Exploring the OSCQR Course Design Rubric

In my work as an education consultant and instructional designer, I often collaborate with faculty and departments with course design rubrics. Previously in this blog I did a series of posts reviewing course design rubrics. My work has shown that rubrics are only useful to an institution if they address the particular challenges and culture of that particular institution. This makes open licensing on course evaluation rubrics critical. We need to be able to edit, adapt, and revise to address the needs of the specific population.

The OSCQR rubric has been around for a few years now, but the real news for myself is how they are implementing it. There are a number of rubrics have come out over the years, and I have reviewed or featured many of them in this blog. The exciting thing about this rubric is the system-wide effort to support it with an active community of educators and staff, funding for professional development, and basically a state-wide plan. Their site describes the rubric as “customizable” and “flexible.” This is critical for effective course review (or course design) rubrics. As I said before, they need to be adaptable to address the needs of the specific community of faculty and students. Each campus has its unique population, culture, and needs: adopting or implementing a rubric is a way to get people together to talk about solving specific issues. There is no one rubric to rule them all.

I attended a webinar from SUNY on the OSCQR rubric, the recording is linked below. The presenters were Alexandra Pickett, the Director of Open SUNY Online Teaching, and Erin Maney, the manager of Communications and Community Engagement.

The rubric covers six areas that are broken up into 50 separate standards:

  1. Course over-view and information
  2. Course technology and tools
  3. Design and layout
  4. Content and activities
  5. Interaction
  6. Assessment and feedback

Each one of the six areas can be examined in detail on the website:
Example menu from OSCQR site

When the user clicks on the standard, it leads to a page that has a description of the standard, a video, tips for implementing the standard, and, importantly, links to the research behind the standard. Each page has a separate section that read:

  • Review these explanations (which includes a video)
  • References to the research
  • Refresh your course with these ideas (how to implement the criteria)
  • Explore related resources
  • Share what you know (an opportunity to comment in a discussion or share examples from your course

This is far from the idea of a rubric as a generic checklist.

There are a number of trainings available for faculty on how to use the rubric and engage in the community built around the rubric. Each training also has a digital badge associated with it:

OSCQR badge examplesWhat problems does this rubric solve?
It is essential that a rubric for course design is tied to the community that is going to use it. That takes patience and work. If people do not do the work then you have nothing but a set of standards delivered from the top down that no one is going to use, or worse, just tick off some training boxes and then move on to what they were doing before. The OSCQR website basically provides a pattern for doing this right.

I also like that the rubric is flexible, customizable, backed by research, and includes accessibility criteria.

It is a rubric that addresses data privacy concerns. Student privacy and control over data is a big issue right now and this rubric is a starting point, but it could go deeper into the issue.

How could this grow?
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
This is one of the best rubrics out there for course design I have seen. The only thing missing is the diversity, equity, and inclusion piece. There are a lot of great DEI rubrics for evaluating course materials and classes out there: it would be great to see that here. In the webinar I attended one of the presenters said that it used to be included, but it disappeared at one point. Now would be a great time bring that back!

As with all of these rubrics, I would love to see studies that look at the effect of revised courses on student success and retention.

At the end of the day…
I would strongly recommend anyone interested in course design rubrics to look at the OSCQR program closely as an example of how to expertly integrate campus community, professional development, and course design quality. The meetings I attended and the materials I read all reflect a deep connection to the colleges, respect for teaching and learning, and collegiality: all essential components of a successful implementation of course design rubrics.

Additional resources
Again, what this rubric does is provide a discussion point in a greater community. That is evidenced by all of the support materials around it such as:

  1. Resources from OSCQR page
  2. Latest OSCQR webinar
  3. OSCQR User group

Postscript: Towards a Meta-Rubric of Rubrics
Much like the rubrics used to evaluate software – I have been thinking about a meta-rubric for reviewing online course assessment rubrics. My example includes criteria that are common in the education technology world: ease of use, cost, and validity of scoring. And then I have included criteria that would be useful for a few of the community colleges that I have worked for, as well as some of my own values: openness and creating community. My example rubric is meant to start a conversation about what is important for your institution.

This is my “meta-rubric” example. Please feel free to copy, share, or comment below.

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