bestpracticesThere are a number of best practices sources both specifically for eLearning and for traditional face-to-face learning. In this session we took a look at some and tried to draw some lessons from them.

1. After reviewing the Quality Matters Checklist, what are three best practices you can extract. List each one and explain its significance and importance. Be sure to give an example of how using this idea would make either delivery or assessment better in a specific eLearning context.

Central New Mexico Community College has a comprehensive Quality Matters program. Their documents were useful in helping me understand how to apply the QM practices. (Central New Mexico)

1. Course Overview and Introduction
1.2 Learners are introduced to the purpose and structure of the course.

  • A comprehensive overview is essential to help students understand the purpose of the course and how the learning process is structured and carried out. This includes course schedule, syllabus, delivery modalities, modes of communication, types of learning activities, and assessment details.

2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
2.3 All learning objectives or competencies are stated clearly and written from the learner’s perspective.

  • It’s important that the learning objectives be written in a way that allows students, including non-native speakers, to easily grasp their meaning and the learning outcomes expected.

5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
5.2 Learning activities provide opportunities for interaction that support active learning.

  • Activities should encourage students’ engagement during learning through different types of interaction. Types of interaction can include student-instructor, student-content, and student-student. Active learning implies guiding students to increasing levels of responsibility for their own learning.

2. After reviewing the readings (and other sources that you locate on your own) what are some ideas that you can take from the work of Chickering and Gamson? How well do their suggestions map to online education in general? How well do they map to the students and/or content you might teach or develop for?

According to Chickering and Gamson, the seven good practices in undergraduate education are:

1. Encourage contact between students and faculty
2. Develop reciprocity and cooperation among students
3. Encourage active learning
4. Give prompt feedback
5. Emphasize time on task
6. Communicate high expectations
7. Respect diverse talents and ways of learning. (Chickering)

I agree with Oliver Dreon that “the principles translate well to the online classroom and can help to provide guidance for those of us designing courses to be taught online.” (Dreon) In both the ETEC course I’m taking this quarter I see every one of the seven practices being applied. I’m sure that’s not just coincidence. It can be done.

In my own hybrid library skills course I can and do encourage contact (1) by not only having students work in groups when they’re in the lab but creating a discussion board with weekly questions. This also develops reciprocity and cooperation (2) among the students. Active learning is encouraged (3) though every online library/research skills exercise. The students must use the whole gamut of online databases to find information. My personal practice is to give prompt feedback (4) via our course management system. I strive for a one week turn-around and I try my best to stick to it. If I can’t, I communicate this delay. Comments are posted in the Assignment module and grades are posted in the Gradebook promptly. By posting a calendar, syllabus, and regular announcements in the CMS, and sending emails regularly, time on task is emphasized (5) and expectations are communicated (6). I provide PDF, Word, PowerPoint, and video formats for each lesson. In addition, because so many of the Cerritos College students lack adequate technology I accept their work in paper, via email, or via the CMS. In this way I try to respect diverse talents and ways of learning. (7)

As you can see, the seven practices are very easy to apply in an online or hybrid library skills course. Without knowing it, I have been adhering to Chickering and Gamson’s Best practices. But now I know what I’m doing makes sense! 🙂 From this point on I’ll be much more cognizant of the need to keep these practices in mind and share them with the students.

3. According to the text, what are Objectives, Outcomes and Competencies. Provide an example of each.

Objectives: What students will learn, generally at the end of a unit of study.
Outcomes: What students will know or do, generally at the end of a course.
Competencies: How students demonstrate knowledge of skill acquisition, generally at the end of a program of study. (Palloff)

I used my library instruction program to provide a few examples of each:

Objective of a Lesson
• By the end of Lesson Three, the student will be able to search the online catalog for a book.
• By the end of Lesson Five, the student will be able to find an article in an online database.

