When talking about online education, quality can be hard to define. This should come as no surprise, though. Institutions have been struggling for years to define quality in face-to-face courses.
Consider this dictionary definition of quality: The standard of something as measured against other things of a similar kind; the degree of excellence of something.
Institutions may attempt to measure the quality of online courses and programs in a variety of ways, including student and faculty satisfaction data, retention rates, student evaluations of teaching, student learning outcomes for a course, peer (instructor) evaluations of teaching, course design, student graduation or exit surveys, employer surveys, etc.
There is no question that institutions have been placing more emphasis on the quality of their online programs in the last five to ten years. Here are some thoughts in response to that new interest—principles that I’ve found to be important in maintaining quality in online courses.