Tag: RSI Standards

OSCQR – Standard #30RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #30RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides activities for learners to develop higher-order thinking and problem solving skills, such as critical reflection and analysis.

Review These Explanations

Cognitive presence is the extent to which learners are able to construct and confirm meaning through sustained reflection and discourse (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2001). Where the learner thinks critically, they go through the process of constructing knowledge, inquiring, exploring, and thinking.

Cognitive presence relies on critical thinking skills and active learning, as well helping learners to connect existing ideas and create new knowledge. This can be achieved by:

  • Contextualizing course content to help learners better understand key concepts.
  • Bringing in diverse resources to help learners.
  • Guiding learners to move from low-order to high-order thinking exercises.
  • Aligning course assignments and activities to measurable learning objectives

With measurable objectives guiding the pathway to higher-order thinking skills, Bloom’s Taxonomy can provide a framework for exploring different levels of thinking and associated skills and competencies, and help guide the development of appropriate course activities.

Bloom’s Taxonomy is a framework developed in 1956 by Benjamin Bloom, which classifies levels of learning into the following categories: knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. Each taxonomy highlights different categories of the human thought process, moving from lower-order through to higher-order thinking skills. The taxonomy was revised in the 1990s to use verbs instead of nouns for each level, as follows: remember, understand, apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

Within this framework, consider activities that allow learners to reflect individually and as a group about what they are learning, how they know they are learning, and what is helping and hindering their learning.

Create activities that provide opportunities for learners to be puzzled (the notion of adequate challenge and perplexity), giving them the opportunity to recognize problems and construct knowledge through collaboration and interaction (collaborative inquiry).

References:

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., Archer, W. (2001). Critical thinking, cognitive presence, and computer conferencing in distance education. American Journal of Distance Education, 15(1).

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses can support regular and substantive interaction via activities and interactions with the instructor that guide learners to deepen their learning, by asking questions that require learners to dig deeper into their understanding of course content and concepts. And by designing course opportunities, activities, interactions, and communications to specifically target and assist learners to move from the basic levels of cognition, including concrete thinking, memorization and understanding (knowledge, comprehension, and application), to higher order thinking skills, including abstract, critical, metacognitive creative thinking, (analysis synthesis and evaluation). Direct interaction with the instructor within course activities, such as guiding or asking questions to deepen learning and understanding in an online discussion forum, for example, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling specific instructor-facilitated course discussions/interactions, question and answer, or help and feedback sessions (group or individual) designed to target the development of higher order thinking and problem-solving skills demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Student Cognition Toolbox.
  • Use Bloom’s in rubrics to guide students in higher-order thinking/problem- solving skills.
  • Provide opportunities for mentoring. Private between learner and instructor – individual feedback and engagement.
  • Deeper Learning Competencies
  • Create peer review groups to encourage learners to learn from each other, and help each other construct new knowledge.
  • Create a scenario based discussion forum, and assign roles to each learner. An example is determining who gets the only available bed in an ICU unit, with roles assigned as hospital administrator, doctor, patient, family member, case worker, etc.
  • Have learners present a proposed project or research topic to the class to solicit feedback that they can then integrate that feedback into their own work.
  • Create a simple weekly challenge to encourage creative thinking. For example, have learners share one related resource to the module topic, and share why it matters to them, and what value it brings to the course.

Examples

  • Include reflection as part of project  . Have learners reflect on the process they went through completing a project, and how that process impacted their learning.
  • Future self” journal entries. Learners imagine a ‘future self’ position/goal they are aiming for that relates to the discipline. Instructor asks students to select one or two key concepts from the week or module and write a journal entry in which they tell a story about how they envision putting the concepts into practice in a ‘future self’ scenario.
  • “Connect the Dots” video: Ask students to complete a module pre-test, then create a short video that:
    • Customizes module learning objective explanations/examples and critical thinking opportunities present in the module based on pre-test results.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore methods and approaches to creating exercises that foster reflection and critical thinking into your online course content to benefit learner success.

Assign Six Word Memoirs for Reflection and Synthesis
Repurposing the six-word memoir format as an academic exercise has unlimited possibilities using mobile devices and the affordance of texting and social media. In online/blended courses, the six-word memoir may be implemented using a variety of repositories such as an LMS, a blog, social media space, etc. (Read more …)
Blogging as a Reflection Tool
UCF education professor Debbie Kirkley uses student blogs to fulfill the requirement of students to keep a journal throughout the semester to reflect on course projects and their experiences. (Read more …)
Using a Guided Approach to Support Critical Thinking in Online Discussions
Supporting college students to develop critical thinking skills is an overarching goal in higher education. Students with developed critical thinking skills have the ability to evaluate their own arguments as well as others, resolve conflicts, and generate well-reasoned resolutions to complex problems (Behar-Horenstein & Niu, 2011). Given that there is an exponential increase in the information and knowledge being generated, possessing critical thinking skills fulfills the goal of nurturing students to become responsible citizens in a complex society. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Bloom’s Quicksheets (PDF Reference Sheets)
The Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy Quicksheets are a quick and easy summary of the six different taxonomic levels of Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy. They define the different taxonomic levels, provide the Digital Taxonomy Verbs with some possibilities for classroom use.
This interactive web-site is designed to collect published research about the CoI and discuss these publications with interested researchers and practitioners.
Sadafa, A. & Olesovab, L. Enhancing cognitive presence in online case discussions with questions based on the Practical Inquiry model. American Journal of Distance Education, Published online: 31 Jan 2017.