Outcomes of a Course
By the end of LIBR100 the student will:

• Master the theoretical and practical skills necessary to use an online catalog
• Understand the significance and use of periodical literature and periodical indexes (print and electronic) in the research process
• Identify basic and discipline-specific reference sources available in most medium to large libraries

Competencies of the Library Instruction Program
By the end of this program, the student will be information competent and be able to:

• Find, evaluate, use, and communicate information in all its various formats.
• State a research question, problem or issue
• Determine the information requirements for the research question, problem, or issue
• Locate and retrieve relevant information

4. List the six levels in Bloom’s taxonomy. Now list one eLearning task, question or assignment for each level.

As in the original 1956 Bloom’s taxonomy, there are six levels in the revised Bloom’s. Using this chart that organizes those levels into 19 cognitive processes from the most basic to the most complex helped me find the right action verbs to create eLearning tasks for library skills. (Munzenmaier)


  • Remembering: Identify and describe three data bases where you will find information on your topic.
  • Understanding: Using the library databases, locate one article from a popular journal and one from a scholarly journal. Summarize and compare these two articles.
  • Applying: Use a simple screen capture to produce a video illustrating your search strategy in a database.
  • Analyzing: Compare and contrast the different types of sources available in the Opposing Viewpoints in Context database.
  • Evaluating: Evaluate a website on your topic using the criteria listed in the Library Research Guide Evaluating Websites
  • Creating: Create an online research guide for your topic that will be published and available for others to use to conduct research in that topic.

5. According to the text, what is “learner focused teaching”? How does this concept relate to the work of Chickering and Gamson? Provide some ideas for providing “learner focused teaching” in an eLearning setting and give at lest one example.

As the term implies, it is the practice of making the learner the central focus in class. Palloff and Pratt point to several researchers who discuss the benefits of this approach. They state that according to Huba and Freed (2000) in a student-centered approach, the students themselves actually construct their own knowledge while the instructor’s role is to facilitate the process through inquiry, communication, critical thinking and problem solving. The idea is to meld teaching and learning through the use of shared activities. Student involvement and input is key, even at the assessment level. All these notions are in line with Chickering and Gamson’s seven good practices.

In my library skills class I have students work in groups to retrieve information from a variety of sources, each group working on a different research problem. After determining which source to use, how to use it, and then locating the information, each group creates a slideshow or video and presents their findings to the class. In this way each group teaches their classmates about a particular source, how to use it, and the research process they used to find the information. The learners are the teachers.

6. Explain how the readings this week (and your own research) connects with the Blackboard discussion.

As in the past, the reading and the discussion were closely aligned. The discussion questions made us think about each concept that was introduced – Best Practices, Bloom’s Taxonomy, and Quality Matters. By further researching and describing these concepts I felt I was really learning them. By asking for examples of how we’d use them in our own classroom I was made to really think about how best to incorporate them into my one-shot library orientations and library skills courses/lessons. Theory put into practice.

7. Quote your best entry from this week’s Blackboard discussion. Explain why you chose it and what it demonstrates about your understanding, learning process etc.

I think the following two posts regarding Chickering and Gamson’s principle “respecting diverse talents& ways of learning” might have seemed sacrilegious given the context, but I really needed to know how others felt. I received some good responses and I began to see the fine line between too much and not enough online social interaction in eLearning.

1. There seems to be a big emphasis on interaction among students in the two online courses I’m enrolled in now. Is it because these are ETEC courses and we’re getting immersed in the technology? I’m pretty savvy, technologically, but I find it hard to keep track of all the conversations given the size of the class, the complexity of the questions, and the length of the posts. The requirement for X number of posts seems somewhat forced to me. In a F2F classroom do any of you have a requirement to speak X number of times? How is setting a conversation minimum for all students respecting diverse talents & ways of learning? Just wondering…

2. Thanks for your response Rachel. I agree with Jadud that “Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education are a good starting point regarding fundamental principles of good education”. These were new concepts to me, but even though I’m not a classroom teacher I can see how most of these principles are important in both F2F and online courses. But I do agree with the blogger you quoted as well! 🙂 While I know it’s important to interact, the current technology, such as threaded discussions and multiple blogs, make online interaction within The Community much more cumbersome than F2F.

