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 1.7
General Standard 1 addresses the course overview and introduction.
Standard 1.7 addresses the inclusion of minimal technical skills that are expected of the learner, and that these skills are clearly stated in your course.
- Many times, it’s easy to make the assumption that all online learners are technically skilled computer users that don’t need cues from you regarding basic technical competencies that allow them to fully navigate an online learning environment. ‘After all,’ you might think, ‘they did sign up for an online course!’ While it’s safe to say that many of your students shouldn’t have any trouble with the basics, a growing number of online programs, particularly accelerated programs, have a high percentage of adult working students that may lack many of technical fundamentals possessed by their more technology savvy, millennial peers. With this in mind, QM stresses the importance of including technology basics for all student demographics, with varying levels of technical skill.
- Earlier, we addressed QM Standard 1.5 which primarily deals with technological requirements (the technologies themselves), as opposed to this standard, 1.7, which deals with technological skills (the minimal skillset needed to navigate modern technologies). Per QM, these skills can include things such as:
-Understanding the basics of your institution’s Learning Management System.
-Using Email and attachments.
-Creating and submitting commonly used word processing files and other commonly used files types.
-Copying and pasting digital information.
-Downloading and installing software, internet browsers and updates.
-Using spreadsheet programs, like Excel.
-Using presentation graphic programs, like PowerPoint.
Here’s a few takeaways for making sure that minimal technical skills are properly addressed in your course:
Create a Checklist: The list above includes broad, common suggestions, but your course might require something more thorough. For instance, some courses in mathematics might require that students use more advanced calculation programs with a steep learning curve. Other research heavy courses might necessitate using research/library tools that the student hasn’t encountered yet. When you’re looking over your course work load, just remember not to overlook anything, including those technologies you may assume students should have mastery over.
Inform Early: As with most of the standards within QM General Standard 1, you’ll want to include this information in an easily accessible place that students will find as they first encounter your course content. Along with QM, we recommend creating ‘Start Here’ page, a comprehensive learning module, or an area in your syllabus that specifically addresses all of the standards encompassed in General Standard 1. Although it may seem redundant, it’s important for students to encounter this information as early as possible!
Save and Recycle– Chances are, this won’t be the last time you’ll use the list you compiled. It’s likely that the list of technical skills you create in your current online course will have overlap with other future, or concurrent courses. Keep the list tucked away on your computer so you can reuse and tweak for future use.
AP Guidance: Never assume that all of your students are on the same technological playing field. Instead, think of the most inexperienced online user and use this as the normative standard when creating lists and resources related to technical skills!
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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