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OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #29RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #29RSI Dashboard illustration

Course offers access to a variety of engaging resources to present content, support learning and collaboration, and facilitate regular and substantive interaction with the instructor.

Review These Explanations

Learners’ perceptions of their own learning may not be an accurate measure of how well they’re actually learning. For example, a recent study (Deslauriers, et al, 2019) found that while a lecture delivered by a charismatic personality can result in students reporting that they feel they learned more through a traditional lecture, they actually learned more by taking part in active-learning strategies. Active learning requires effort and can feel frustrating. That experience can be perceived as a negative learning experience and the effort misinterpreted as a sign of poor learning.

Learners benefit more from activities than from the simple passive presentation of content. External readings and activities, assignments, discussions, interactive web sites, online assessments (formative and summative) should all be connected clearly to mastering course concepts, and aligned with module, course, and program objectives. An online course that presents course content in an engaging and appropriate manner, that facilitates interaction, application, and collaboration around course concepts, and that provides authentic online assessments and opportunities for engaging feedback makes the course more engaging, interactive, and effective. Centering pedagogical decisions on the learner provides the learner with options for how they make their thinking and their learning visible in ways appropriate and effective in the online environment, and open to feedback from both the instructors and their peers in the course, which provides opportunities to deepen learning, and for more authentic ways to assess learning/mastery.

Learners engage in online learning activities more readily when relevance to the course content is clear to them. Resources should be contextualized, and opportunities for feedback should be included throughout the course (Chakraborty & Nafukho, 2014).

Learners need to know why they are required to read, review, discuss, or create materials in the course. When they know reasoning behind what they need to complete, they will be more engaged.

References:

Deslauriers, L., McCarty, L.S., Miller, K., Callaghan, K., and Kestin, G. (2019) Measuring actual learning versus feeling of learning in response to being actively engaged in the classroom. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116, 39, Pp. 19251–19257.

Chakraborty, M., & Nafukho, F. f. (2014). Strengthening student engagement: what do students want in online courses?. European Journal of Training & Development, 38(9), 782-802.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses support regular and substantive interaction by offering a variety of types of engagement and interaction with the instructor in ways that are predictable and scheduled. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways.

Substantive interaction is defined as direct interaction between the learner and the instructor to engage learners in course teaching, learning, and assessment activities. This direct instruction from the instructor includes:

  • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
  • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
  • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
  • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

Regular interaction means that the instructor interacts with online learners on a predictable and scheduled basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency.

RSI is consistent with the research and theory explained by the Community of Inquiry Framework (CoI), which comprises Social, Cognitive and Teaching presences. This standard aligns closely with the CoI definition of Teaching Presence, which, as defined, is “the design, facilitation, and direction of cognitive and social processes for the purpose of realizing personally meaningful and educationally worthwhile learning outcomes.” (p.5, Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001).

Teaching Presence comprises 3 overarching categories of indicators

  • Facilitating Discourse
    • Identifying areas of agreement and disagreement.
    • Seeking to reach consensus and understanding.
    • Setting the climate for learning
    • Drawing in participants, prompting discussion/interaction.
    • Assessing the efficacy of the process.
  • Instructional Design and Organization
    • Setting the curriculum.
    • Designing methods.
    • Establishing time parameters.
    • Utilizing the medium effectively.
    • Establishing netiquette.
  • Direct Instruction
    • Presenting content and questions.
    • Focusing the discussion.
    • Summarizing the discussion.
    • Confirming understanding.
    • Diagnosing misperceptions.
    • Injecting knowledge from diverse sources.
    • Responding to technical concerns.

Online courses designed to support and facilitate high levels of teaching presence in both learners and instructors that engage learners in a variety of active, interactive, and authentic online learning activities support and facilitate RSI with the instructor. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course activites, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Team ‘teach back’ assignments. Create teams and assign (one team at a time) the task of teaching an important module concept (using a rubric) – in their format of choice. Perhaps this could be done one time per week or one time per module. The course Instructor would offer feedback to ensure information correctness. Teams would review feedback and edit as needed. The course Instructor would then share the final product with the entire class.
  • Team resource contributions. Create study teams. Give each team a blog. Team members would evaluate and submit 1-3 internet resources (websites, articles, etc) that add value (as defined in a rubric) to discussion topics and/or module topics. The Course Instructor would then comment/rate team resource contributions.
  • Provide opportunities for social annotation or collaborative bookmarking (e.g., use diigo, or Hypothes.is – to enable your learners to annotate, contribute and comment on additional resources), comment areas, and discussion forums (in text or media) associated with resources and other content.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explore methods and approaches to integrating engaging resources and activities into your online course content to benefit learner success.

