Initiatives

The Office of Distance Education offers many professional development opportunities. We work to keep faculty informed of best practices for online/blended teaching and emerging e-learning technology tools. We offer a range of workshops through face-to-face and online formats, as well as individual consultation. Topics include:

  • Effective strategies for online, blended, and face-to-face course design, development and delivery
  • Techniques to facilitate multiple forms of online communication, manage online group projects, and promote interaction
  • Assessing online students and academic integrity issues
  • Effective use of digital innovation strategies to enhance your course
  • E-learning technology trends and integration

Quality Matters (QM)

With the rapid growth of online education at West Chester University, the Office of Distance Education looked to ensure that our online courses are built upon research-backed standards. Therefore, we partnered with Quality Matters (QM), a non-profit organization that specializes in standards for quality assurance for online course and program design. The Office of Distance Education staff and a number of faculty members have been trained on the QM rubric, standards, and course review process.

The QM rubric is broken down into the following eight General Standards:

Course Overview and Introduction
Learning Objectives
Assessment and Measurement
Instructional Materials
Learning Activities and Learner Interaction
Course Technology
Learner Support
Accessibility and Usability
Each of the General Standards are further broken down into Specific Review Standards. In total, there are 42 Specific Review Standards. A course meets QM certification if it meets the standards at an 85% level.

Faculty members from all five colleges at WCU have prepared their online courses for review with the assistance of the instructional design team. Once a course has been submitted to QM, it is reviewed by a peer review team which consists of a Team Chair, Subject Matter Expert, and External Reviewer. We have worked with peer review team members from all over the country. WCU faculty members have also been certified and are eligible to serve on a review team.

After obtaining QM certification, faculty members can display the QM Certification Mark on the syllabus and D2L course homepage. The mark informs our students that the course has clear expectations, meaningful content, and engaging activities.

The Office of Distance Education runs an initiative each academic year in which faculty members are compensated for preparing their courses for review and obtaining QM certification. If you’re interested in learning more, reach out to your assigned instructional designer.

e-Textbook

Through our eTextbook Initiative, faculty help combat the rising costs of textbooks by learning how to build their own high-quality, interactive electronic textbooks. These eTextbooks are then provided to WCU students for free, helping to lower the overall cost of their education while removing the financial barrier to obtaining these educational materials. Please see the initiative’s faculty information page for more about the application process, participation requirements, and stipends for completed eTextbooks.

Digital Learning Objects

A faculty cohort participates in a seven week Digital Learning Objects Instructional Video Initiative in February and March. This initiative provides a structured training sequence to assist faculty in applying multimedia design and universal design for learning principles as they create two, six minute or less instructional videos. The final videos will be presented at the Teaching with Technology Excellence Showcase in May. 

Active Learning Spaces

The Active Learning Space initiative aims to foster technology innovation and teaching effectiveness in active learning classroom spaces. This initiative offers three training sessions to prepare faculty on the implementation of active learning strategies and develop faculty competencies using active learning classroom technology tools. At the end of the initiative, faculty will create a lesson plan utilizing active learning techniques, classroom technologies and space for one class session. 

Scholar Center

Interested in conducting research related to distance education at West Chester University? Join the Distance Education Scholars Center. It is a hub and catalyst for distance education research at WCU aimed at bringing students, faculty, and other members of the community together through learning, scholarship and service. Contact Rui Li at

rli@wcupa.edu

to propose a research topic or join an existing research project. 

Network of Distance Educators (NODE)

A voluntary program that facilitates 30-minute conversations between pairs of WCU faculty members.  NODE helps faculty improve their connections across campus and enhances the sharing of successful ideas, teaching strategies, and productivity concepts. Participants "opt-in" to calls each week, so they participate as their schedules permit.  Conversations occur on Fridays through a simple video conference tool.  Any individual who teaches at West Chester University is eligible to participate.  Email Tom Pantazes at

tpantazes@wcupa.edu

if you wish to learn more or join the network.

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