By Cinda Holsombach-Ebner Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
The course design and development process (often referred to here as the “production process”) at ERAU-Worldwide aims to produce turnkey style courses to be taught by a highly-qualified pool of over 800 instructors. Given the high number of online courses and tremendous number of live sections running at any given time, maintaining quality was a significant concern. The model of faculty instructors each producing and delivering their own online course would make achieving consistency in design and delivery difficult. While this production model is common at many schools, it is known to be ineffective (Bates, 2000, Laird, 2004, Chao, Saj, & Hamilton, 2010), so at ERAU-Worldwide it was decided to centralize the process using a collaborative course production team, administered through the Instructional Design and Development (IDD) department. Over time, a process evolved that ensures healthy collaboration among production team members and meeting quality standards based on sound learning, teaching and instructional design theoretical foundations, both factors cited as key influences on the success of distance learning efforts (Chao, Saj, & Hamilton, 2010). Several ERAU-Worldwide courses have won industry awards, including Quality Matters and Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program, and the influence of the external course review and awards process on the establishment of course design and development quality standards will be addressed below in detail.