Quality is King!

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In my coursework this week, we are focusing on instructional design for online courses.   We are debating the merits of different methods and instructional strategies.   We are identifying resources for learning objects and comparing the similarities and differences between face to face teaching to online teaching.  The discussions have been valuable and I have learned much.

But after all of the discussion, a good course is created when a teacher along with others takes a hard look at a course and asks the tough questions.   What elements am I missing?   Are my learning objectives aligned with my activities?   Are my instructions clear?   Am I really measuring my learning objectives?  How do I know learning has occurred?

One of our faculty members, Mary Bennett (an expert in online learning) has pointed me to an organization that is helping teachers/faculty ask those hard questions about their online coursework.   Below is information that she shared at a recent conference on our campus …

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Quality Matters (QM) is now a nationally recognized, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. Colleges and universities across the country use the tools in developing, maintaining and reviewing their online courses and in training their faculty.

The credibility, reliability, and strength of QM process stems from three core features of the project:

  • A process has been created that has been vetted by faculty experts.
  • All review criteria and the extensive Quality Matters rubric are based on solid research literature, eleven national standards of best practice, and instructional design principles.
  • Participation by faculty, instructional designers, and institutions is voluntary, collaborative, and supportive.

Quality Matters: The Process

A team of three peer reviewers is trained to use the QM Rubric to review the quality of each online course. The rubric consists of 40 weighted review elements shown in the research literature to positively impact student learning. Each review team includes one content expert and at least one member from an institution other than the course’s home institution. Review team members work both individually and collaboratively, and in communication with the faculty member who developed the course. The reviewers provide feedback on the exceptional elements of the course, and provide positive recommendations for improving the course.

The backbone of the Quality Matters Rubric, and another aspect of its strength, lies in the integration of review elements that touch upon learning objectives, assessments, and activities. Through this integrated approach, faculty reviewers take a holistic view of the course design. For example, reviewers are asked to consider whether the assessments and activities are indeed driven by the learning objectives. Even if a course clearly states learning objectives, the course cannot meet the stated criteria unless those learning objectives are clearly linked to assessments and activities.

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So … what do you think?   Share with us the processes at your school for determining quality coursework.

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