Convert Course Materials into an Instructional Simulation Using Gaming Elements
In an online course, a frequent criticism is that PowerPoint’s are poorly designed and critical supporting information is often missing (with no presenter to fill in the blanks!) (Elder, 2009). On the other hand, instructional simulations combine multimedia elements (i.e. sound, images, video, etc) to represent (simulate) particular aspects of an actual situation (Hays, 2006). (Read more …)
Convert PowerPoint Presentations into Wiki Pages for Online Delivery
While PowerPoint presentations can be effective when used as a visual aid to support the messages presented face-to-face, they are typically not as effective when viewed in a fully online environment where the instructor is absent. It is difficult to include enough context to the slides without adding excessive text (Shank, 2012). (Read more …)
Use Academic Challenges and Experiential Missions to Provide Learner Choice and Engage Learners In Online Course Activities
Aligning learners’ instructional preferences with course activities and providing opportunities for learner choice are widely recognized as educational best practice, helping learners to engage with content and learn more effectively (Kern & State, 2009; Patall, Dent, Oyer, & Wynn, 2013; Patall, Cooper, & Wynn, 2010), and researchers and practitioners have started extending this instructional approach to online learning (Akdemir & Koszalka, 2008; Tonsing-Meyer, 2013). (Read more …)
Use Videos to Illustrate Complicated Conceptual Knowledge
Most academic disciplines include highly conceptual or abstract concepts that are difficult for learners to grasp. For instance, building a solid foundation of conceptual knowledge for learners is critical in engineering education (Streveler et al., 2008). An incomplete conceptual understanding hinders the development of central engineering competencies and expertise. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Dixson, M. d. (2012). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction, Updated Edition. NACTA Journal, 56(2), 99-100.
Wyatt, J. L. (2014). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction. Adult Learning, 25(2), 74-75.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #19RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #19RSI Dashboard illustration

Instructions are provided and well written.

Review These Explanations

A learner’s academic engagement and success depend on many things. In an online course one element of importance is how well a learner understands what they are supposed to do, when, and how, so that they can meet the expectations and objectives of the activity, and get feedback to improve their understanding and learning, make progress, and complete the course successfully. This standard is intended to ensure that all course instructions are clear, findable, consistent, well written, free of ambiguity or error. Online course instructions are the voice of the instructor and set the tone for course interactions.

Clear instructions help learners to function in the online environment without having to repeatedly ask for clarification. Instructions can be communicated in many different forms in an online course, including orientations, introductions, announcements, guidelines, examples, and rubrics, etc.

Instructions contextualize course content, interaction, activity, and assessment by guiding learners through course materials, activities, interactions and assessments. Well written instructions address what, where, how and when learners need to do, why they need to do it, how it relates to course, module, or program objectives, how they will be assessed, and when they can expect feedback.

Instructions provide learners with the necessary guidance and confidence to successfully complete specific tasks, activities, assignments, interactions, or assessments in the course.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

Online course instructions can support regular and substantive interaction by providing specific explanations, instructions, and details on how, when, where, and by whom course tasks, assignments, interactions, and assessments will take place. Learner questions can be anticipated in the course instructions by including examples, models, rubrics and associated information, such as how to ask for help, get questions answered, and how and when feedback can be expected. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about course instructions, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Provide instructions for all assignments, activities, tasks.
  • Review your instructions taking the perspective of the learner. If there are steps to follow, go through each one to be sure they are easy to follow.
  • Create short screen-casted videos (or audio files) that ‘walk learners through’ assignment details and/or showcase exemplary example submissions.
  • Provide a forum or anonymous place to ask questions about course assignments, and make sure that course participants know how and where  to find and engage in this area of the course for this purpose.
  • Create an open discussion forum and link to it from within assignment or activity instructions for learners to connect and communicate any questions or issues they may encounter.
  • Hold “Office hours” (synchronous or asynchronous) devoted to answering questions on upcoming assignments with follow up announcements and/or “FAQs” for all learners on common assignment-related questions and clarifications.
  • Create and automate course announcements reiterating/reinforcing course instructions where appropriate.
  • Include links to troubleshooting or help resources.
  • Write instructions across all assignments using consistent language, format, and fonts for ease of use.
    • Position instructions in consistent locations throughout the course.
    • Use consistent naming conventions for assignments, activities, tasks and provide contextual titles as advanced organizers to convey a summary of the content.
    • Consider how instructions tie back to learning objectives and use consistent language that refers back to those objectives.
  • Provide an estimate of how long the assignment is estimated to complete.
  • When appropriate, provide a link to a rubric, or information on how a learner will be evaluated.
  • When appropriate, provide examples or models of exemplary assignments.

Explore Related Resources

Lorenzetti, J. P. (2008). 14 Ways Faculty Can Improve Online Student Retention. Recruitment & Retention in Higher Education, 22(12), 6-7.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #10RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #10RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides contact information for instructor, department, and program.

Review These Explanations

In addition to providing this information in the syllabus, including a contact information page in the course information documents opens opportunities for learners to contact and interact with course instructors, as well as department and program administrators. Be sure that there is a printable version of this information for learners to have on hand in case they are unable to access the online class and need to get in touch.

Interaction guidelines can be included along with contact information, and should indicate when and how the instructor prefers to be contacted. When posting department and program information, include hours of operation (if appropriate), and contact options if learners need to access to department or program resources outside of those hours.

Opening avenues for communication, and providing easy access to those channels supports learner-instructor interaction, and facilitates engaging in supportive contact and interaction, a key component of social presence. (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000).

