Course Reviews at Geneseo

The CIT Instructional Design Team offers “Course Review” as a service to faculty who teach online. As with other terms new to Geneseo in the last few years, there is an air of mystery to what a Course Review entails. The review revolves around the Course Readiness Checklist rubric and is a process to support the continuous improvements to the quality and accessibility of courses at Geneseo.

You may have already sought help from CIT’s Instructional Design Team (colloquially referred to as our “Canvas Team”) for assistance. Perhaps you contacted Senior Instructional Support Specialist Alexis Clifton for aid remediating content in your course to make it more accessible for multiple learners, or one of our Instructional Designers, Joe Dolce or Becky Patt to create Pages in your Canvas course, address challenges within a Canvas Assignment, or a myriad of other issues. 

While our team of educational specialists is intended to assist you and your students navigate the challenges of digital learning they also serve another purpose that is often overlooked: to assist in the design and implementation of your course’s online presence. Our Instructional Designers are more than happy to meet with you 1:1 at any point in your course design process to help you meet the needs and expectations of our learners. We usually recommend a series of three meetings spaced over an amount of time our faculty may need to implement the options discussed in the most recent meeting, but we are always flexible in adjusting the schedule to your needs and desires, whether that be more or fewer meetings.

The method of course design actively embraced by Geneseo’s Instructional Design team is commonly known as backward design. This approach looks at your stated outcomes of a course, and then aligns everything that happens in that course to ensure that your outcomes are met.

Backward design can be thought of as asking a series of questions: 

  • What will students know or be able to do by the end of the course? 
  • What technology will students need to use to be successful in the course?
  • How will students demonstrate this knowledge or ability?
  • What can students do to prepare for this demonstration? 
  • What materials will students need to prepare for this demonstration? 

By answering these questions, a straight line is drawn from outcome, to classroom activities, to assessments and evaluation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What criteria does Geneseo use to evaluate online classes?

A: SUNY Geneseo has recently adopted the Course Readiness Checklist as a means by which to improve the quality of our online courses. The CRC is the barest minimum of a starting point of online course requirements distilled from the The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric.

Q: What is the basis for the Course Readiness Checklist (CRC)?

A: The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric (or, OSCQR, pronounced, “Oscar”) was created to, “help campuses ensure that their online courses are learner centered and well designed” by a team of SUNY staff and campus stakeholders. OSCQR helps, in part, to form the basis of standards by which Geneseo assesses online learning, and indeed directly informed the Geneseo Course Readiness Checklist our Instructional Designers employ when working with faculty.

Q: How is the Course Readiness Checklist used?

A: The Instructional Design Team uses the CRC as a guide in reviewing the design of your course. This helps the team work through the course primarily from the perspective of a student during a review. Designers will offer annotated feedback on CRC criteria as part of the course review process. Courses must meet the “essential” requirements, but the “best practices” components are something faculty should be striving for as well.

Q: What happens if a course doesn’t meet specific “best practice” criteria on the checklist?

A: Feedback on the CRC will guide the faculty member on how to meet the criterion in question. Remember that course design is an iterative process. We are always striving for betterment, and there will always be challenges to overcome. Keeping this in mind is important so that no one becomes overwhelmed by the process. Your Instructional Designers will always be happy to work with you to improve your course at any time.

Q: What happens if my course does meet all essential criteria on the course readiness checklist?

A: Then your course will be ready to teach and you should feel good about it. However, you should keep in mind that as you teach the course you will inevitably find new challenges that should be addressed before teaching the course again.

Q: How often should a course be reviewed? 

A: Whenever there’s been a change in course material, we recommend a new course review. Course material should be assessed, regularly, for currency.

Q: Who sees the results of a course review?

A: The course review process is a private conversation between a faculty member and the instructional design team. In some situations, other campus members may have access to some portions of the review process, such as department chairs or program administrators. In these cases, what information will be shared will be made clear to all parties before the process begins. If the course is undergoing review to meet a specific incentive, faculty administering the incentive will be made aware of the status of course reviews, but not their specific contents.

Q: How does the course review process evaluate the content of my course? 

A: The focus of a course review is on the design and delivery of its content, not the content itself. The Instructional Design team are not subject matter experts in your discipline, which lends them an ability to review a course with new eyes.

Q: What courses should be reviewed? 

A: The current focus is on online courses; however, your Instructional Design team is happy to review the material for any of your Canvas courses regardless of modality.

Q: Can I have just a portion of a course reviewed?

A: The instructional design team is happy to review any portion of your course. In these cases, the reviewers would request that you identify specific areas of concern to guide our review. Ultimately, the course review process is most beneficial when the course is complete.

Q: What if I disagree with the results of a course review? 

A: The course review is meant to be a starting place for conversation between you and your Instructional Designer. If there are areas of the annotated Course Readiness Checklist that you disagree with, please be sure to bring this up in conversation with your Designer.

Q: A colleague teaches the same course and had their course reviewed. Do I also have to have my course reviewed? 

A: Yes.

Q: I completed a review for one of my courses. What’s the value in having additional courses I teach reviewed? 

A: The way you interact with each of your courses, and subsets of learners, is unique. Accordingly, having additional courses reviewed provides you with the opportunity to receive feedback unique to those courses.

Q: Can I request a specific instructional designer to work with on my course review? 

A: While we do our best to accommodate individual requests, the Director of Educational Technology assigns course reviews based on the workload of the Instructional Design team.

Q: Will a course reviewer help me fix typos and grammatical errors in my course? 

A: Your Instructional Designer will point out any typos and grammatical errors noticed in your course, but be aware that they are not copy editors and should not be depended on as a replacement for mindful content crafting.

Q: How long does a course review take? 

A: It is important to remember, that reviews are done in the order they are requested, so time frames may fluctuate during busy parts of the year. Generally a course review will take 3-4 business days to complete. Allow a week from start to finish of the process, to include opportunities for consultation and conversation along the way.

Q: How far in advance of a new semester should I request a review? 

A:  As soon as possible. Your Instructional Designers can do the most good for you when they are brought into the course design process as early as possible; remember, the course review is one of the last steps when working with an Instructional Designer. Working with an Instructional Designer early will not only help you develop ideas you may not have considered, but also save you the possible frustration of having to make considerable revisions to a “nearly complete” course.

Here are some upcoming dates to keep in mind:

Intersession 2024
Courses begin: December 27
Review request due: December 8

Spring 2024
Courses begin: January 22
Review request due: January 5

Q: What should I do to prepare a course for review? 

A: Prepare your course as if it were ready to go live for students. You don’t need to publish the course but make sure it’s publish-ready before reaching out to request a review.

Q: How do I begin?

A: Email to get started!

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