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Assessing online courses—OSCQR rubric

August 9, 2023

George Rus

Assistant Dean for Online Education, University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of EAB.

Online courses have been on the rise for the last decade, and we have seen a large jump in course offerings during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. The College of Letters, Arts, and Sciences at the University of Colorado–Colorado Springs has seen a rapid increase in online courses offered over the past four years. The college offered 157 online courses in spring 2019, compared to 329 course offerings in spring 2023, which is a 109% increase in the number of courses.

Moreover, the college, and campus overall, are actively pursuing the marketing and promotion of existing online programs, as well as the creation of new programs. These expansions have not come without some challenges.

At the height of the pandemic, all faculty were forced to switch their course modalities to online, but, at that time, no course quality assurances were available before the courses were offered. Moreover, after the pandemic, most of those courses are still offered, without modifications. As such, there are large variations between course modalities, content, and structure.

The UCCS OSCQR process is a three-step process that incorporates a faculty self-review of the online course, collaboration with an FRC instructional designer, and a review by an additional UCCS reviewer. The rubric aims to achieve standards in the following six categories: course alignment, getting students started and overview, organization and representation, accessible course design, engagement and interaction, and assessment and feedback.

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Meeting the UCCS OSCQR standards results in a badge for the faculty member and a three-year UCCS QA certification for the course. Both newly developed and existing online courses can receive the certification by completing some or all the online badges.

Currently, several departments require online badges before teaching online courses, and a few departments have adopted the UCCS OSCQR rubric for their online courses. Additionally, new online programs are required to follow the rubric when developing their courses. In the future, we should require all new and existing online courses to follow the OSCQR rubric and offer incentives for redesigning existing courses to meet the rubric standards.

I would like to thank Jenna Carpel, David Attis, and Joseph Timanovsky at EAB for providing me with resources and ideas. Also, many thanks to Denise Brown, associate dean at the Christ College of Nursing and Health for her support and meaningful discussions. Lastly, I would like to thank Dean Lynn Vidler from UCCS for nominating and supporting me through the EAB Fellowship.

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