The only experience I have with evaluating an online course was building my own online course in EDTECH 521 and evaluating it (and those of my classmates) against the assignment rubric. Looking at an online course from the outside using a professional evaluation rubric is something new so I really enjoyed the reading Benchmarking Quality in Online Teaching and Learning: A Rubric for Course Construction and Evaluation by Ternus, Palmer, & Faulk (2007). I wish I would have had this rubric to guide me in the design of my online course.
The intention of the authors was to create a rubric for the evaluation of any online program. I felt this may be a daunting task, but through the reading I found the authors seemed to approach the development and evaluation of the rubric appropriately, using Subject Matter Experts, seasoned online teachers, and etc. Two key points caught my attention while reading about the process they went through to create such a thorough evaluation rubric:
1. The description of the issues with online learning
2. The definition of a rubric and therefore how this rubric could be applied
I found myself imagining some of my faculty members when I read about the issues surrounding online teaching and learning. Ternus et al., (2007) describes these issues as including, “faculty readiness and willingness, administrative and infrastructure support, accessibility, student success, costs, efficiency and effectiveness issues” (p. 53). The term “willingness” is important to address when asking faculty members to try a new venue or tool. Some may be resistant, some may not believe in the effectiveness of the “tool”. In my experience in the K-12 arena, many teachers jump into using new tools with low expectations and find themselves believing in the use of new technologies in the classroom. I’d like to see some research on the beliefs and feelings of online instructors before and after initially instructing online.
The second part of the reading I found fascinating was the definition of a rubric and the examples of how this particular rubric could be applied. Ternus et al. (2007) state, “A good rubric can facilitate a definition of excellence, communicate exemplary practices, communicate goals or expectations, and allow for accurate and consistent evaluation of a body of work by documenting the procedures used in making judgments. A rubric organizes and clarifies criteria along a continuum in such a way that two individuals who apply the rubric to a body of work will generally arrive at a similar score” (p. 54). This definition focuses what it is their rubric is intended to accomplish. It allowed the authors to create a broad rubric in order to evaluate mass quantities and types of online courses. When I think about using a rubric in the K-12 environment, I use the same type of broad rubric to assess all different types of apps and websites. It creates an environment where the language is consistent and the audience feels comfortable with the evaluation.
I have a new view on my idea of online learning after reading this paper. It was a great way to start this course because it gives me a starting point for understanding what is important in an online course for adults, not just K-12 students!
Ternus, M. P., Palmer, K. L., & Faulk, D. R. (2007). Benchmarking quality in online teaching and learning: A rubric for course construction and evaluation. Journal of Effective Teaching, 7(2), 51-67.