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

This standard can support regular and substantive interaction compliance by providing contact information and information to clarify expectations, roles, and communication plans and channels, all of which are essential aspects of a well-designed online course. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Share expectations for contact including your your preferred, or required modes of contact.
  • Provide information on regular office hours, how/where to ask questions, or get extra help, where to go for advisement, how to contact or access any department or program information or resources, etc.
    • Share information about any required or optional online “office hours.”
    • Mention the specific purposes of specific areas in the course for asking questions.
  • If a student contacts you in a way or at a time that is not expected, or your preference, direct them to your preferred modes of contact.
  • Be explicit about how you would like them to address you, and what information they may need to include in certain communications to make sure you know who they are and what course (or institutions) they may be from.
    • Provide information on preferred ways of being addressed, including, for example, preferred pronouns, by first name, or preferred name, name prefixes, e.g., Dr., Mrs., etc., and ask learners how they would like to be addressed.
  • Make sure your students know specifically what to expect in terms of your response time.
  • Create a digital business card with your contact information and share it out via course announcements.
  • Model the use of the features in your LMS for contact information, such as profiles.
  • Include instructor, department, and program contact information in your syllabus and course information areas.
  • Develop a Key Contacts list and link to it from the course home page, making it easy for learners to access, download, and print as they enter the learning space.
  • Consider including an informal video introduction to the department and program staff, so that learners have a better idea of who they are reaching out to, and include that in the contact information area.
  • Remember to update your contact information if you are traveling to another time zone, or your availability changes in any way during the delivery of your course.
  • Recommend that learners print out Contact Information, so they have access to the information offline.
    • If you are using a syllabus quiz, or scavenger hunt orientation activity, be sure to include finding and printing out the Contact Information provided in that activity!

Explore Related Resources

If you’d like to better understand the “rules of the road” for online teaching and learning, 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education is the perfect guidebook. Explore Chapter 2: Practice Proactive Course Management Strategies for related tips.
Aragon, S. R. (2003), Creating social presence in online environments. New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2003: 57–68.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #9RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #9RSI Dashboard illustration

Course objectives/outcomes are clearly defined, measurable, and aligned to learning activities and assessments.

Review These Explanations

Learning objectives and outcomes are essentially milestones on the learning pathway – milestones that learners need to achieve in order to succeed. Course objectives should express some level of mastery that learners will need to demonstrate as a result of participating fully in the course. Learners need to understand how what they are learning, and what they are required to demonstrate, are connect to the course outcomes.

All course content, learning activities, interactions and assessments should be in alignment with these objectives/outcomes. These relationships should be clearly explained in order to provide relevance of learning to the learners (Knowles, 1984). Objectives should address what learners need to know when they complete the module, course, or program, and aligned activities and assessments should showcase how learners have achieved those objectives.

Keep in mind that well written learning objectives are made up of four parts – the identity of the learner, the skill that you want the learner to demonstrate, the conditions under the learner will demonstrate that skill, and the criteria in place to measure mastery of that skill.

Overall course objectives should be clearly communicated via the syllabus and course information documents, and module objectives should be introduced at the beginning of every module.

References:

Knowles, M. (1984). Andragogy in Action. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

Online course objectives detail the course goals and expected learning outcomes for learners in the online course. This standard can support regular and substantive interaction by providing learners with opportunities to establish and discuss the relevance of the studied materials to their academic, professional, and personal lives. Giving learners the opportunity to interact with the instructor to discuss their reasons for taking the course, prior knowledge of course discipline/content, and expectations for the course are all good strategies that can be accomplished in the design and activities of the course. For example in an ice breaking discussion. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics as the course begins, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated introductory discussion demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

Examples

  • Use verbs that are actionable and measurable in writing objectives/outcomes. Test each objective/outcome by detailing out exactly how you are measuring it, and how you will know learners have met set criteria.
  • Create a course or module map to share with your learners that details how each objective falls in sequence in the course, along with the activities and assignments that measure associated knowledge and/or mastery.
  • Use the 2nd person (you/your) tense in communicating the objectives, instead of a generic “learners will learn”. This personalizes the statement for your learners.
  • Reiterate the association and alignment of learning objectives by listing any associated objectives in the activity or assignment instructions.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores the purpose and benefits of breaking down course objectives to the modular level, and provides an example of scaffolding learning across modules.

Relate Course Goals into Modular Measurable Learning Objectives
Creating clear and measurable objectives is key to developing purposeful and systematic instruction. One of the strategies instructors used is to relate course goals into one or more measurable learning objectives for each unit/module/week of your course. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

This site explores the “why” and “how” of assessment.
This poster from Fractus Learning lists each level along with a variety of associated action verbs you can use to guide the development of learning objectives.
This tools generates learning objectives based on a variety of set variables, with room to enter new values. Originally designed for academia, this tool is a fun way to generate new objectives!
McCracken, J., Cho, S., Sharif, A., Wilson, B., & Miller, J.. (2012). Principled Assessment Strategy Design for Online Courses and Programs. Electronic Journal of E-Learning, 10(1), 107-119.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #6RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #6RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides access to online learner success resources (support services, orientation, academic honesty, tutoring, technical help).

Review These Explanations

As more online services are available on-demand (24/7), online learners turn to campus services with high expectations. Easy access to online student supports and services such as technical help, orientation resources, tutoring services and other available online learner supports and services will limit frustration, and enable learners to find and access the help they need, when they need it.

In many cases, links to campus and SUNY Online supports and technical help will be included on the LMS home page, with instructions on how to access various offices, such as IT departments via phone, email, or ticketing system. As many learners bypass the home page, it is important to include this information within the Course Information materials, or within specific course assignments that may require direct technical assistance.

Providing direct links to online learner supports, such as library and tutoring services within the Course Information materials, as well as within individual assignments, will make it easier for learners to be aware of, become familiar with, and access these resources. When including links to tutoring, or orientation resources, provide the instructor’s perspective on the benefits of using these services to further their learning goals and succeed in the course and/or program. Learners should also know what non-academic student supports are available, and how to access them.

