Academic Quality Review – I am Glad We Met

I wanted to make the nonlearning stuff easy for students. They didn’t take my class to become experts in navigating Learning Management Systems. In my haste (and inexperience) I think I made things worse. The good news is I got better thanks to faculty who took the time to mentor me.

My mistake was thinking I had to create a solution to an age old problem. I have been an adjunct at multiple institutions and I also experienced a variety of LMS “standards” as a student. It felt nightmarish. as a successful adult enrolled in classes, I didn’t always know where to find assignments that were coming due. I didn’t always know which reading material went with which units. As an adjunct in another institution the only guidance I got when trying to create (from scratch) my LMS was “use your best judgement”. When I had the opportunity to overhaul a class I thought that I could “solve this problem”. My department already had solved it. It was just up to me to follow it.

After creating an easy to follow set of links along with videos and helper documents, I was very proud. A fellow faculty reviewed it, and reminded me that it did not follow the AQR standards we have in our department and throughout the college. I had a few emotions run through me – disappointment, dread, and finally excitement. I went from being disappointed that all my work was not lavished in praise, to dreading the rework I had to do, to being excited that I would meet my original goal. Students who had taken other classes at Columbus State would intuitively know how to navigate the LMS because their experience in other classes would translate to navigational success in mine with little to no effort on their part. The nonlearning stuff would be easy.

To be honest I don’t know that I am convinced that the standard LMS setup is the best. I haven’t reflected on it deeply, and I haven’t asked questions or dug into any of the research that led to it. What I do know is that students will find it easier to navigate my course if it looks and feels like others they have experienced. Even if it is not perfect, that fact that when they learn to navigate a single course, they know how to navigate all courses means that they can spend more time learning and less time trying to navigate to figure out what the heck they need to learn.

If you are updating a course, seek out someone familiar with the AQR standards. Ask for their advice, and offer your insights. Then you can make changes and know the impact to students, your department and perhaps even the next Higher Ed review.

Additional Resources:
AQR at Columbus State here – http://iti.cscc.edu/deis2/resources.html

Paper on AQR from 2006 https://er.educause.edu/articles/2006/1/establishing-a-quality-review-for-online-courses

Study on LMS standardization https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1557308717301087

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