SLOAN-C: Quality Matters: An Overview

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On April 23, 2010


UPDATE: Quality Matters was one of several presentations at this webinar series provided courtesy of Sloan-C. Although Quality Matters has worked with Sloan-C in the past, it is a separate organization and not actually a part of Sloan-C. Quality Matters has asked us to clarify this point. Now back to the regularly scheduled post about Quality Matters:

Quality Matters is a set of standards for online and blended courses.  It is a peer-to-peer process for reviewing courses and sharing know how.  It can be used for faculty and staff development.  But it is ultimately about assuring quality online learning opportunities for students.

The value of adopting Quality Matters is to improve online and blended course quality.  It helps to stimulate a campus dialog among faculty and instructional development staff on best practices in online instruction.  Quality Matters can help build a campus culture dedicated to the continuous improvement of online learning at the institutional level.  It becomes integrated into the culture that drives quality instruction on the campus.  It is also a mechanism to share with the community of learners that the institution cares about delivering quality courses in online and blended formats.

There are 8 general areas in the Quality Matters Rubric.

  1. The Course Overview and Introduction -What do students first see when they log in to the course?
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies) – Measurable that forms the structure of the course
  3. Assessment and Measurement – What tools are you using to measure student learning?
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Engagement – The more the students are engaged, the better they do in the online environment.
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

40 Specific Standards with extensive annotation can be found under the 8 general areas. Each standard has a point associated with it which helps to evaluate or score a course to determine where it fits on this rubric.  72 is considered to be a necessary for a quality course.

  • 17 Essential – all of these standards have to be met to be a quality course
  • 11 Very Important Standards
  • 12 Important Standards

There should ultimately be a course plan in order to map out the online components and face-to-face components to ensure that both are “mutually reinforcing”. This course plan should be clear and easy for students to understand and follow.

Courses don’t have to be perfect but Quality Matters aims at better than just “good enough”.  The Quality Matters toolset is based on national standards of best practice, the research literature and instructional design principles that are designed to promote student learning. The goal is to encourage the continuous improvement based on quality standards.

Quality Matters wants to encourage a continuous cycle of improvement.  It doesn’t want anyone to think of a course, once developed, as being in the can.  A course should face review and tweaking each semester.

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On April 23, 2010. Posted in Blended Learning, SLOAN-C, Teaching Strategies