As the Southern University System (SUS) campuses choose to offer new hybrid and online courses and programs, it is critical to establish high standards for quality online teaching and learning.  To this end, it is necessary to follow a standardized procedure to assess the quality of online instruction, and, thereafter, make desired improvements.  The goal of the Southern University Council of Online Learning Practitioners (SU-COLP) is to assist the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs & Provost in developing a quality assurance process by providing expert guidelines, policies, and identifying professional development needs to foster a culture of quality assurance and excellence in online learning design, delivery and assessment of Online Students Learning Outcomes (OSLO).

The SU-COLP Chair and members of the Council report directly to the Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs.  Members are appointed from each SU college to provide leadership in their respective colleges and departmental units as we strive to foster a culture of online learning as a strategic asset, and quality assurance as a lever for developing competitive and high-quality online programs.

The SU-COLP will collaborate with the existing campuses curriculum committees, and assist in the review and approval of new courses, and certificate and degree programs, but restrict its scrutiny to the aspects of the programs that involve online/hybrid learning.  Any program that provides an opportunity to earn most the degree online must be reviewed and approved by the SU-COLP.  This will be the first level of clearance before a degree program is submitted to the Louisiana Board of Regents and the SU regional accrediting agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS-COC)

The focus of this council is on those aspects of any degree proposal that involve online education, including delivery methods, faculty and student support, assessment, technology resources, financial arrangements, and other relevant matters.  The SU-COLP will also periodically review all existing programs to ensure compliance with the standards being utilized to examine new programs.  In addition, the SU-COLP will oversee a registry of all online degree and certificate programs offered across the entire SUS.

It is important to note that the SUS seeks to decentralize the process of oversight, and encourages the respective department and college leadership to exercise authority over their online and hybrid programs.  Nevertheless, in the interest of standardized quality assurance, the SU-COLP will establish high standards for all online programs.  To this end, the SU-COLP will implement mandated certification training and Quality Matters (QM™) model of peer-to-peer mentoring for all involved faculty.  The SUS utilizes QM™ as an academic model and, consequently, it is anticipated that all faculty teaching online courses will be QM™ certified, and all online courses will be peer-reviewed using the QM™ quality standards for designing online courses.