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Online Course Design Quality Review

The Florida Board of Governor's Online Education 2025 Strategic Plan identifies several strategic goals focused on quality practices. Beginning in 2019, online courses that have completed a course design quality review will be tagged with a Quality designation in the FloridaShines course catalog. The system goal is to increase the number of online courses in the State University System that have a Quality designation. To work toward increasing the number of online courses with a Quality designation, CIRT facilitates two optional levels of course design quality reviews designated as Quality (Q) and High Quality (HQ). Both levels use the nationally recognized, research-based Quality Matters standards for the review of online course design.

 

Quality Matters (QM)

Quality Designations

Course Design Quality Review

Course Design Refresh

Quality Matters logo and quote from Dr. Hager about improving her course

Quality Matters (QM)

UNF is committed to implementing the Quality Matters (QM) standards for the review of online course design, and systematically builds and evaluates online courses based on QM's rigorous, research-based standards. The QM Standards specifically focus on course design, rather than on course delivery or academic content, and assure that the structure of online courses promotes learner engagement and provide students with tools and information they need to be successful learners. A founding principle that continues to drive QM is the need for standards to reflect current academic research on effective learning. The initial QM Standards and subsequent modifications are based on the insights of teams of experienced online instructors and instructional designers and on the best practices standards promulgated by accrediting bodies and national and international organizations. In addition, the QM Standards have been examined for consistency with the conclusions of the educational research literature regarding factors that increase learning and engagement and that improve learner retention rates. Each specific QM Standard is centered on relevant research and supported by literature from the field. For more information, visit what you need to know about QM and QM Promotion Resources.

QM-Certified Reviewers

Critical to UNF’s implementation of Quality Matters is the assistance of QM-Certified faculty members that participate in the course design quality review process at UNF. Any full-time faculty member that has successfully completed a quality review of their own course is eligible to register for the online QM training courses (CIRT will pay fees) to become a certified QM-certified peer reviewer. Visit the Become a QM Certified Peer Reviewer for more information.

 

Quality Designations

The main differences between the two optional levels of online course design reviews designated as Quality (Q) and High Quality (HQ) is in the number of course reviewers and the number of QM standards met. While instructors may opt to participate in either level of review, we encourage instructors to pursue the HQ designation. Both are significant accomplishments that mean a course has been designed to meet rigorous, research-based standards of course design.

 

View list of UNF's QM Reviewed Courses that have successfully completed a course design quality review.

Quality BadgeQuality

Courses designated as Quality (Q) will have been reviewed by the faculty course developer and one certified peer reviewer, met all essential QM Standards, and provided alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.

High Quality BadgeHigh Quality

Courses designated as High Quality (HQ) will have been reviewed by the faculty course developer and two certified peer reviewers, met all essential QM standards, received at least 85% of the available points on the QM Rubric, and provided alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.

 

Course Design Quality Review

To increase quality and accessibility, and reduce barriers to student success, faculty are encouraged to submit their online course(s) for review and receive the HQ designation (see above). Any UNF faculty member may submit his/her course for review; however, only those who have completed the TOL Foundation Course (TOL-TRACK A) and developed their course as part of TOL-DCD or Program Transition are eligible to receive a stipend upon successful completion of the course review process.

 

Note: If you are unsure whether your course meets the criteria for a course review or would like more information about the QM review process, please schedule a consultation with an instructional designer.

How it works?

basic course review cycle

 

Getting Started

  • When your course is ready for review, submit the UNF Course Design Quality Review Form
  • Next, two qm-certified peer reviewers will be assigned to review your course using the QM rubric and will assign an overall score based on whether the course has met or not met the required number of course design quality review standards. The reviewers will also provide helpful recommendations that should lead to measurable revisions to the course. In order for the course to "pass" review on first try, it must meet all 3-point essential QM standards and result in a total overall score of 85 or higher out of 100 points. Note: reviewers will be enrolled in your Sandbox course in order to conduct the review.

 

Course Review, Feedback, and Revisions

  • Within 2-3 weeks, reviewers will submit their scoring sheets and feedback, and if the course does not "pass" on first try, no worries, you will have as many opportunities as required to revise the course. Since you will not have direct access to the scoring sheets, your instructional designer will pass on the review score and feedback to you, and ask for your input on moving forward with making the necessary revisions. Through this continuous improvement process, all courses submitted for review should eventually pass. 

 

Course Meets Quality Expectations

  • In order for a course to pass review and earn the HQ designation, it must meet all essential QM standards, receive at least 85% of the available points on the QM Rubric, and provide alternative means of access to all course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners (i.e., meets accessibility guidelines throughout the course).
  • Upon successful completion of the course review, you will receive a $2000 stipend and the course will be listed on UNF's QM Reviewed Courses with a HQ designation.

 

Course Design Refresh

Has it been five years since your course successfully completed a course design quality review? If so, your course is eligible for a Course Design Refresh (CDR). Any course listed on UNF's QM Reviewed Courses page is eligible for a CDR after five years or within a five-year period if course modifications have been approved by the university Academic Programs Committee (APC). This policy is based on the assertion that within a five-year period, most online courses will have likely undergone major changes due to technology enhancement, newer instructional materials, and changes to course design.

 

In some cases, the CDR process can be started earlier than five years if certain criteria are met. Here are some circumstances in which a course might be considered for a CDR early:

  • Course is set to be delivered the following semester and starting a few months early would benefit the instructor and students.
  • Course will not be taught again for another year, which would put the course at six years or more since it was last reviewed.

Note: In order to be eligible for a CDR stipend, you must be the same instructor that originally developed that course. If you are a new instructor for that particular course, you should apply for TOL-DCD. If you are unsure whether your course meets the criteria for a course refresh, please schedule a consultation with an instructional designer.

How it works?

  • When your course is ready for a refresh, complete the online application. You will also need to secure your chair’s approval to offer the course in a distance learning format during the next academic year. Download the Chair Approval Form and have it signed by the academic department chair and returned to CIRT by email to cirtlab@unf.edu or by campus mail to Christie Ellis, CIRT, 10/1150.
  • Once your application has been verified, you will be contacted by a member of the instructional design team to start the process of getting your online course ready for another course design quality review (same process described above).
  • Upon successful completion of a course design refresh, you will receive a $1000 stipend and the course will be updated on UNF's QM Reviewed Courses with a new completion date and HQ designation.

 

 

For questions about UNF's online course design quality review process, contact kevin.hulen@unf.edu