Connecting online learners to support services and  resources at the course level will open opportunities to explore available services, and more fully use those services to their benefit.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

This standard can support regular and substantive interaction by making it clear how the instructor intends to support online learner success, making it clear how the learner can get help, or access materials and resources for assistance, and by providing suggestions, and opportunities for interaction, question and answer, clarification, advisement, and direct learner support on these topics. Supporting online learner success is one of the main roles and responsibilities of the online instructor, which can be articulated in both the design and expectations set for interaction and delivery of the course. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  1. On many SUNY campuses links are inserted into online courses to help learners easily find/navigate to relevant administrative, academic, and technical resources available to the online learner. The content and links are typically maintained by campus staff to ensure that they are current and easily accessible.
  2. Provide explicit details on how to contact appropriate services. For example, create a short screencast video, with an overview of where to locate and how to access learner support services and resources, and include it in the course information materials area of the course.
  3. Include links to online tutoring, writing, library services in relevant assignments and/or course projects.
  4. Ask the tutoring, writing, library services to provide you with a video orientation that you can share in your course information, or assignment areas.
  5. Invite a learner support staff member to a virtual class meeting to give an orientation and overview of the academic and non-academic resources, supports, and services available for online learners.
  6. Create a folder of materials to help scaffold self-regulated learning strategies and support online learner success. Refer learners to those resources during the course, and provide a forum for asking questions or seeking assistance.
  7. Set up automated announcements that highlight the technical help, orientation resources, tutoring services, and other available online learner supports, that are timed to align with assignments, or other term events where additional assistance might be needed.
  8. Regarding academic honesty, the example below (couches in a positive way) how the online course design can alert learners to use of an academic integrity tool:
    • The purpose of using this tool is to improve academic integrity, foster fairness, and promote original thinking. The software tool generates a report that shows you how much of your work “matches” another’s work.  This will allow you to make the necessary revisions to your work so that your integrity is not called into question. The goal is to enable both you and me to assess the authenticity and originality of your written work.
  9. There are a number of things that online instructors can do to support online learner success. Online learners can also support their own success. Being aware of the best practices and strategies that support online learner self-regulation and self-efficacy can inform online course design and approaches to online teaching and learning.

Support Online Learner Success

  • Be timely in your interactions and with your feedback.
  • Encourage learner self-assessment and self-reflection.
  • Provide opportunities for students to make choices in course assignments that allow them to relate them to their real lives, or to use their skills and interests.
  • Encourage peer evaluation.
  • Encourage peer support and peer interaction and collaboration in the course to address and alleviate the sense of isolation online students feel.
  • Provide a course schedule with assignments and due dates to make planning and time management easier.
  • Use the grade book make learner self-monitoring of progress in the course easier.
  • Leverage early alerts systems, such as Starfish, to identify learners at risk and take preventive action.
  • Provide exemplar/model assignments.
  • Create an environment where students feel they have access to you, their classmates, resources, and help – and where their questions can get answered.
  • Recognize and acknowledge student success, effort, and accomplishments with course work, life challenges, and with technology used in the course.
  • Draw student attention to how the skills they develop in your course and the material they learn will be useful in their real life and will help them be successful in the future.
  • Reassure students that they can be successful in your course and give them tips on how (for example, collect stories from and suggestions from past students in the form of advice for future student).

Support Academic Honesty

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores the purpose and benefits of using screencasting tools. Explore the possibilities of using these tools to connect learners to services and help centers.

Use Screencasts to Provide Learners Tutorials or to Explain Harder to Grasp Concepts
Screencasting refers to as a digitally recorded playback of computer screen output which often contains audio narration (Udell, 2005). Faculty choose to use them to record portions of lectures to provide overview, describe procedures, present concepts, focus attention and elaborate content. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Burns, S., Cunningham, J., & Foran-Mulcahy, K. (2014). Asynchronous Online Instruction: Creative Collaboration for Virtual Student Support. CEA Critic, 76(1), 114-131.
Carnevale, D. (2007). Late-Night Stress on the IT Help Desk. Chronicle of Higher Education, 54(11), A29.
Whipp J.L., &  Chiarelli, S.,  (December2004) Self-Regulation in a Web-Based Course: A Case Study, Educational Technology Research and Development, Vol. 52, No. 4 : 5-21.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

OSCQR – Standard #3RSI Dashboard illustration

OSCQR – Standard #3RSI Dashboard illustration

Course includes a course information area and syllabus that make course expectations clear and findable.

Review These Explanations

Simunich, Robins, and Kelly (2015) found that courses with high levels of findability, based on careful development and placement of course information materials, have a direct impact on learner perceptions of course quality, experience, and successful learning outcomes.

Creating an area in the course for Course Information/Syllabus materials, provides the opportunity to present course information into well-labeled smaller chunks of information for the learners to easily access and review. The intent is to enable learners to find varied, discrete course information details easily and quickly with a scan of document heads and subheads, or one or two clicks, rather than having the information buried in obscure nested folders/documents, or a convoluted and lengthy syllabus .pdf.

A recommended approach is to create a dedicated Course Information/Syllabus area that is positioned prominently in the course for easy access, and to present the information clearly with attention to descriptive and relevant titles. This information can mirror the information in the syllabus, and provide an additional means through which learners can orient themselves to the activities and expectations of the online course.