8. Identify the student you think was the most important participant in the Blackboard discussion. Explain why and provide at least one quote from that student’s contributions to the Blackboard discussion.

Daniel provided expertly researched and thoughtful, well written discussion board and blog posts. He took the time to respond to my post on Bloom’s and his post lead me to some very useful information.

  • Daniel’s response to my post:
    Hi Lorraine, after reading your posting regarding you looking for specific tasks I was thinking of the cite that a few of us had mentioned and that is derived based upon the new Digital Taxonomy. The items and the additional resources that are contained in the links found on the cite at educational origami as well as the texts and concepts for 21st century literacy are something that may assist you. As I stated in another posting I had attended a conference for ACTE and at that conference came across the keynote speakers presentationn on the 21st century literacy project and the ideas of world citizenship and what the millenial generation will be expected to be ale to do to be successful. I feel that these resources and the series of text that explain them is quite worth while. Hope this assists you in your trying to help your students!

9. Reflect on what you have learned this week. What have you learned that has the potential to inform or influence you or your practice of online learning going forward? Explain why.

I honestly got a lot of good ideas on best practices from the Newberry lecture. I need to keep I mind the ambiguity factor in online courses. I will keep in mind his suggestion to give very procedural directions, use templates to structure output, and provide examples. I also like the idea of sending more emails so that students feel more comfortable communicating. It is so much easier to just hit the reply button after someone initiate a conversations. I know it worked for me when I get the personal emails from Professor Newberry. But the main thing I realized is that best practices, quality, and Blooms’ fundamental ideas regarding the foundations that are essential in education are applicable not only in F2F courses but in eLearning as well.


Chickering, Arthur W. and Zelda F. Gamson, Zelda F.(1987). Seven principles for good practice in undergraduate education. The Center for Teaching and Learning, Division of Academic Affairs, UNC Charlotte. Retrieved from

Dreon, Oliver. (2013). Applying the seven principles for good practice to the online classroom. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from

Munzenmaier, Cecelia and Rubin, Nancy. (2013) Bloom’s taxonomy: what’s old is new again. Perspectives. Santa Rosa: The Learning Guild. Retrieved from

Newberry, Brian. (2014). Best practices. Lecture Notes.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2009). Assessing the online learner: Resources and strategies for faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Other Discussion Topics This Week







Bloom’s Taxonomy

Your chart indicating ways Bloom can be used in eLearning was very helpful to me, Guillermina. Since I’m not a teacher, I have never taken an education class. Until now, that is. Therefore I never studied Bloom’s taxonomy. Everyone who posted on this topic did an excellent job and I feel pretty comfortable with the theory. Also, I found a very informative article in Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia.

From Psychology of Classroom Learning: An Encyclopedia I learned:

The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives: Handbook I, The Cognitive Domain (Bloom, 1956) is a framework intended to classify any curriculum objective in terms of its explicit or implicit intellectual skills and abilities. Curriculum objectives describe the intended outcomes of instruction—its goals.

Its six categories—Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation—were tested with sets of actual objectives to assure inclusiveness. The distinctions between categories were intended to reflect those that teachers make in curriculum development and teaching. Although each category was also broken into subcategories, most applications of the framework involved mainly the major categories.

Intended to be logically internally consistent, the underlying ordering dimensions were those of simple to complex and concrete to abstract. Because each category assumed mastery of the previous ones, the framework formed a cumulative hierarchy.

Advances in cognitive psychology suggested a need for revision. In 1995 Krathwohl and Anderson formed a committee composed of P. W. Airasian, K. A. Cruikshank, R. E. Mayer, P. R. Pintrich, J. Raths, and M. C. Wittrock. Their revision was Anderson and Krathwohl (Eds.) (2001). The revision made 12 major changes that fall in three categories, changes in emphasis, terminology, and structure.

Changes in Emphasis. 
First, the primary audience is elementary and secondary teachers. Second, instead of providing many sample test items, the revision emphasizes the alignment of curriculum, instruction, and assessment. Third, rather than providing models, the sample assessment tasks illustrate and clarify the category’s meaning. Finally, subcategories are used to define the major categories.

