A University of Alabama at Birmingham instructor is the first to receive national recognition for online instruction at a public university in Alabama from the Quality Matters Program. QM, a nationally ranked peer review process, honored Mickey Gee, an instructor at the UAB School of Business, with its seal of recognition for his class Basic Marketing.
“It is a great honor and it is nice to see the UAB School of Business recognized for taking the lead in doing online learning right,” Gee says. “Our staff recognizes that access to education online is becoming more and more important and to do it right means a major commitment in time and resources.”
QM reviews each online course with a rubric that features 40 quality standards, with a team of three reviewers: a subject expert, design expert and external reviewer. The standards focus on alignment of course objectives with assessments, learning activities and course materials and learner engagement.
Elizabeth Fisher, Ph.D., is the instructional design manager for the UAB School of Business responsible for designing online courses in collaboration with faculty.
“Online courses without interactivity and engagement with the instructor and other students are really just correspondence courses,” says Fisher, a certified QM peer reviewer. “We work hard to make sure students receive the high quality education and experience online that they expect from the UAB School of Business.”
Fisher has worked with 35 faculty members to develop 40 online courses with plans to increase online offerings. Her primary role is to ensure quality standards and best practices in online instruction by providing design and pedagogical support to faculty.
Gee has been an Executive-in-Residence and a full-time instructor with the UAB School of Business for a decade. In his first career he owned a Birmingham-based retail chain for 40 years. While others with his knowledge and experience might shun advances in methods of teaching, Gee has been as eager as his students to learn.
“I’m not the youngest guy around here, but in my business career I figured out early on that to be competitive you had to embrace technology,” said Gee. “When I joined the faculty at UAB my thoughts on that did not change because any time you can use technology to make something better – why not?”
Fisher agrees, and says using the internet in the classroom goes beyond using technology just for technology’s sake. “Online learning expands the access to knowledge for those who want to further their education, but are unable to attend in a traditional classroom setting.”
The UAB School of Business currently offers its entire core courses online and plans to launch its first online program, a bachelor’s of accounting degree, in the summer 2012. An online masters in accounting will follow in fall 2012. Other online programs and certificates are being explored. Additionally, in an effort to go green and provide students and faculty convenience, the school is moving toward all courses being web enhanced providing at least the syllabus and schedule online.