles of Strategy; PA 3150, Society, Business, Global Governance; PSYC 1105, Critical Thinking in Everyday Life; PSYC 1100, Introduction to Psychology; PSYC 3311, Research Methods in Psychology; PSYC 3360, Cognitive Psychology; PSYC 3385, Personality Psychology; SSCI 3160, Race and Racism. 

Post-COVID-19 E-Learning Academy workshop on Creating Effective Rubrics

Participants had the following to say about the program: 

  • “As an individual who has been teaching online for over 20 years, I’ve found the Academy has been thoughtfully designed to engage faculty with a wide range of experiences and skills to enhance their courses. The Academy gave me an opportunity to incorporate quick and easy tools, as well as more involved strategies to teach students and help them learn in a variety of ways and through a rich variety of media.” (ELA participant, English)
  • “I really benefited from some of the discussions we had when we were able to meet face-to-face. Discussing issues related to pedagogy and online instruction helped me develop a better understanding about how to approach my courses…Also, as result of the class, I feel like I have a much better understanding of the various forms of technology that can be incorporated into both online and face-to-face instruction. I think that these technologies will help improve the quality of my courses.” (ELA participant, Psychology)
  • “One of the early lessons was to re-frame the course navigation, to make it easier for students to follow and to provide guidance (such as ‘start here’ and ‘course overview & navigation’) that I had not thought to include. In terms of content, I have struggles, as someone who likes to lecture and conduct in-class experiential exercise, on how to bring that into an online environment.  By using VoiceThread and Zoom to support the readings, videos, and PPT; I feel I have ‘captured’ my voice in online learning, and then use the Discussion Boards, Journals, and team Assignments to bring the ‘in-class’ experiences into an online environment. Finally, I have learned (and now embrace) the need for greater accessibility…” (ELA participant, Management)  

Course Peer Review and Course Certifications

PA 672 Administrative Regulation taught by Dr. Montgomery Van Wart in fully online format received QLT certification. 

Student Quality Assurance Impact Research 

Our SQuAIR program was temporarily halted while the campus dealt with the impact of COVID-19. 

Development of Campus QA Resources

Perhaps the highest achievement of our QA program during these trying times was the creation of considerable campus and college-specific resources for distance learning for both faculty and students (Goals 1, 3 and 4). These resources include: 

Additionally, our campus is in the process of finalizing a Blackboard course for students, Learning at a Distance, the purpose of which is to onboard incoming students into the virtual learning environment (Goal 6). 

Screenshot of the "Learning at a distance" course for incoming students


Modeled after the Learning Online 101 course offered by CSUCI, our course, almost entirely developed for students for the students, focuses on providing incoming students with strategies for success in the new learning environments. 

Accessibility/UDL Efforts

  • The campus Accessible Technology Team continued the Blackboard Ally pilot. Fully implemented in Spring 2020 after a two-year pilot, Ally provides faculty with real-time information on the accessibility of their Blackboard courses and makes available alternative formats to students.
  • In Spring 2020, the use of Ally prompted the remediation of previously-inaccessible instructional materials in 23% of the cases. Specifically, in 76 of the courses using Ally across a variety of disciplines, faculty made an improvement toward increasing course accessibility;
  • The implementation of Ally resulted in the download of 16,648 alternative formats.
    The Accessible Technology Team remediated 435 instructional documents, captioned 572 videos
  • The QA Team delivered 12 workshops on accessibility/UDL issues

Next Steps for QA Efforts 

  • We will continue the second year of the E-Learning Academy program with our second cohort. We aim to have all faculty redesign their courses by the end of Fall 2020 and at least 50% of the faculty certify their courses by the end of Fall 2021
  • We will continue to include graduate teaching associates to assist faculty with the curation of online resources, and undergraduate students to offer feedback on various elements of the course redesign projects. 
  • We will organize a three-track summer program for training faculty in distance learning, as follows: 
    • Track 1 - basic QLT training via three Q1 sections offered to the campus (about 300 faculty targeted)
    • Track 2 - advanced pedagogical training for distance teaching and learning via faculty learning communities on topics of interest to each college (about 150 faculty targeted)
    • Track 3 - ACUE training via a CSU-negotiated program (about 50 faculty targeted)
  • We will renew our efforts to participate in the SQuAIR program
  • We will certify five courses (two courses are currently ready and waiting for the Fall 2020 certification cycle)
  • We will deploy a "Learning at a distance" onboarding course for students
  • We will continue to grow the campus repository of training materials and technology demos to assist faculty with online teaching.