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Georgian Court University (GCU) was among the countless institutions across the country that were tasked with bringing education online as the pandemic forced in-person classes to come to a halt. During this rapid shift, Dr. Kathleen Marino, the Director of Instructional Technology & Design at GCU, spent long hours assisting faculty as they moved their courses fully online and ensured students had access to all necessary resources. “Technology and connectivity have become important as we were pushed farther apart to teach, learn, work, and socialize at a distance,” says Marino. “The Instructional Technology and Design (IT&D) unit is responsible for training and supporting faculty and students. While the importance of having technology available for teaching and learning is essential, we must also take the time to step back, assess how we are doing, and consistently strive to provide the best well-rounded education. Technology development for faculty is on-going, not just to increase their technology skillset, but to also develop and design high-quality courses using specific industry standards that help promote student success.”

Course Evaluation and Quality Control
Prior to the pandemic, Marino was conducting course reviews to evaluate the design and quality of several classes and ensure objectives and standards were being met. “As we began navigating in a new environment during the pandemic, an online program was being developed in the School of Business & Digital Media for a master’s degree in Communications and Digital Marketing,” explains Marino. “The dean and her team developed specific requirements for every course in the degree program and requested that after the courses were developed according to the standards, the courses would go through a complete review for design and quality. However once COVID hit, the IT&D unit—which is a team of two—was just too busy to continue these course reviews in a sufficient manner. Just in time, I received an email from Edge promoting exactly what we needed: assistance with course evaluation and quality control.”

Edge’s Online Learning and Instructional Technology Acceleration (OLITA) program is designed to deliver instructional design services and provide online learning experts who assist with course development, transformation, and evaluation, and faculty development and training. “The objective was to have Edge review the courses that were planned to begin first using our requirements and a rubric for design and quality,” says Marino. “The Edge team is highly qualified and has been attentive to our needs, allowing a smooth and timely transition to using outside reviewers. An important aspect of the engagement was having Edge reviewers provide valuable feedback to the faculty members developing the courses, so the developers could make any adjustments to meet the review’s requirements and optimize the course content and design. Using the Edge team is wonderfully cost effective, because from a budgeting aspect, we did not need to hire a full-time staff member with a salary and benefits to conduct these assessments. Most importantly, Edge’s assistance allowed the IT&D unit to focus on assisting with audio-visual technology in the classroom in hyflex sessions for virtual learners, introduce new engaging technologies, and to continue providing much-needed training and support to faculty and students as they navigated a new world of distance learning.”

The Edge OLITA program can provide interim staffing to complement an institution’s existing team, where experienced practitioners help build new courses to meet student demand or redesign courses that optimize them for online learning. With a deep understanding of rubrics like Quality Matters™, Edge conducts thorough course evaluations and can make recommendations for improvement. “The Edge team’s rubric was very similar to our quality standards, and if any area didn’t match, they modified the section to sync with ours. Edge did exactly what we asked, and everything ran perfectly. We were able to keep moving an important initiative forward and certify the quality of our courses.”

 “The Edge team is highly qualified and has been attentive to our needs, allowing a smooth and timely transition to using outside reviewers. An important aspect of the engagement was having Edge reviewers provide valuable feedback to the faculty members developing the courses, so the developers could make any adjustments to meet the review’s requirements and optimize the course content and design. Using the Edge team is wonderfully cost effective, because from a budgeting aspect, we did not need to hire a full-time staff member with a salary and benefits to conduct these assessments. Most importantly, Edge’s assistance allowed the IT&D unit to focus on assisting with audio-visual technology in the classroom in hyflex sessions for virtual learners, introduce new engaging technologies, and to continue providing much-needed training and support to faculty and students as they navigated a new world of distance learning.”

— Dr. Kathleen Marino
Director of Instructional Technology & Design
Georgian Court University

Assessing Institutional Effectiveness
The Office of Institutional Assessment and Accreditation at GCU oversees the University’s accreditation processes and procedures, collaborates with the provost for the development of student learning, and conducts surveys of faculty, staff, and students to gather important feedback. “Recent data related to remote learning (pandemic response) was shared with the office of IT&D to improve access to technology among students and faculty and help us assess the appropriate software and training that is needed to provide quality virtual teaching and learning,” says Marino. “GCU students rank their learning experiences as very good and excellent, and these ratings did not fluctuate, even with the change in modality of learning during the recent pandemic restrictions.”

GCU looks to continue to design and deliver innovative academic programs, enhance the student experience inside and outside the classroom, and expand the University’s footprint through various delivery formats at multiple locations. “Going forward, GCU will further refine their courses and offer additional training opportunities for faculty and students,” shares Marino. “Units are consistenly being evaluated, where we review previous goals and set goals for the next few years. We make necessary adjustments, consider our next steps, and determine ways the outcomes will be measured. We will also look to the office of Institutional Assessment and Accreditation for ways to capture and analyze data and other statistical information that can provide valuable insight. IT&D’s overarching goal is to continue to provide training, support, evaluations for quality, and insight for using technology in teaching and learning.”

“Technology is an integral aspect of the learning experience at GCU and our core objective for quality is everlasting,” Marino continues. “As technology continues to change, we will likely include additional goals and explore more interactive and engaging products. Web conferencing products like Zoom have become important to assisting in the creation of an instructional environment that is not isolated, but instead provides opportunities to learn in a virtual social context. With emerging technologies, training and support is imminent for the campus community and the IT&D team will continue to adapt as our ‘normal’ evolves. My focus is to consistently learn something new every day in all aspects of technology and collaboratively work with our faculty, staff, and students to ensure our digital assets for teaching and learning at GCU is of superior quality and creates positive, impactful student experiences.”

Ready to build a new online campus or accelerate your existing online learning capabilities? Learn more about Edge’s effective, affordable nonprofit services at njedge.net/solutions-overview/educational-technologies.