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  • German A. Ramirez

Making the most of online teaching & learning in times of crisis

Whether your institution has been using online learning for a while or is considering it to respond to the recent restrictions on student mobility derived from the COVID-19 health crisis, in this post we share a list of benchmarks to keep in mind. The elements and practices listed are compiled from different sources, and can be used as baseline for the design, development and delivery of online programs and courses that benefit your students.

Institutional Support

  • Online learning is part of the institution’s strategy and long-term plan, and is closely aligned with the mission and values.

  • A governance structure is in place to enable sound decision-making related to online education.

  • Sufficient allocation of human, financial and technological resources.

  • Institutional policies and guidelines to meet regulatory and accreditation requirements.

Technology Support

  • A documented technology plan that includes electronic security measures (e.g., password protection, encryption, proctored exams, etc.) to ensure quality and compliance, and the integrity and validity of information.

  • Program and course delivery systems are highly reliable and operable with measurable standards.

  • A centralized system provides support for building and maintaining the online teaching and learning infrastructure.

  • The institution has a contingency plan for the continuity of data centers and support services in case of prolonged service disruption.

  • Faculty, staff, and students are supported in the development and use of new technologies.

Course Design & Development

  • Course development guidelines are in place to ensure courses are designed so that students achieve measurable learning outcomes.

  • Minimum course development requirements related to design and delivery of online instruction (i.e course syllabus, materials, assessment methods, etc.) are in place, accessible and periodically reviewed.

  • Curriculum development is a core responsibility for faculty; as such, faculty are involved in the development and decision-making for the online curriculum.

  • Rules for appropriate online student behavior are provided within the course.

Course Structure

  • Students are provided with a syllabus that outlines course objectives, concepts, and ideas; learning methods and outcomes are spelled out clearly.

  • The course structure ensures that all online students, regardless of location, have access to library/learning resources that adequately support online courses.

Teaching & Learning

  • Instructors use effective strategies to create a presence in the course.

  • Student interactions with faculty and other students are an essential characteristic and are encouraged and facilitated.

  • Students are instructed in the proper methods of effective research, including discerning the validity of sources/resources.

  • Feedback to student assignments and questions is constructive and timely.

Student Support

  • Before starting an online program, students receive information about programs, including admission requirements, tuition and fees, books and supplies, technical and proctoring requirements, and student support services.

  • Students have access to required course materials in print and/or digital format, such as textbooks, book suppliers, and delivery modes prior to course enrollment.

  • Throughout the duration of the course/program, students have access to technical assistance and support staff.

  • Opportunities are provided to engage students with the program, institution, faculty and peers in order to minimize feelings of isolation and ensure success.

  • Students are provided non-instructional support services such as admission, financial assistance, registration/enrollment, etc.

  • Students have access to academic, career and personal counseling.

Faculty Support

  • The institution ensures faculty receive training, assistance, and support to prepare faculty for course development and delivery.

  • Faculty have access to training, online resources and support related to intellectual property, plagiarism, and other relevant legal and ethical concepts.

  • Technical assistance is provided for faculty during course development and online teaching.

  • Clear standards are established for faculty engagement and expectations around online teaching (e.g. response time, contact information, etc.) and periodically reviewed.

Evaluation and Assessment

  • Programs and courses are assessed through an evaluation process that applies specific standards.

  • Academic and administrative data are used regularly to evaluate program effectiveness and promote systematic and continuous improvement.

  • Intended learning outcomes are reviewed regularly to ensure pertinence and effectiveness.

  • A process is in place and followed for the institutional assessment of faculty online teaching performance, support services for faculty and students, and student retention.

Contact us to learn more about how GRG Education can assist your institution in making the most of online teaching and learning.

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