Content and quality go hand-in-hand with The University of New Mexico’s extensive online course catalogue. An awards ceremony on April 28 from 2-4 p.m. in the SUB Ballroom—sponsored by the UNM Center for Teaching & Learning, is honoring a new initiative by recognizing faculty who receive a UNM Online Best Practice Certification.

In 2012, The University of New Mexico Provost Chaouki Abdallah tasked the Online Course Advisory Council to establish online course standards, grounded in research based best practices—reflecting Higher Learning Commission and federal requirements for online distance teaching and learning.

The standards were intended to address quality course development, effective teaching and learning, outcomes assessment, and academic integrity. The Advisory Council worked directly with UNM Extended Learning to develop recommendations for the Provost Office’s to review and for approval from the UNM Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee.

The Advisory Council included experienced online faculty who had a leadership role or had received recognition for their online teaching. The Council also included a UNM Presidential Teaching Fellow and the chair of the Faculty Senate Teaching Enhancement Committee.

In collaboration with UNM Extended Learning and the Center for Teaching Excellence, the UNM Online Course Advisory Council invited UNM main campus faculty, who teach online courses, to apply to have their UNM online course certified as a UNM Online Best Practice Course. 

Twenty courses were reviewed during the Fall 2015 semester. An additional twenty-six courses have been reviewed for the Spring 2016 semester.

“We have had an excellent response to this initiative,” said Becky Adams, director of Extended Learning’s Faculty Services and Online Course Development.  “Our instructors have reported that it has been a great experience and helped them improve their courses.”

Faculty who successfully complete the certification will receive a $2,000 stipend and their course will become one of the first UNM Online Best Practice Certified Courses. Additionally, the faculty member’s course will be submitted for Quality Matters National Course Review, which is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses.

“The Best Practice Award process has been an opportunity that is making a genuine difference in the quality of our online courses,” says Adams. 

Over 90 faculty members submitted courses for review representing the following academic units: Arts & Sciences, Anderson School of Management, School of Engineering, School of Medicine, College of Fine Arts, College of Nursing, and University Libraries. 

A list of the Fall 2015 recipients can be found online. The 2016 recipients will be listed after the awards ceremony.