Think about Course Information/Syllabus materials from the online learner’s perspective and use them to anticipate and address learner questions, build trust, support online learner confidence, and lessen the sense of online isolation. Use Course Information/Syllabus materials to:

  • Define the instructor’s role and responsibility to learners.
  • Explain the roles and responsibilities of the learners.
  • Provide clear learning objectives/outcomes.
  • Establish course expectations and plans for evaluation, assessment, and feedback.
  • Describe course activities and familiarize learners with how the course functions.
  • Provide information on how, when, and where course communications and interactions with the instructor and between learners will take place.

References:

Simunich, B., Robins, D. B., & Kelly, V. (2015). The Impact of Findability on Student Motivation, Self-Efficacy, and Perceptions of Online Course Quality. American Journal of Distance Education, 29(3), 174-185. (https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2015.1058604)

Key findings have implications and support for the deconstructed syllabus, well named modules, etc. “Findability may have a significant effect on self-efficacy and motivation, as well as student perception of the instructor.”

Video that explains these results.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline courses support regular and substantive interaction by including communication plans for regular, predictable, and substantive instructor-to-learner interaction, and clearly stated expectations for timely and regular feedback from the instructor. Overall course expectations regarding instructor and learner roles, course communications, interaction, collaboration, assessments/ evaluation, and instructor-learner, learner-learner and learner engagement need to be explicit, clear, and easy to find. The course syllabus provides course details such as purpose, description, credit information, learning outcomes, learning activities, methods and criteria for evaluation, plans for regular and substantive interaction, plan for formative assessment, and any other requirements. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these course information and syllabus topics, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Substantive interaction is defined as direct interaction between the learner and the instructor to engage learners in course teaching, learning, and assessment activities. This direct instruction from the instructor includes:

  • Assessing or providing feedback on a student’s coursework.
  • Providing information or responding to questions about the content of a course.
  • Facilitating a group discussion regarding the content of a course or competency.
  • Other instructional activities approved by the institution’s or program’s accrediting agency.

Regular interaction requires an institution to ensure, prior to the student’s completion of a course or competency, that there is the opportunity for substantive interactions with the student on a predictable and scheduled basis commensurate with the length of time and the amount of content in the course or competency.

The online course syllabus could include an Instructor Communication Plan that specifies how, when, and where communications, interactions, and feedback with/from the instructor can be expected.

The syllabus could also contain a section labeled Regular and Substantive Interaction such as:

As your instructor, I plan to interact and engage with each of you on a regular basis throughout the term to support your learning. I will provide direct instruction related to the course’s learning objectives, respond to your questions, grade and/or provide feedback on your submitted coursework, post regular announcements, and engage in the course discussion areas regarding academic course content when appropriate.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  1. A prominent area in our course dedicated to Course Information/Syllabus materials is intended to help your learners find their way through the most important details related to participating, and succeeding in the online course.
    • Course information documents provide instructor explanations. The instructor’s intentions live in these documents, set tone, and convey the voice of the instructor.
    • Course information documents make course expectations explicit, and detail specifics about course communications, assistance/help, contact, interactions, office hours, etc.
    • Create a set of Course Information Documents
  2. Provide a searchable syllabus document with clear and consistent heads and subheads, or a deconstructed syllabus that presents categories of course information in separate documents organized in an outline type format to make course information and expectations explicit, clear, and easy to find.
  3. Provide rubrics, strategies for time management, and examples/models of previous student work.
  4. Clarity in naming conventions is key. In introductory course information and materials it is important to refer to content, interaction, and assessment items consistently and using simple titles/labels – an exam should be referred to as an exam, a case study should be referred to as such, and the same for any interaction elements such as discussion forums. Adding additional contextual information to course material titles/labels further improves course organization, clarity, and findablity.
  5. Use active language to guide learners to take action – for example, course information pages can be titled, “Purchase Required Textbooks”, “Read through Interaction Guidelines”, “Print out the Course Calendar”, “Take Note of Office Hours”, and the like. These active titles act as key signposts for learners to navigate through the online course, and when the quickly want to find that information again – making for a high level of findability in your course.

Examples

  • Each element in the Course Information/Syllabus area steers learners to specific information by categorizing course information:
    • Course Welcome
    • Instructor Contact Information and Office Hours
    • Instructor Expectations
    • Schedule and Due Dates
    • Required Texts and Associated Materials
    • Learning Activity Overview
    • Interaction Guidelines
    • Grading and Assignment Rubrics
    • Campus Policies and Resources
    • Strategies for Success
    • Ask a Question (Open Discussion Forum)
  • Example actionable titles:
    • Welcome to (list the course name and number)
    • Get to Know Your Instructor
    • Learn What I Expect from You, and What You Can Expect From Me
    • Go through the Course Schedule
    • Review Required Texts and Associated Materials
    • Discover How to Communicate and Interact in this Course
    • Explore Campus Policies and Resources
    • Understand How to Succeed in this Course
    • Ask a Question (Open Discussion Forum)
  • A dedicated course folder (module, or area) titled Course Information/Syllabus, may be enhanced by the use of a subtitle, or short description that will appear with it as an advance organizer, to aid in findability. For example:

    I encourage you to explore the documents in this folder for more information about the course learning objectives, grading criteria, learning activities, and expectations. If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out to me immediately via the course messaging tool.

