During the next few weeks professors of fully online courses will continue to receive letters outlining recommendations from the Spring, 2016 online course audit. We have had some questions about the audit process, so I thought it was a good idea to outline exactly what happens when your course is audited using the Friendly Audit process.
The Fall, 2015 course audit was conducted with external auditors. This spring’s audit was handled in-house by WSU employees. Both audits were conducted using auditors who hold Quality Matters credentials. Audits are now handled out of the Instructional Design and Technology (IDT) office, and the auditing process is professional and confidential.
When an auditor enters your course, the first thing he or she does is enroll as a professor in the course. This step gives the auditor full access to the course. Once the audit is over, the auditor un-enrolls, so you should never see an “extra” professor in any of your courses.
From this point, each audit unfolds in a standard way:
- Using the course menu on the left, the auditor works from top to bottom, opening up each area of the course. As the auditor moves through the course, they click on each link to make sure it is functional, launches each video to check for accurate captioning/transcripts, and clicks on all documents.
- The auditor also looks for evidence student/professor and student/student interaction by opening up discussion threads, blogs, etc.
- Finally, the auditor looks for open links to unused tool areas such as the “groups” link and extra tool availability in the “tools” area.
After two full audits, the auditors have been able to give WSU a good idea what sorts of issues come up most often. These include the following:
- Organizational issues that make it difficult to navigate the course.
- Accessibility issues such as problems with captioning/transcripts, issues that make the course more difficult for people using screen readers, etc.
The auditors often make the following recommendations:
- Consider organizing course material in week-based modules so students can find items easily.
- Consider adding a “Start Here” area with course documents and links to information students must have right away. This is a recommendation that comes from the Quality Matters rubric.
- Check links, add transcripts and/or captioning, and avoid common accessibility issues such as using color alone to communicate information.
- Consider adding a “WSU look-and-feel” through the use of campus images, school colors, etc. If you do not know how to add these elements to your course, please have a look at the look-and-feel videos on the faculty training page or contact IDT.
Because many online courses share some of the same issues, some audit forms will look similar to each other. Each course is audited individually, however. If you receive a course audit and you would like to see the “raw” audit form that was used to generate your audit letter, please contact the IDT office: IDT@wichita.edu.
To address the issues the auditors have found, IDT put together some specialized training and centralized this information into an index of links that all people who receive an audit letter have access to. If you would like to have a look at this training index, go here.