It’s Quality Matters Day! Each week, we highlight a Quality Matters standard and review its importance in an online course and how we evaluate this standard.
Today, we are reviewing Quality Matters Standards 1.4
General Standard 1 addresses the course overview and introduction.
Standard 1.4 addresses the importance of including “course and/or institutional policies with which the learners are expected to comply are clearly stated” in your course, along with links to reinforce those policies.
- Let’s be honest, it’s easy to overlook policy placement during the course design process. This can happen for a variety of reasons, but typically, dry, space-consuming blocks of text tend to fall off the radar when instructors assume that these policies are something the student should already know, or at least have been encountered at some point during their course work. You may find yourself wondering if it’s necessary to include a ‘student conduct’ policy in your syllabus, yet again, for adult learners in an online, graduate-level course. “After all,” you think, “I’ve never had an issue with this before.” In short, the answer is yes. The two most important things to remember when debating with yourself about policy placement are: 1) they help set student expectations and provide them with information they need in order to be successful in the course, and 2) they protect you, the instructor, and your institution from contentious situations where a student end up feeling like they weren’t adequately informed to make important decisions in the course.
- Although different institutions and instructors will inevitably prioritize different policies, QM recommends considering categories such as: “student conduct, academic integrity, late submission of assignments, the grade of “Incomplete,” withdrawal without penalty, confidentiality in the classroom, student grievances, electronic communication, etc.,” when constructing your course introduction. Note, that QM does not evaluate the substance of your policies, but reviewers will be interested to see if they are there, and how easy and early on students encounter them in the course. Here’s a few tips to remember as you pick policies for this semester:
- Categorize your priorities at the ‘institutional,’ ‘departmental,’ and/or ‘course’ level, so students can gain context as to how each applies to them.
- Prioritize your course level policies. Think of all the policies personally important to you so you don’t unintentionally leave anything off your list.
- Make sure all the policies you do include are up-to-date and applicable. Including defunct or dated policies can backfire!
- Provide links when possible. That way when policies change at say, the institutional level, you don’t have to include those changes yourself, you simply link out to them
- Combine all the policies you deem important and place them in one, centralized location where students will encounter them early on, such as a ‘Start Here’ page, or your course syllabus.
- Check with your department chair, or another knowledgeable colleague to ensure that you’ve included all the policies required by your department.
AP Guidance: Don’t get yourself into a jam by skipping over policy placement. Remember QM Standard 1.4, and carefully consider course/institutional policies early on in the course development process!
Click here to access Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace. The Quality Matters eLearning Marketplace is a free, searchable database built to serve the broad QM community with an easy-to-use eLearning product/service directory organized within the 8 general standards of the rubric as well as by user and product categories.
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