  • Remember to introduce the Course Information/Syllabus area in your Course Overview, and refer back to it consistently throughout the course. For example, in your discussion forum instructions, direct learners to the Course Information area for more information about interaction guidelines and expectations.
  • Learner-Centered Mindful Syllabus Checklist (PDF)
  • Learner-Centered Mindful Syllabus Checklist (Printable Text)
  • The Chronicle’s How to Create a Syllabus Advice Guide webpage
  • Syllabus Creation Guide
  • Review your Syllabus.
  • Revise your Syllabus.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas

This video explores at approaches to orienting learners to the online course, and setting expectations through an introductory module, or course information area:

Explore Related Resources

Fisher, E. A., and V. H. Wright. 2010. Improving online course design through usability testing. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching 6 (1): 228–245. Irizarry, R. 2002.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.
Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

*OSCQR – Standard #2RSI Dashboard illustration

*OSCQR – Standard #2RSI Dashboard illustration

Course provides an overall orientation or overview, as well as module-level overviews to make course content, activities, assignments, due dates, interactions, and assessments, predictable and easy to navigate/find.

Review These Explanations

Adult learners benefit from knowing what they are about to learn, as well as the scope of work and time commitment expected from them. Providing an overview of the online course will prepare learners for what, when, where and why they will be learning, and an overview of each course module will provide information on, in advance, what content, interaction, and assessment will take place within a specific period of time.

These “advance organizers” will help learners plan around conflicting priorities (school, family, children, work) and better manage their time.

The overall course orientation and/or overview should relay the same type of information that would be provided in a face-to-face class, including information from the syllabus, such as:

  • Course objectives
  • Required readings
  • Interaction Guidelines
  • Expectations
  • Due dates

The module orientation should include at least a short introduction to the module topic, and indicate what materials need to be reviewed, and what activities and assignments need to be completed. Remember to include due dates for every assignment and activity included in the module. This will help your learners stay on track!

Taylor, Dunn, and Winn (2015) write that ensuring that learners feel comfortable within the online course setting – knowing how to navigate, and what is expected – will set learners up for success. Providing course and module overviews provide learners with a means to navigate the course so that they can stay on track and succeed in their learning.

References:

Taylor, J. M., Dunn, M., & Winn, S. K. (2015). Innovative Orientation Leads to Improved Success in Online Courses. Online Learning, 19(4).

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSIRSI Dashboard illustration

Online course and module overviews support regular and substantive interaction by including specific explanations, instructions, and details on how, when, where, and by whom online course communications, interactions, discussions, asking for help, getting questions answered, feedback, etc., will take place. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated discussion on these topics demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  1. Anticipate the questions learners might ask about the course (access, navigation, learning materials, due dates) and address them within the orientation/overview.
  2. Provide a discussion forum where learners can ask course or module-level questions g,et clarification, or ask for help from the instructor.
  3. Schedule a specific time frame for interaction with the instructor for learners to get clarification or ask course- and module-level questions.
    1. This could be documented in the course calendar, and sent out as an announcement.
    2. Announcements can be set up in advance and scheduled to be released in conjunction with the course start, and subsequent module starts.
  4. Use learner-centered language, and address what the learner will experience.
  5. Address a single learner. Use second person singular, e.g., “You will learn…” vs. “Course participants will learn…”

Examples

Course Overviews

  • Provide a detailed written description of the types of learning activities learners will engage in, including all content, interaction, and assessment types included in the course.
  • Be sure to include the expected time required to participate and engage fully in the course each week throughout the term (e.g., “Please expect nine hours per week…”).
  • Create a short video introductory overview tour of your course within the LMS using a screen casting tool (e.g., screencast-o-matic, SnagIt, Captivate, Screencastify). This can help learners better navigate the course space, by letting them see the structure of learning modules and how to locate and access all course materials.
  • Create a course map or calendar to visualize the sequence of course modules, types of learning activities, anticipated duration of each activity, and indications of when assignments are due.
  • Bring attention to the most important elements of the online class, such as learning objectives, communication channels, required outside resources, and due dates.

Module Overviews

For module overviews, provide a more detailed description of learning content, activities, and assessments, including:

  • An introductory paragraph about the topics to be covered within the module, and how they fit within the scope of the full subject being covered in the course.
  • A list of module-specific learning objectives.
  • A list and/or explanation of key concepts that will be covered.
  • Assigned readings and associated resources to review, including dates that learners should expect to have completed each readings and/or resources.
  • Due dates for all assignments, even if stated elsewhere. These reminders will help learners stay on track.
  • A link back to the overall course schedule and/or course map.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

These Pedagogical Practices from TOPR explore the purpose and benefits of creating a course orientation module and advance organizers for your online course, including links to example artifacts and scholarly references:

Course Orientation Module
A Course Orientation Module serves as the orientation to an online course. Creating an Orientation Module is very similar to the events that can occur in first night of a face-to-face class. The purpose of this module is to help learners master the course routine, expectations, and organization as well as ensure that learners are familiar with the LMS and have all of the hardware/software required for the course. Providing this online orientation will provide learner support by helping learners become familiar with your course. (Read more …)
Advance Organizer
An advance organizer is relevant introductory materials presented in advance in any format of text, graphics, or hypermedia (Ausubel, 1968). Instructors may use an advance organizer to present a framework for module content. Ausubel’s idea of an “advance organizer” is to relate what a learner already knows to the new content to be learned and thus increase retention. Advance organizers should be at a higher level of abstraction, generality, and inclusiveness than the content to be presented. (Read more …)
Use Scavenger Hunts to Orient Learners
A scavenger hunt can be used to help orient learners to an online course at the beginning of the term (Chen, H-L and Staber, G., n.d.). This activity works like a traditional scavenger hunt, as one gives the learners specific instructions as to what they are to look for in the course. By completing the activities, learners navigate through the online classroom and become comfortable with where things are located. One might also give learners instructions for locating institutional resources or student services. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

Beckford, M. M. (2015). The Online Learning Orientation Session. Distance Learning, 12(4), 43-50.
Candy, P. C. (1991). Self-direction for lifelong learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.

