Brief Introduction to the Quality Matters(TM) Program
The Quality Matters(TM)
Program began as a FIPSE funded project awarded to MarylandOnline, a consortium
of 19 Maryland community colleges and four year
institutions that collaborate in delivering online education. The goal
was to develop a research-based set of standards (or rubric) for the design of
online courses and a peer review, continuous improvement process for evaluating
whether courses meet these standards.
the three-year span of the grant, these goals were achieved and exceeded.
A forty standard rubric was developed, including fourteen essential
standards. These standards cover eight areas:
- Course Overview and Introduction
- Learning Objectives (Competencies)
- Assessment and Measurement
- Resources and Materials
- Learner Interaction
- Course Technology
- Learner Support
standards stress consistency and alignment of the major components of the
course, i.e., that the materials, assignments, interactions, assessments, and
technology all are clearly linked to the stated learning
objectives. Recently, a second version of the rubric has been
developed that addresses the issues of the hybrid course.
peer review system has been perfected in which courses are evaluated
by teams of three faculty members, at least one of whom is from a different
institution. The review team communicates directly with the course
developer(s) and the goal is not to pass or fail individual courses, but to
assist instructors to improve their courses to meet these widely accepted
standards of good practice.
reviewers go through a training process that not only qualifies them to
participate in these course reviews, but increases their appreciation of
elements of course design that enhance their own online course design, and
delivery skills. More that 700 faculty, representing 28 states and over
150 institutions, have received Quality Matters peer reviewer training, and
hundreds more have been exposed to the QM principles through other workshops.
project received several national awards in 2005, the WCET Outstanding Work
(WOW) Award, and the USDLA 21st Century Best Practices Award, and successfully
collaborated with the Information Technology Council and the Sloan -
With the expiration of the grant in August 2006, MarylandOnline has made a
commitment to sustain the Quality Matters movement through a not-for-profit
initiative based on institutional subscriptions and fee-for-service training
and course review. The goal is to establish the use of the Quality
Matters Rubric as a widely recognized method of assuring the quality of online
(and hybrid) courses and an integral part of an overall quality assurance
process for online education.
the early positive responses to this new venture come from statewide and
regional consortia (Dallas TeleCollege, Kentucky Virtual University, North
Dakota University System Online, Oregon Distance Learning Consortium, South
Dakota Board of Regents, Tennessee Board of Regents, University System of
Maryland and Wyoming Distance Learning Consortium) and a wide variety of
individual institutions, e.g., Penn State World Campus, Texas Tech, and the
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, the University of Wisconsin -
Whitewater, Metropolitan CC - Kansas City, Pierce College, Friends University,
Park University and Baker College Online.