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Photo: University of Arizona
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | August/September 2017
Every module or unit included in the course map must have learning objectives spelled out. Learning objectives are at the core of the online module. Faculty usually have these embedded in their content, but may not make them as transparent as they need to be for an online course, noted Romanoski. “We have to remind them in an online course they don’t necessarily have two to three interactions when they can remind the students what the objectives for that week are.”
Creating and revising learning objectives can be a “rocky” process, he added. “But as we move through future
Course mapping
iterations, we’re able to refine those [and] make them more meaningful.”
Also, every course is required to include a “Start Here” menu that adheres to Quality Matters online quality assur- ance rubrics, of which the university is a proponent. That’s where components such as accessibility, copyright and navigation functionality live.
“We want the students coming into the course already knowing how to navigate it no matter what UA Online course they’re in, so they can get right into focusing on content,” said Romanoski. As a side benefit, consistency
reduces the amount of e-mail instructors get early in the course from students asking for help in finding what they need.
Continuous Improvement
As a Quality Matters institution, UA has trained its instructional designers in the use of QM’s rubrics and maintains a “pretty robust internal review process,” said Janet Smith, the quality assurance coordinator for UA Online. Every semester, about a quarter of courses in the program are undergoing reviews.
Each course also gets a “design inventory” every semester, she noted, to document “absolutely mission- critical standards that we want to make sure courses are meeting from the very beginning.” Those become internal documents given back to instructional designers for future attention. However, that pace is hardly sustainable. There, the focus may shift to assess only those courses that are redesigns, since they tend to need more adjustment. “It’s easier to ensure the quality of a course when it is built new than when we’re trying to retrofit it,” she explained.
Since reviews aren’t the most popular activity for faculty to participate in, Smith tries to make them as lightweight as possible. “We know the first time [a course] goes through a QM review, it’s going to have a lot of issues. We expect that,” Smith said. To counterbalance the burden, she

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