Ezzani's online course design now used as national benchmark for quality

ezzaniSenior Lecturer in the department of Teacher Education and Administration Miriam Ezzani constructed the first online course at UNT to be certified by Quality Matters (QM), a national benchmark for online course design. Now the course is being used as a sample of quality for future courses.

As the internet becomes increasingly integrated in society, many have seen online courses as a cost effective and flexible alternative to traditional classrooms. However, with that flexibility came the view that online courses inherently lessened, even cheapened the material and social interaction present in the classroom setting. Ezzani's course design addressed those perceived weaknesses with help from QM and the UNT Center for Learning Enhancement, Assessment, and Redesign (CLEAR).

The UNT course that helped set the standard, Philosophy and Principles in Multi-Cultural Education, incorporates more social interaction than most would expect from an online course. The curriculum emphasizes wiki projects, learning blogs and other projects that require interaction between students. Ezzani even conducts individual Skype meetings with each student at least twice during the course.

"Teachers no longer just sit in their classrooms working in silos, they're required to engage in professional learning communities where they are collaborating with other teachers," said Ezzani, explaining the significance of the interactivity.

Ezzani believes teachers need to be tech savvy. With tablets and other computers becoming commonplace in schools around the US, online courses present an opportunity for future teachers to become acclimated to systems that may have been absent from their own education.

When Jane Himmel from Quality Matters approached Ezzani about submitting her course for QM certification, she had no sample course to reference. Ezzani worked from a rubric and with CLEAR instructional consultant, Alese Smith, to meet certification standards. Her course is now used as the sample to demonstrate the principles and requirements of the QM program. 

Since the first course, Ezzani has constructed two additional courses that are aligned with QM standards.  Other UNT faculty are developing and reworking courses to reach similar standards.

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