Distance learning has altered the landscape of higher education, and the rapid proliferation of online courses and programs present new challenges for both faculty and administrators. The literature suggests that faculty must have a wide range of technical and pedagogical skills to be successful online teachers (Betts, 2009; Koehler, Mishra, & Yahya, 2007; Puzziferro & Shelton, 2009). To ensure quality and consistency of online courses, many universities have adopted an industry-standard, quality assurance review framework. In this case, faculty members are required to attend a basic professional development seminar outlining the parts of the rubric and the submission and review process. The study attempts to answer the question: To what extent does the use of an industry-standard, quality assurance rubric for online course evaluation generate any noticeable transformation in the instructional practices of college faculty members? Using the theoretical lens of Transformative Learning Theory (Mezirow, 1991), a qualitative document analysis (Bowen, 2009) was used to examine the Quality Matters™ reviews of 32 online courses. Findings show a high degree of consistency within the course designs, solid alignment between learning outcomes, assignments, and assessments, and standard elements within the course presentations. Using an industry-standard rubric is a good first step for faculty development, but it is not sufficient to produce significant and transformational changes in online teaching practices. The authors suggest a stronger focus on professional development that requires systematic reflection on the design, development, and delivery processes as a way to transform instructional practice.
International Journal on E-Learning