A QuARRy of Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) 

What is a Quarry? 

Typically, this refers to an open-pit mine from which rocks, sand, stone, or minerals are excavated because of their utility as building materials. Some materials are highly valued since they serve a purpose while also having aesthetic appeal. Marble supports some of the world’s most impressive structures, including the Taj Mahal, Pantheon, the Tower of Pisa, Pantheon, and Washington Monument. Michelangelo selected marble to sculpt David. And then there are seemingly less impressive materials like sand. 

Yet, as a granddaughter of a brick mason, I know sand is a fundamental construction material. My granddad could not have built brick walls, faced building decorative stone, or created block buildings without concrete and mortar. Both require sand. When I checked with ChatGPT I learned that sand is essential for plastering, layering stone and tile for flooring, constructing walkways and patios, in filtration and drainage systems, and in manufacturing glass and bricks. It is essential for backfilling and compaction to strengthen foundations to ensure structural integrity. What does any of this have to do with quality learning and teaching (QLT)? 

What is QLT?

The Quality Learning and Teaching (QLT) rubric is one of two quality assurance rubrics approved by the CSU to define criteria for developing a quality digital course. CSUCI has adopted the QLT rubric to guide informal self and/or peer review of the digital side of any course. QLT consists of nine sections and a total of 52 criteria. While all criteria are important, the Core 24 highlight those considered essential for quality digital learning. At CSUCI, since all students access their courses through Canvas, most courses include a digital environment, even those taught fully in person. So, the QLT rubric can provide guidance and examples for any course. 

What is QuARRy? 

QuARRy is the CSU’s Online Course Services (OCS) Quality Assurance Resource Repository. It is a digital quarry filled with peer-reviewed exemplars from educators’ courses throughout the CSU. These exemplars demonstrate one or more ways to meet selected QLT criteria. In fact, eight CSUCI faculty have exemplars from their courses featured in QuARRy. To see their work, explore the exemplars linked at the bottom of this page. 

Designing and developing the digital side of a course is much like a construction project, especially when selecting digital tools to deliver content, foster the social interaction that leads to learning, and assess student learning progress. We can overthink, overemphasize, or feel overwhelmed when selecting the “right tool” and then having the knowledge and skills to implement it. The CSU QuARRY site is filled with examples from instructors who have done this well and are willing to share their work, so you do not need to get mired in the potential overwhelm of a digital blank slate.

Robust tools like VoiceThread and PlayPosit support learning experiences that can engage students as both critical consumers and creative producers (Mackey & Jacobson, 2021). But, doing so requires technological, pedagogical, and content knowledge (TPaCK) (Mishra & Kohler, 2006). Seeing what these tools can do is like looking at the Taj Mahal. But taking a raw slab of marble and drawing David out, well, that’s another story. So, bring in the sand! 

Designing to Foster Learning

Remember, sand is needed to establish a firm foundation that can hold up the marble. Starting with the sand in course design means first establishing a firm foundation by figuring out what students need to learn and how you and students will know they have learned it. Digital tools make it “easier” for us as educators to engage students in directing their own learning by engaging them in multidimensional learning experiences that extend engagement from a transmission model where we manage the learning process (i.e., content selection and mode of assessment) and learner (i.e., needs and interests). Rather, digital tools foster models for emergence (learning as cognition and reflection) and acquisition (learning as self-directed) (Siemens, 2009). 

Yes, “easier” is in air quotes! Developing these types of learning models takes time and different skills: skills for you and skills for students. Which can feel like trying to run in quicksand. But wait! Sand is also essential for making walkable pathways and manufacturing other building materials. This is where partnering with a learning designer can help reduce the “grind” and expedite developing course engagement. Learning designers bring the technological knowledge (i.e., the skills) and pedagogical knowledge (i.e., ways a tool can be used for deep learning) to support instructors’ pedagogical knowledge (i.e., instructional approaches) and content knowledge (i.e., discipline expertise). Together, learning designers and instructors are the fundamental sand when embarking on a new digital course construction project; whether building from the ground up, or just renovating an old closet. 

Call for 2024 Learning Design Project Proposals  

Are you up for some construction work? Or looking for a small way to renovate a digital engagement? The TLi Learning Design team invites you to submit a proposal to complete a 2024 Learning Design Project with the support of a TLi partner, submit your project to QuARRy, and earn a $700 stipend. Proposals are due by March 15th. For full details and to apply, please visit the 2024 Learning Design Project Website. We look forward to partnering with all CSUCI faculty to develop a new foundation for student engagement. 

2023 CSUCI Faculty QuARRy Exemplars

Please explore projects completed by the 2023 Recipient:

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