Changes in Terminology. 
First, the nouns forming the categories on the cognitive process dimension were rewritten as verbs. Second, the term Knowledge became Remember, but remained the least complex cognitive process. Third, Comprehension and Synthesis were renamed Understand and Create. Finally, the subcategories were completely renamed, reorganized, and were written as verbs.

Changes in Structure. 
The grammatical structure of educational objectives is subject-verb-object. In numerous elementary classrooms one sees the letters TLW, standing for “The Learner Will,” written as a lead-in to objectives written on chalkboards or whiteboards. The subject of educational objectives is the student or the learner. The first structural change was to classify each objective in two dimensions according to the verb and object. Second, the verb—what is to be done with or to knowledge—became the cognitive process dimension with Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create categories. The object—what content is dealt with—became the Knowledge Dimension with Factual, Conceptual, Procedural, and Metacognitive categories. Third, the two dimensions became the basis for the Taxonomy Table described below. Fourth, the claim that the cognitive process dimension was a cumulative hierarchy was eliminated.

There’s a very useful side-by-side chart that shows the changes from the old to the revised Bloom’s here. I like the list of action verbs that signify each category.

Now I’m going to try to come up with a library activity that might work in my hybrid Library Research course!


Blooms Taxonomy. Center Grove Community School Organization. Retrieved from

Bloom’s Taxonomy. (2009). In E. M. Anderman & L. H. Anderman (Eds.), Psychology of Classroom Learning (Vol. 1, pp. 107-110). Detroit: Macmillan Reference USA. Retrieved from

Quality Matters

What is quality matters and how does it apply to online classes?

According to the Quality Matters website, QM is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its scalable, peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning.  The tools and rubrics can be used by institutions to supplement their quality assurance efforts and improve the quality and effectiveness of their distance learning programs.

What are some of the checkpoints in the Quality Matters rubric that seem most important?

There are eight standards or checkpoints:

  1. The overall design of the course is made clear to the student at the beginning of the course.
  2. Learning objectives are measurable and are clearly stated.
  3. Assessment strategies are designed to evaluate student progress by reference to stated learning objectives, to measure the effectiveness of student learning, and to be integral to the learning process.
  4. Instructional materials are authoritative, up-to-date, and appropriately chosen for the level of the course.
  5. Forms of interaction incorporated in the course motivate students and promote learning.
  6. Course navigation features and the technology employed in the course foster student engagement and ensure access to instructional materials and resources.
  7. The course facilitates student access to institutional services essential to student success.
  8. The course demonstrates a commitment to accessibility for all students.
  9. Local compliance standards.

I think all of these quality features are important in an online class. I particularly like #7 because the facilities that are essential to student success includes the library and it’s online resources.

Are there any that seem less significant to you? Why?

Not really. I think all of these standards can and should be addressed in online courses. They aren’t outlandish or unattainable and they are based on solid best practices. At Cerritos College a QM team is currently being established. The team will receive training to understand and apply the rubric and to review courses. Faculty who become QM reviewers will then work with online instructors to insure that their courses comply with the rubric checkpoints. They can help design, revise or improve current courses or set up new courses. This collegial, peer-to-peer process is not meant to be evaluative or judgmental. But it would offer constructive feedback and mentoring.

Would a Quality Matters check improve the quality of most online classes? Explain why and how or why not. 

It seems the whole point of QM is to improve the quality of online classes. It’s a collegial, faculty driven system that provides a set of standards based upon current literature, best practices, and national standards for course design. Simply using these standards as a framework to design, revise and/or improve online and hybrid courses doesn’t seem to difficult. QM is based on a model of continuous improvement and centered on student experience, so how can you lose by following the guidelines?


K-12 Secondary Rubric – 9 General Standards. (2103) The Quality Matters K-12 Program. Retrieved from

Quality Matters: A National Benchmark for Online Course Design. (2104) Retrieved from