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Future Fit Traning

How to assess a course quality

Online courses have become widely used in different kinds of education, from traditional to corporate, formal, and continuous.

However, despite the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in more individuals and establishments opting for online courses, not all courses are high-quality. This is because different factors affect the quality of a course, and creating it is just one part of the job.

As an organisation, you must constantly evaluate your courses’ quality to ensure that the learners are walking away with all the information they need.

Plus, quality can be a little tricky to evaluate with online courses where participants can be located in different parts of the world.

However, there are multiple ways you can do the assessment. This article will discuss the importance of measuring course quality and how to do it, enabling you to have all the tools needed to take your course from good to great.

So, let’s get right it, shall we?

What is Course Quality?

Course quality is an important element needed to ensure that all courses are valuable to the learners and are influenced by any of the pre-structured standards set.

It is important to consider course quality when developing an online course.

But, quality can be very theoretical because different individuals can have varying opinions about one course. However, there are different approaches you can use that consider a combination of activities that add to the learning experience, like the learners’ needs, learning outcomes, data usage, and others.

Reasons for Measuring Course Quality

Improving and maintaining course quality involves constant improvement. There are multiple reasons why assessing course quality is important, and we have highlighted a number of them below:

  • It helps organisations continue to provide current and significant learning experiences to the students
  • Assessing the course quality can help you identify areas that you need to change
  • It enables course designers to improve the overall design of their courses
  • Course quality assessments allow establishments to update their courses using existing criteria or quality standards of their own

Additionally, there are limitations associated with assessing the quality of an online course, and some of them are outlined below:

  • Lack of a general authoritative body addressing minimum course standards
  • Some assessments do not fit all course scenarios
  • Quality assessments typically fail to focus on the learning experiences of the instructor
  • Some assessment techniques limit originality and modernism

Factors to consider when assessing a course

While we cannot overemphasise the importance of assessing a course’s quality, multiple factors need to be considered as they make the evaluation more holistic. So, let’s take a look at some of these factors.

  • Time

A good course assessment will consider the course over some time. How long are the different topics discussed? How much time is given for evaluation and discussion? Answering these questions will let you know whether changes need to be made to the courses or not.

  • Interactions

It is vital to consider the type and quality of interactions between instructors and learners and between the learners themselves to enable you to identify the course areas that need work.

  • Student Behaviours

How learners interact with the learning management system, resources, and course social platforms will enable you to understand your course’s good or bad. You also have to reflect on how the learners behave; the questions they ask in emails and forums. If the student behavioural artefacts are collected and analysed, you can get valuation information about your course quality.

  • Student Perception

You need to consider your students’ perceptions by evaluating them through one-on-one communication, course feedback, and questionnaires.

Other elements that you can consider include delivery, support, and content.

Ways to assess online course quality

There are different ways you can evaluate the quality of an online course – either formally or informally. Are the learners walking away with the information they need after taking the course? Are the courses causing more harm than good? Are you meeting your desired result? These are some questions you need to answer while assessing the quality of your course.

So, let’s take a look at some of the varying ways you can evaluate the quality of online courses.

  1. Using a Rubric

There are different online course quality evaluation rubrics that you can use to evaluate and improve your online courses. Some common examples include the Quality Matters rubric, OPEN SUNY Course Quality Review rubric, OLC Quality Scorecard, CHICO rubric, and Blackboard Exemplary Course Program rubric. These rubrics are a standard to ensure that courses are on par with industry and institutional standards. Plus, you don’t have to use a common one, as you can use any framework or tool developed by your organisation to ensure course quality.

There are different benefits of using course quality rubrics. They help establish standards that courses must meet to ensure they add value to the learners. These standards also make sure that the learning experience is consistent across the board. Additionally, rubrics enable establishments to identify specific areas within their courses that need improvement.

There are multiple ways to adopt a rubric, but first, you have to decide whether you will be creating your own standards or adopting the common ones. Then, you need to evaluate the existing standards to ensure that they are updated with the industry trends and your institution’s needs. Note that course quality evaluation is a continuous process that doesn’t end after course development.

  1. Use a student’s perspective to analyse the course

As mentioned earlier, the perspective of the learner is an important factor to consider when assessing the quality of a course, and it is one of the most challenging. This step requires you to look at your course from a student’s perspective – meaning that you need to engage with the course the same way a learner would.

When you think from a student’s perspective, you will be able to identify discrepancies that would’ve escaped your notice otherwise. As a learner, you need to ask yourself some questions. Are the courses providing value to the students? Are the courses engaging? Answering these questions will enable you to identify the parts of the course you need to improve on.

  1. Analyse the course feedbacks from surveys and questionnaires

Using questionnaires, surveys, or forums midway through or after the course to get feedback from the learners is a good way to assess the quality of your course. The type of questions you will ask will depend on the information you want to gather. The general outcome of these surveys is that you will be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of your online courses, and learners will have an active role in the quality assessment. This way, you will be able to improve on your weaknesses and provide value to your learners.

You can also give learners the opportunity to critique the course content and tell you what exactly they found valuable.

  1. Monitor learners’ interactions

Active learning will make students feel more connected and motivated to understand the course. Students motivated to learn will interact more with their peers and instructors on course-associated platforms and forums. Monitoring and analysing these interactions will enable you to understand whether the majority of your learners are involved with the course work or not. Besides, no interactions on these platforms might prove that students are not motivated to learn the course or they are unaware of how to use the platform.

  1. Assess if students are learning via assessments

Student assessments will provide you with real data that you can analyse to identify any trends in your course. These tests will demand that learners apply or show what they have learnt. For example, if a large percentage of the learners fail to apply what is taught in your course repeatedly, this shows that your course may be lacking in quality.

You will need to understand the root cause of the problem and modify it. Plus, large percentages of test failures do not say good things about your course value.

  1. Learning Management Systems Metrics

Learning Management Systems enables users to develop and deploy online courses, and most organisations make use of them. These systems also contain abundant data that will enable you to assess the quality of your course. For example, you will be able to know how your learners are progressing, their rate of progression, engagement level, and other valuable information. This way, you will be able to assess all aspects of your online course and improve on your weaknesses with ease.

  1. Gauge preferred outcomes

You need to observe learner performance as well as evaluate desired results as a way to assess the quality of your course. You can observe these performances through the learning management system. Also, by having the desired outcome, you can gauge whether your course is up to par or not easily. For example, suppose your desired outcome is to reduce employee susceptibility to phishing scams by 50%, and you do not scratch the surface of this percentage. In that case, this proves that your course content needs re-evaluation to ensure that value is added and desired results are met.

  1. Checking Reviews

Reviews are a goldmine of information, as both instructors and prospective learners can get information about the quality of the course. Instructors can find out what students are saying and whether there are areas in their course that needs work.

Besides, constantly checking your course reviews will enable you to stay on track with improving and maintaining the quality of your online courses.

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