When designing traditional courses and training programs there are usually a set of standards the course or training must meet in order to be credentialed or qualify for being offered. These standards can come from the state or from a nationally recognized organization. There are also many accepted and recognized best practices and models in the design and development of courses and training programs. So question becomes how does one evaluate blended learning courses for quality assurance? And what resources are available for determining the quality of your course?
Although the problem is relatively new and certainly has it’s own unique circumstances from the design perspective and the learner perspective, I do believe some basic course design and learner motivation theory still applies. Here are some areas a blended course should be evaluated for.
- Goals and objectives of the course are clear and well understood
- Assignments and content align to the course objectives
- There is a variety of formal and informal assessment opportunities for the student
- Content is presented using appropriate media
- Content is appropriate for learner audience
- Assignments and tasks are clearly explained with clear due dates
- Grading and assessment expectations are clear
However, when designing for a Blended Learning experience, I feel these variables need to be evaluated too.
- Do assignments and tasks cross over and integrate to the opposite environment(f2f to online and online to f2f)? Do they link the two environments?
- Are the face-to-face (f2f) meeting dates clear to the learner?
- Is the location of where to do tasks, assignments, assessments and where to submit them clear to the learner (online or f2f)?
- Do students have a variety of interaction opportunity with content, other students, and the instructor?
One of the unique things about Blended learning courses is that the model in which learning is blended varies. This can make it difficult to set a very specific set of course quality control measures. However, if you stick to basic best practices in the design of traditional, online, and blended courses you can head in a good direction for assuring quality.