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Conferences, cybersalon

Quality Matters for Online Course Design


Saturday afternoon, I attended a pre-conference session called “Improving Your Online Course” taught by Jean Runyon, Dean of the Virtual Campus at Anne Arundel Community College. The purpose of the session was to introduce participants to the Quality Matters rubric for online course design and to apply that rubric to a course to determine needed areas for improvement.

The QM rubric and materials are copyrighted so I can’t share a lot of detailed information here, but I can say a couple of general things. First, the rubric deals only with the course design aspect of online learning and not the delivery or other facets. Second, the rubric is a faculty-driven process and is not designed to be part of a faculty evaluation process in any way. And, third, the rubric really does lend itself more to use in a traditional LMS but I COULD see it applied in more “open-web” type environments (more on that in another post).

I am familiar with the QM rubric having gone through several trainings and having acted as a reviewer for mathematics courses several times. However, I have never actually taken the time to step through item-by-item and evaluate my own courses using the rubric. This workshop was not the time and place to do a thorough review, but it did take us through the critical criteria and provide explanations and examples.

Some reminders to myself if I submit a course for review in the near future:

  • When setting up a course for review, only give access to a shell and not a live course. All the info should be in the shell since delivery is not being evaluated.
  • If info is not in the shell for some reason, it can be provided through samples (emails, class announcements, etc..) via the Instructor Worksheet
  • When making adjustments to a course, one of the critical areas of improvement is in the alignment of course and module objectives with the learning materials, technologies, and assignments, and assessments. ALWAYS a good idea to make sure these match up in your course
  • QM is evaluated at the 85% success level for “certification” and courses that do not “make it” are considered to be “in progress” not “failures”.

Thank you to Jean Runyon for facilitating this learning experience and for Trinity River Campus for hosting it.

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