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Applying NEASC Best Practices to Ensure the Quality of Online Programs

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Brandeis University’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies offers entire graduate certificate and degree programs via distance learning. This presentation illustrates how the Division recently …

Brandeis University’s Division of Graduate Professional Studies offers entire graduate certificate and degree programs via distance learning. This presentation illustrates how the Division recently applied NEASC Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs to self-assess and assure the quality of its online programs, resulting in a successful re-accreditation.

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    • 1. BRANDEIS UNIVERSITY DIVISION OF GRADUATE PROFESSIONAL STUDIES (GPS) RABB SCHOOL OF CONTINUING STUDIES Applying NEASC Best Practices to Ensure the Quality of Online Programs Anne Marando Instructor; Coordinator of Distance Learning and Outcomes Assessment March 12, 2008
    • 2.
      • Copyright Anne Marando, 2008. This work is the intellectual property of the author. Permission is granted for this material to be shared for non-commercial, educational purposes, provided that this copyright statement appears on the reproduced materials and notice is given that the copying is by permission of the author. To disseminate otherwise or to republish requires written permission from the author.
    • 3.
      • Context
      • Components – NEASC Best Practices
      • Cycle of Improvement Initiatives
      • Distance Learning Infrastructure
      • Conclusions and Next Steps
      Agenda
    • 4.
      • Brandeis University
      • Rabb School of Continuing Studies
      • Division of Graduate Professional Studies
      Context
    • 5. Brandeis University Rabb School
      • Waltham, Massachusetts
      • Private research university with a liberal arts focus
    • 6. Graduate Professional Studies (GPS)
      • Founded in 1997
      • 46 active adjunct instructors
      • 2007: Awarded 74 masters degrees and 6 graduate certificates
      • Only School within University to offer DL courses for credit
    • 7. GPS Courses
      • 71 courses offered on a rotating basis, 33 of these are offered via distance learning (DL)
        • Developed from the campus-course counterpart
        • Standard online course week, Weds through Tues
        • Asynchronous
        • Rabb/GPS DL Course Standards
          • Online participation must be 30-50% of the student’s final grade
    • 8. GPS Instructors and Students
      • Instructors
        • Adjunct
        • Professionals working full-time in their fields
        • Most who teach DL also teach on campus
      • Graduate Students
        • Most are working professionals looking to advance their careers
        • Many take both DL and campus courses
        • Some are “pure DL”
    • 9.
      • Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree Programs
      • http://www.neasc.org/cihe/best_practices_electronically_offered_degree.htm
      Components – NEASC Best Practices
    • 10. Overview of the Best Practices
      • Developed by the eight regional accrediting commissions
      • Five components
        • Numbered paragraphs describing elements essential to distance education within this component
          • Protocols in the form of questions
      • NEASC guideline for the review of DL programs: at least 50% of the courses must be online
    • 11. Five Components
      • Institutional Context and Mission
      • Curriculum and Instruction
      • Faculty Support
      • Student Support
      • Evaluation and Assessment
    • 12.
      • Division of Graduate Professional Studies
      Cycle of Improvement
    • 13. Cycle of Improvement Initiatives
      • Continuous Improvement
      • 5e. The institution conducts a program of continual self-evaluation directed toward program improvement.
      • Series of Process Improvement Initiatives from 2004 – present
      • Impact on-ground and online courses and instructors
      NEASC Best Practices: Component Number (5) and Paragraph (e)
    • 14. Applying the Best Practices
      • Not a linear progression
      • Used primarily to confirm that we were on track in some areas, and to identify gaps in others
    • 15. Cycle of Improvement Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 16. Walking through the Cycle
      • Define what skills we want our graduates to be able to demonstrate upon completion of the program
      Program Outcomes 1a. In its content, purposes, and organization, the program is consistent with the institution’s role and mission.  Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 17. Walking through the Cycle
      • Course Outcomes
      • 2a. The institution assures that each program of study results in collegiate level learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree awarded by the institution.
      • Define what skills we want our students to be able to demonstrate upon completion of the course
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 18. Walking through the Cycle
      • Syllabus Template
      • 1e. Assure that electronically offered courses meet institution-wide standards, to provide consistent quality and to provide a coherent framework for students who may enroll in both electronically offered and traditional on-campus courses.
      • Enable instructors to consistently communicate course and weekly outcomes, assessments, policies, and procedures
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 19. Walking through the Cycle
      • Weekly Outcomes
      • 2a. The institution assures that each program of study results in collegiate level learning outcomes appropriate to the rigor and breadth of the degree awarded by the institution.
      • Define what skills we want our students to be able to demonstrate upon completion of each week of the course
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 20. Walking through the Cycle
      • Assessments
      • 5a. As a component of the institution’s overall assessment activities, documented assessment of student achievement is conducted in each course.
      • Define criteria for cognitive and behavioral assessments at the graduate level that align with course and weekly outcomes
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 21. Walking through the Cycle
      • Course Standards
      • 1e. Assure that electronically offered courses meet institution-wide standards, both to provide consistent quality and to provide a coherent framework for students who may enroll in both electronically offered and traditional on-campus courses.
      • Define campus and distance learning (DL) course standards
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 22. Walking through the Cycle
      • Feedback
      • 5d. Overall program effectiveness is determined by such measures as the extent to which student learning matches intended outcomes.
      • Evaluate if course and weekly outcomes align with course and weekly assessments, and make modifications as needed
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 23. Walking through the Cycle
      • Student Work
      • 5a. As a component of the institution’s overall assessment activities, documented assessment of student achievement is conducted in each course by comparing student performance to the intended learning outcomes. 
