The AP Prototype: Simplifying High-Quality Course Design
The quality of student learning largely depends on the quality of the learning environment. “That’s why Academic Partnerships provides each partner with a course prototype,” says Robin Bartoletti, Director of Academic Quality and Learning Communities at Academic Partnerships (AP) and certified Quality Matters (QM) Master Reviewer.
During program development with its partner universities, the Academic Services team develops a prototype for instructors of the same program to use as a standard framework when designing courses. “The prototype provides the consistency each program needs in order to offer quality courses that promote student success”, says Bartoletti. “It also helps instructors ensure the course design facilitates the learning process through effective industry practices.”
Bartoletti shares more with us about the benefits of the prototype:
What exactly is a course prototype, and what is its purpose?
A prototype is a customizable, user friendly map that provides instructors with a framework for organizing learning activities and instructional content throughout a course.
One factor that ensures a quality learning experience for students is to have a certain level of standardization in design among courses in a program—the prototype offers this kind of standardization to ensure that all courses in a program have a common look and feel. Additionally, each prototype provides tips and examples that show faculty how to incorporate effective industry practices, specifically Quality Matters standards, throughout their course to help facilitate student learning.
How do instructors and students benefit from prototypes?
A prototype simplifies the course development process. It allows instructors to spend less time offering navigational and housekeeping questions and more time teaching and interacting with students. Students benefit because of the prototype’s standardized structure—they feel comfortable knowing what to expect in courses from the same program and where they can access course content and features. A prototype will decrease the amount of time and effort students must use to learn the course structure and navigation and increase the amount of time spent learning the course material.
As a Quality Matters Master Reviewer, how do you see the prototype aligning with the QM Standards?
The major premise of the QM standards is to ensure alignment throughout the course so that every course component promotes students’ mastery of the learning objectives. While attending the 2012 Quality Matters conference, I watched several presenters explain how modular design (or “prototype”) helps promote course alignment. One presenter referred to modular design as an “instructional package” providing “quality out of the gate” (Jones & Thackaberry). This is exactly what the AP prototype provides—guidance for incorporating QM standards consistently throughout a course, allowing our partners to think about alignment as a driving force for choosing and placing content in each course. The sections of the AP prototype have built-in areas for inserting information in text or media format that will meet the Quality Matters essential standards, so instructors can ensure the course design facilitates effective learning processes.
How are prototypes developed and delivered to AP partners?
During focus meetings with university faculty and staff, our Academic Services team will discuss preferred colors, images, and layout. The prototype is then developed to meet program and course needs. The Academic Services team works with the partner to find the best delivery method, whether through a zipped file containing prototype components or uploading the prototype directly to the partner’s Learning Management System.
Interested in previewing a sample course prototype? Log in here using the following username and password:
- Username: AP_Guest
- Password: AP_Guest
|Share Your Experiences: Does your course design align with effective industry practices? If so, how have you seen your students benefit? Share with us using the comments box below.|
Jones & Thackaberry. Preparing for Success with Innovative Templates and Tools. Tucson, AZ. Quality Matters 4th Annual Conference, October 2-6, 2012.