*OSCQR – Standard #1RSI Dashboard illustration

*OSCQR – Standard #1RSI Dashboard illustration

Course includes Welcome and Getting Started content.

Review These Explanations

By welcoming learners to the course and providing context for what they will be learning, the instructor sets a tone for success from the start of the course. The course welcome should establish instructor presence and provide enough guidance to ensure that learners will get off to a good start in the online space. In essence, this is the learners’ first impression of the instructor, and the course.

In addition to knowing how and where to get started, learners need to know how to proceed when they first access an online course. Visual clues and simple notations, like “start here”, and “before you move on” help guide learners through course learning materials and activities.

The course welcome and getting started content should also provide an overview on, or introduce where course materials are located, and how to navigate through the learning management system to access learning content, activities, assignments, assessments, and communication tools.

Regular and Substantive Interaction (RSI)

How This Standard Supports RSI

RSI Dashboard illustrationOnline course Welcome and Getting Started activities can be designed to support regular and substantive interaction by mentioning how the instructor will be present, engaged, and interact with learners around online course content, activities, and interactions. Setting the expectations that learners have access to the instructor in a variety of ways, that there are planned and predictable communications, and that there will be opportunities for interaction and feedback from the instructor can be mentioned, practiced, and reinforced in the introductory course materials and activities. Directing learners to ask questions and interact with the instructor about these topics as the course begins, such as in an online discussion forum, further supports RSI, and is a good general practice. Scheduling a specific instructor-facilitated introductory discussion demonstrates compliance with RSI.

Refresh Your Course with These Ideas

General Suggestions

  • Add a welcome video supplemented with an introductory discussion forum where learners can interact with the instructor to ask questions, or get any clarification they may need about the course, expectations, etc.
  • Course Welcome materials should be welcoming. Course and instructor expectations should be detailed in other areas of the course and syllabus. The course Welcome can direct learners to other areas of detailed course expectations.
  • Provide a detailed instruction sheet, or quick reference guide, on how to get started and what to do first in the course. Post this on the course home page, or send it out to learners via mail, or course announcements.
    • Create a course FAQ that addresses important course navigation or participation issues.
  • Give learners the opportunity to “practice” varied required course activities in the course in a low stakes manner, so that technical and other issues can be addressed before course activity begins, such as participating in a discussion, downloading/uploading files, using the course communication mechanisms to contact the instructor, etc.
    • Create a quiz or scavenger hunt that encourages learners to navigate through the course and respond to your welcome message.
  • Hold an optional synchronous session to welcome learners, answer questions, and demonstrate how and where to get started in the course.
  • Consider options for, and plan regular communications (group and private email, course announcements, etc.) with your students before and after the course begins.
    • Leverage the online course announcement tools in your LMS to automatically send weekly check-in announcements.

 Examples

Ideas for Video Introductions

    • Create a course introduction video introducing learners to the course topic and learning content. Add your insight and expertise by contextualizing the learning activities alongside course and module learning objectives.
    • Create a course introduction video that highlights your achievements in the field, and relate that knowledge and experience back to what the learners will learn in the course.
    • Create a course introduction tour via video, audio, or illustrated document, that welcomes learners to your online course and explains how and where to get started.
    • Example Ice-breaking discussion in VT

Using Video Well

Be sure to include a script for any videos that you create in compliance with disability and accessibility laws and guidelines.

Explore More Refreshing Ideas from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) at the University of Central Florida (UCF)

This Pedagogical Practice from TOPR explores the purpose and benefits of creating a course orientation module for your online course, including links to example artifacts and scholarly references:

Course Orientation Module
A Course Orientation Module serves as the orientation to an online course. Creating an Orientation Module is very similar to the events that can occur in first night of a face-to-face class. (Read more …)

Explore Related Resources

From an instructor’s perspective, there is a great deal of thought that goes into the creation of a new course in Moodle — everything from the template and color scheme to the best way to relay contact information, and whether to use weeks or topics to separate time. One of the most important considerations, however, might also be one of the most overlooked: How do you greet the learners?
This article describes results from a study conducted to examine learners’ perceptions about the use of instructor-made videos that provided explanations of course assignments, syllabus requirements, discussed weekly topics, reviewed for exams, and answered learner questions in video format in both a 100% online course and in several face-to-face courses.
Dulaney, E. & States, T. How To Make the Most of a Video Introduction for an Online Course. Campus Technology, 06/11/14.
Taylor, J. M., Dunn, M., & Winn, S. K. (2015). Innovative Orientation Leads to Improved Success in Online Courses. Online Learning, 19(4), 112-120.

Share What You Know

OSCQR has been developed by a community of online practitioners interested in quality course design. There are numerous opportunities for community members to offer suggestions, donate resources, and help with future development.

Discuss this standard in the comments section at the bottom of this page.

Contribute your own ideas or refresh resources by filling out the OSCQR Examples Contribution Form.