      • Compile tangible work products that represent the realization of course and weekly outcomes
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 24. Walking through the Cycle
      • Program Assessment
      • 5d. Overall program effectiveness is determined by such measures as the extent to which student learning matches intended outcomes, including for degree programs the objectives of the major.
      • Evaluate the degree to which our program assessments align with our program outcomes
      Feedback Course Outcomes Syllabus Template Weekly Outcomes Assessments Student Work Program Outcomes Program Assessment Course Standards
    • 25. Timeline of Initiatives Workshops on Course Outcomes Fall 2004 Spring 2005 Review and Improvement of Course Outcomes Defined Program Outcomes Summer 2004 Workshops on Syllabus Template Fall 2005 Fall 2005 Approved Campus and DL Course Standards Workshops on Assessments Fall 2005 – Spring 2006 Spring- Summer 2006 Compilation of Student Work Successful Reaccreditation Visit Fall 2006 Fall 2007 – Spring 2008 Workshops on Continuous Improvement Program Assessments Fall 2007 – Spring 2008
    • 26. Deliverables – Cycle of Improvement
      • Course standards, campus and DL
        • Standard syllabus template
        • Course site standards
      • Outcomes
        • School, Division, Program, Course, Week
      • Training materials
        • Campus workshops
        • Self-paced materials
      • Faculty Forum
    • 27.
      • Division of Graduate Professional Studies
      Distance Learning Infrastructure
    • 28. Online Degree Programs
    • 29. Distance Learning Infrastructure DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 30. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Support instructors in course design, construction, and delivery
      Instructor Services 3b. The institution provides an ongoing program of appropriate technical, design, and production support for participating faculty members. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 31. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Provide training to instructors on the DL pedagogy, including techniques to design and deliver an online course
      Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy 3d. The institution provides to those responsible for working directly with students the orientation and training to help them become proficient in the uses of the technologies for these purposes, including strategies for effective interaction. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 32. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Provide training to instructors on the LMS, including standards of use and best practices
      Instructor Training – LMS 3c. The institution provides to those responsible for program development the orientation and training to help them become proficient in the uses of the program’s technologies, including potential changes in course design and management. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 33. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Communicate University policies and procedures regarding accessibility, including compatibility of online content
      Accessibility 1j. The institution seeks to understand the legal and regulatory requirements of the jurisdictions in which it operates, e.g., requirements for service to those with disabilities. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 34. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Orient students to online learning, and to the LMS
      DL Student Orientation 4c. The institution recognizes that appropriate services must be available for students of electronically offered programs, using the working assumption that these students will not be physically present on campus. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 35. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Provide student services online, including admissions, registrations, advising, policies/procedures, library resources, technical support
      Online Student Services 4c. The institution recognizes that appropriate services must be available for students of electronically offered programs, using the working assumption that these students will not be physically present on campus. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 36. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Ensure that prospective students understand the nature of distance learning and expectations of online students
      Web Site Enhancements 4b. Prior to admitting a student to the program, the institution informs the prospective student concerning required technical access and competence, support services, independent learning expectations and challenges of online learning. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 37. Walking through the Infrastructure
      • Provide oversight and instructor feedback to ensure that courses are delivered according to defined quality standards
      DL Course Oversight and Improvement 1e. The oversight of electronically offered programs includes the capability to assure that courses meet standards to provide consistent quality. DL Student Orientation DL Course Delivery Standards LMS Standards and Template Instructor Services Online Student Services DL Course Oversight and Improvement Web Site Enhancements Instructor Training - LMS Instructor Training – DL Pedagogy Accessibility
    • 38. Deliverables – DL Infrastructure
      • Instructor training and on-going support
        • DL pedagogy course
        • LMS course and reference materials
      • Student training and on-going support
        • DL pedagogy orientation and self-assessment
        • LMS orientation materials
      • Range of online student services
      • Enhanced web site
      • DL oversight process
    • 39.
      • Brandeis University
      • Rabb School of Continuing Studies
      • Division of Graduate Professional Studies
      Conclusions and Next Steps
    • 40. Distance Learning Infrastructure
      • The distance courses grew naturally out of ground based courses with the same titles, and were offered to the same populations as ground-based courses.
    • 41. Conclusions
      • The NEASC Best Practices for Electronically Offered Degree and Certificate Programs
        • Provide self-assessment framework for continuous improvement
        • Define what the essential elements of quality distance programs are
        • Do not define how institutions can build and sustain these elements
    • 42. Conclusions
      • Launching distance learning degree programs
        • Careful planning
        • Coordination across many areas
        • Consistent with institution’s mission and standards
        • Consistent with ground-based courses to which they relate
      • An institution’s distance learning infrastructure must be continually assessed and improved
        • Programs grow
        • Technology changes
        • Methods for teaching and learning broaden
    • 43. Looking to the Future
      • GPS programs continue to grow
      • New instructors join our community
      • The community of distance learning students grows, requiring proactive support
      • Teaching and learning methods continually expand and evolve
      • GPS is migrating from WebCT Vista to Moodle
    • 44.
      • Brandeis University
      • Rabb School of Continuing Studies
      • Division of Graduate Professional Studies
      Thank You