"A national benchmark for online course
Quality Matters is a not-for-profit
subscription service that provides a rubric and a process that academic
institutions use for quality assurance and continuous improvement of online
courses. The QM process is a collegial, faculty-driven, research-based
peer review process based on a rubric consisting of 8 general standards and 40
specific standards that are nationally recognized as reflecting a shared
understanding of quality in online and hybrid course design. The rubric
standards and research that support them can be found here.
Institutions of higher education throughout
the United States and internationally have subscribed to the Quality Matters
rubric and services in an effort to assure quality and continuous improvement
in their online education offerings. There are over 30 institutions
participating in Florida, alone. A complete list of the over 400 subscribers in
higher education can be found here.
An institution or a statewide consortium
subscribes to Quality Matters for an annual fee depending on the individual
needs of the institution. This gives the subscribing institution's faculty and
staff access to an automated, web-based Quality Matters rubric for reviewing
online courses, the ability to conduct official course reviews and QM
recognition (a seal) for those courses that meet standards, discounts on (or
free seats in) QM training, and access to private web resources.
The Quality Matters approach to quality
assurance in online courses is unique in that it emphasizes a collegial,
peer-based review process in which the faculty course designer is a part of the
review team. A course is never described as having "failed" a review;
it is always "in the process of meeting standards" and is described
as such until it meets the QM rubric standards at a rate of 85% or better.
The QM rubric and process is also unique in that it is diagnostic (not
evaluative or judgmental) and focuses solely on online course design and not on
course delivery. The QM standards are centered on the best practices in
instructional design and online learning according to the most current research
literature. The underlying principles of Quality Matters can be found here.
The cost to the institution of the privilege
of using a rubric that may seem to be based on common sense and "what
everyone already knows about best practices in instructional design and online
learning" may seem excessive to some. However, the use of the rubric
is a demonstration to stakeholders the investment in and concern for quality in
Another possible problem that may occur with
a prescribed set of standards is a potential for a sense of infringement on
academic freedom, particularly in the form of course design creativity.
The number of subscribers to Quality Matters
continues to grow, and it appears that the QM seal will become more broadly
recognized on online courses that have met this gold standard in distance
education. There are a number of new developments emerging from the
Quality Matters organization which include the following:
The principles and standards embodied in the
Quality Matters rubric and process are based on research that indicates that
certain elements of course design, if implemented correctly, will have the
following effect on teaching and learning:
Quality Matters processes benefit both individual faculty members and their institutions in the following ways:
Want to learn more?
What you need to know about Quality Matters
How will UNF benefit?
List of UNF's QM Reviewed Courses
List of UNF's QM Certified Peer Reviewers
Become a QM Certified Peer Reviewer
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