When I first began teaching fully online courses about five years ago, I was lucky that I had some incredible colleagues that let me “borrow” activities, course organization, and other lived-and-learned lessons from their experiences teaching online. I also used our Teaching & Learning Innovations resources — I was part of the Summer 2014 Blended Learning Cohort and took our Online Teaching Preparation Program — I was, admittedly, fully prepared. And yet…
There is always more to learn.
Knowing that effective teaching, online or face-to-face, is a lifelong learning process, we decided to develop a Course Review process for online classes offered at CSUCI. I know that you may be thinking: “Course Review?! You want other people to judge and evaluate my online courses? What program are you in? English? How could you know about how to teach *insert your discipline here*?” (or maybe you’re thinking, “that sounds awesome! Where do I sign up?” hint: at the bottom of this post!). Luckily, Course Review has nothing to do with judging and evaluating your online course. Instead, it’s an opportunity for another set of eyes on how you set up and organize your online courses, a fresh person to pop in and let you know if the way your online class “runs” is accessible for students, and a professional development exercise where we can share resources with you that will help make your online teaching more humanized. As one of my fellow Course Reviewers, Lorna Gonzalez, put it, Course Review is “an opportunity for a faculty colleague with experience and training in teaching and evaluating online courses to give collegial and constructive feedback on your course(s). We don’t judge. We don’t critique. Our process is designed to couple feedback with step-by-step action items and links to support/resources designed to help along the way.”
Our course review team is made up of instructors and instructional designers who teach online. We each have gone through multiple course review trainings at both the CSU-level and on our own campus. We developed, ran pilots, and calibrated our reviewers using both the CSU’s Quality Learning and Teaching Rubric (this may look overwhelming at first, but we focus on a “core 24” from this list) and our own focus on student engagement and humanizing online learning. What this means is you can use Course Review for any step that you are on in your own teaching. Are you developing a course? Are you seeking new ideas? Do you want evidence of course quality for your RTP or personnel file? Then Course Review is for you. Maybe you’ve taught your course twenty times and are looking for ways to “shake it up” or maybe this is the first time a particular class is being offered online and you’d like someone to test it out. Whatever your needs, our Course Review aims to give you individualized feedback to support your goals and professional development.
I know it may seem strange to let another person into your Canvas course to see what you are up to, but we are all instructors just like you. We know, first-hand, the challenges and triumphs in online teaching. Also, you can pick any level of feedback that you want! We have three pathways all with varying feedback — solely written feedback, video conferencing plus written feedback, or one-on-one meetings — to fit your needs and how involved you would like us to be.
Really, my goal in this post is to show you that there are actual humans behind our Course Review process. That we are “real life” instructors that interact with students every day, who take risks (that sometimes succeed and sometimes fail), and who want to engage colleagues across disciplines about effective and innovative online teaching. Above all, I want you to know that we care about sharing and engaging with you in order to make all of our online teaching as effective as possible.
If I have convinced you to at least take a look, or, hopefully, partake in Course Review, please sign up.