student working watch a lecture on a laptop

Focusing on Student Needs Makes Online Learning Accessible

The University of Arizona's, Luis Carrión, discusses how putting students' needs first in developing online learning makes for an accessible and engaging environment.

Recently, we introduced you to the Arizona Online team, and in the past, you've met some of our incredible student advisors

Meet another outstanding team member: Luis Carrión. Carrión is a Lead Producer and Videographer in the Office of Digital Learning, the University of Arizona's premier hub for online higher education programs and online learning tools.

Carrión is an award-winning producer/videographer and has received eight regional Emmy Awards for his video productions! Carrión focuses on presenting complex academic subject matter in an accessible and engaging way. Let's learn more about Carrión's role at Arizona Online.

Arizona Online: What are the essential aspects of student-centered learning, in your opinion?

Carrión: Student-centered learning is an exciting concept for online education. We strive to put the students' needs first when we think of how to introduce diverse content into the online learning space.

Online courses connect with students differently than in-person courses, and meeting their specific needs is essential to ensure a more positive learner/instructor partnership. For instance, online students often manage busy lives; they might have young children, work a full-time job, and have other responsibilities. Recording an hour-long lecture in the classroom might not translate well for a student who, by necessity, engages with the course content in shorter periods.

Arizona Online: How do you work with instructors to create compelling, engaging, and accessible online courses for Arizona Online?

Carrión: At The University Center for Assessment, Teaching and Technology (UCATT) Multimedia, we combine pedagogically-supported online course design with professional multimedia production to create engaging educational content. This maximizes the course materials' impact and improves the learning experience.

We meet with each instructor to discuss their course objectives and learning outcomes. We also take the time to understand their research and background so that we can tell their story in the online classroom. That initial consultation or pre-planning meeting allows us to determine how we can effectively use video and multimedia for the course content.

Luis Carrion

Luis Carrión

Noam Chomsky recording a lecture

Noam Chomsky recording a lecture

Arizona Online: What is Quality Matters, and why is it important?

Carrión: The University has been using the Quality Matters Rubric since 2009. Quality Matters (QM) is a national organization that created a peer review process assisting in measuring and improving the quality of online courses. QM developed a rubric and a peer review process for faculty to engage with and learn about best practices for creating effective online learning environments.

Our team of videographers benefits from faculty who have been through the QM process by ensuring good solid course design. The objective is to make the courses easier to navigate and reduce potential barriers to achievement through the alignment of outcomes, activities and assessments. 

We base our course creation on the QM rubric and after a course has been taught twice it is eligible to participate in the QM review process.

Arizona Online: In your opinion, what sets Arizona Online accredited online courses apart in a crowded online learning ecosystem?

Carrión: From the very inception of Arizona Online, the goal has been to capitalize on the depth and breadth of our campus offerings and make them accessible to our online students. We strive to continuously improve how we educate and innovate so we can lead the way in developing adaptive problem-solvers capable of tackling our most significant challenges.

Our Arizona Online degrees are the same exact degrees our on-campus students receive. However, delivering academic degrees online allows us to democratize and expand educational opportunities beyond the physical campus.

Arizona Online: What are some cool new technologies in the works for online learning?

Carrión: We're always looking forward to new opportunities in the online modality. We've started developing virtual and augmented reality projects with our campus partners and are already experimenting with ways to create a more innovative and engaging experience for our students.

We know that our online students feel comfortable with technology, so we look for ways to connect and create learning/teacher partnerships that innovate and leverage our students' inherent technological interests and needs.

Luis Carrion filming in the Center for Creative Photography

Digital Learning’s Luis Carrión works with Daphne Srinivasan to capture video for her History of Photography course. Daphne and Luis are interviewing Rebecca Senf, Chief Curator at the Center for Creative Photography. Field productions are mini documentaries, and can be an effective way to provide students with a “virtual field trip” experience.