Supporting Online Program Quality Through Online Enterprise-Level Standards

Supporting Online Program Quality Through Online Enterprise-Level Standards

Vickie Cook (University of Illinois at Springfield, USA) and Julie Uranis (University Professional Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), USA)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 27
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7844-4.ch010
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Enterprise-wide efforts to lead online program quality are critical in today's higher education environment. The authors of this chapter investigate tools available to leaders of higher education institutions which articulate the major components needed to successfully lead an online enterprise and measure success. Through the use of vetted tools such as the UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Online Leadership, Quality Matters Program Rubrics, and the Online Learning Consortium Scorecard for the Administration of Online Programs, institutional leaders can embrace systematic and consistent quality in online learning. Using the appropriate tool at the appropriate level of institutional activity will assist institutions with meeting national standards as described through the Interregional Guidelines for the Evaluation of Distance Education Programs (Online Learning) developed by the Council of Regional Accrediting Commissions (C-RAC).
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One of the characteristics of a distance learning leader is competency in strategic planning. Strategic planning is built on strategic thinking (Bates & Sangrà, 2011). Online learning continues to be a dynamic dimension of institutional enrollment strategies, yet online program strategies often focus on transactions between the student and the instructors, as noted in a recent Enrollment Management Report (Allen & Seaman, 2016; Hope, 2017). Of the ten key strategies suggested by Hope (2017), not one item addressed quality or institutional commitment. While this one enrollment management-focused example does not represent all of higher education, it is an artifact of a perspective in postsecondary education that does not prioritize the role quality assurance and institutional commitment have in growing rigorous and successful online programs. This perspective, one that does not address quality or institutional commitment in online operations, reinforces the long-held belief by many that online instruction lacks rigor and is mainly a ‘cash cow’ for institutions. Online education, when done well, achieves student outcomes with no significant difference from other course modalities (Russell, n.d.).

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