By: Dr. Conrad Lotze, Senior VP and Associate Provost of Academic Affairs
Karen Vendouern-Srba, Associate VP, Academic and Instructional Technology
We are always looking for ways to enhance the APUS student experience, and one way to do this is to improve course quality. Toward that end, in late 2015 we created a committee charged with creating some standards for use in course design and revisions. These standards have assisted academics in reviewing, revising, and establishing guidelines for use in the creation and modification of our courses. The guidelines are not meant to be prescriptive, but to help provide best practices that will aid course authors as we work to continuously improve courses. It should be noted that articulating guidelines was but the first step in the process – we are now developing a series of exemplary courses in each school to serve as models or examples so that other faculty might emulate them.
The APUS Standards of Course Quality grew out of the desire to assess and enhance the curricular quality of APUS courses, and the recognized need for a uniform understanding of what quality looks like. The objective of this workshop was to develop a resource to aid those charged with developing, revising, and assessing courses within the APUS environment. This document is the first of two resources aimed at defining APUS course quality. Upon acceptance of this document, sample courses will be built and made available to all faculty to demonstrate the application of the principles described herein. This resource is limited to curricular quality.
While the committee understands that quality teaching and quality curriculum go hand-in-hand, this effort is focused on curricular quality and not the day-to-day teaching of the course. We attempted to limit our discussion to model sites, and only extended it to live sites in the instances where faculty are expected to add personalized content to the course. We completed this exercise on the assumption that the general structure of the APUS Learning Environment will remain unchanged in the near future (continuing to have announcements, forums, assignments, lessons, etc.), as will the general constraints within which we operate (electronic course materials, compliance with Sections 504/508, etc.).
For each tool in the classroom, we defined the reason that tool exists in APUS courses and then established best practices, limitations, and flexibilities. As participants of the workshop, we understand that these elements may change if the general structure of the APUS Learning Environment changes. It is the desire of this group to set forth recommendations that provide high quality course standards to sufficiently prepare APUS students for their future endeavors.