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New Directions for the Quality Matters Program


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From its beginnings as a quality assurance tool for online course design, the Quality Matters Program is evolving to address a broader range of online learning quality assurance and faculty development issues.

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New Directions for the Quality Matters Program

  1. 1. New Directions for the Quality Matters Program Ron Legon, Executive Director Deb Adair, Director Sloan-C International Conference Oct. 29, 2009 Inter-Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning © MarylandOnline, Inc., 2009. All rights reserved.
  2. 2. Presentation Agenda <ul><ul><li>Quality Matters Today </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New Challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QM Research Agenda </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QM Implementation Plan Recognition </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>K-12 Rubric </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>QM Program Audits/ Reviews </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Q & A </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Quality Matters Today
  4. 4. “ Quality Matters: Inter-Institutional Quality Assurance in Online Learning” <ul><li>Quality Matters is a not-for-profit subscription service providing tools and training for quality assurance of online courses </li></ul><ul><li>Developed by MarylandOnline with funding from FIPSE, it was designed by faculty for faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Adopted by a large and broad user base, QM represents a shared understanding of quality in online course design </li></ul>
  5. 5. The QM Approach <ul><li>The QM toolset and process </li></ul><ul><li>A faculty-driven, peer review process that is… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>C ollaborative </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C ollegial </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>C ontinuous </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>C entered - in academic foundation </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>- around student learning </li></ul></ul></ul>
  6. 6. Current QM Applications <ul><li>A set of standards (rubric) for the design of online and hybrid courses </li></ul><ul><li>A peer review process (faculty to faculty) for reviewing and improving online and hybrid courses </li></ul><ul><li>A faculty support tool used by instructional development staff </li></ul><ul><li>A professional development opportunity </li></ul>
  7. 7. QM: A National Standard <ul><ul><li>370 + current subscribers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>41 states represented </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>12 statewide systems; 5 large consortium </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>International presence (Canada and Bermuda) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>5000+ faculty and instructional design staff have been formally trained </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Award winning program </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. QM under FIPSE v QM Today <ul><li>FIPSE GRANT 03-06 </li></ul><ul><li>QM 3 YEARS LATER </li></ul>Funding Grant Subscriptions & fees Members 19 MOL schools at launch 370+ across US & abroad Tool Development Lit Review & COP Lit review, COP, users, QMAAC & research Rubric 2004 & 2005 editions 06/07, 08-10, K-12 editions Trainings 3 for implementation 10 including faculty development trainings Trainees: Reviews: 694 111 >5000 434 (official) Focus Course review Courses, faculty devel. & institutional improvement
  10. 10. New Challenges
  11. 11. Meeting the Needs of an Expanding Subscriber Base <ul><li>Demand for greater variety of QM-related experiences </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Greater Flexibility </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Empowerment of Subscribers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long Range Planning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Improved Tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>More Workshops </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Networking Opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conferences </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Publications </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Heightened Concern with Quality Assurance <ul><li>Legitimate Programs Jostling with Diploma Mills </li></ul><ul><li>Regionals Paying More Attention to Online Quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Middle States requires distance learning expertise on site visiting teams (2009) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Federal Higher Education Opportunity Act (2008) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires national accrediting agencies to </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstrate their standards for evaluating program quality </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Create review teams that are well trained and knowledgeable regarding distance ed. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Requires National Research Council to compare quality of distance education with campus-based courses (unfunded) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Department of Education Meta-Study (2009) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More studies to come! </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Rising Interest from Other Sectors of Online Learning Community <ul><li>Rapid growth of online learning in other sectors increases interest in and demand for quality assurance: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>K-12 Education </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Continuing Education (credit and non-credit) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training Industry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ASP Providers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learning Management System Providers </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. New Tools and Paradigms <ul><li>Continued development of new technology increases challenges to design standards </li></ul><ul><ul><li>New ways to access online learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Ipods, Smartphones, Netbooks, Ebooks, etc. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New software to build online learning </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Enhancements to existing LMS’s </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Open Source Tools </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Web 2.0 Social Sites </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>What’s Next… Google Wave? </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Quality Matters must be creative to keep pace </li></ul>
  15. 15. QM Research Agenda
  16. 16. QM sponsored research Sharing of user impact data Research Agenda: IMPACT
  17. 17. Research To Date <ul><li>Impact on Faculty Developers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing data collection by QM </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Impact on Peer Course Reviewers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing data collection by QM </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Impact on Student Learning Outcomes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Independent research projects focused on specific rubric standards. (Exception: Aman, 2009, found potential effect of QM adoption on student satisfaction) </li></ul></ul>
  18. 18. QM Sponsored Research FY10 <ul><li>QM Standard 8 (Accessibility) Pilot Project (Bowen, Dallas TeleCollege TX) [Student voice re accessibility] </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of 67 QM-Trained Faculty on Large, Multi-Campus Organization (Diaz, Maricopa Community Colleges, Tempe AZ) </li></ul><ul><li>The Impact of QM Standards on Learning Experiences in Online Courses. (Knowles, Park University, MO) </li></ul><ul><li>QM Rubric as ‘Teaching Presence’: Application of Community of Inquiry Framework to Analysis of the QM Rubric’s Effects of Student Learning (Hall, Delgado Community College, Metairie LA) </li></ul><ul><li>Linking Course Design to Learning Processes Using the Quality Matters and Community of Inquiry Frameworks (Swan, University of Illinois/Springfield) </li></ul>
  19. 19. IMPACT: Research & Best Practice <ul><li>2 nd Annual QM Conference : “Improving Outcomes through Quality Standards” (Chicago, June 11-13 th ) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Presentation of QM-sponsored Research projects </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sessions focused on presentation of positive outcomes by QM subscribers and participants </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conference serves as forum for the aggregate of best practices on quality IMProvements and ACTions to implement those improvements. </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. QM Implementation Plans
  21. 21. QM Subscribers Plan Ahead <ul><li>Engagement with QM is a long-term commitment </li></ul><ul><li>QM’s spread through a school can be a slow process: </li></ul><ul><li>Resource availability for full implementation of QM may not be available in the short run </li></ul><ul><li>QM should be integrated into the school’s strategic planning process </li></ul>
  22. 22. Schools Seek to Assure Stakeholders of Commitment to Quality <ul><li>QM’s seal may be displayed on a reviewed course </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But this may not be visible to the public, or even to non-enrolled students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>QM subscribers asked for ways to publicly announce their commitment to QM standards for all their courses </li></ul><ul><li>QM’s response: Recognition of Impelementation Plans </li></ul>
  23. 23. QM Implementation Plan Process <ul><li>QM staff work with a school to develop a plan </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimum 3 year timeframe </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>May be institution-wide, or limited by program </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Conditioned by school’s goals and resources </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Endorsed by institutional leadership </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Plan submitted to the QM Academic Advisory Council for review and approval </li></ul><ul><li>Once approved, the school must report progress annually </li></ul><ul><li>School may display special seal: and statement on their commitment to QM standards </li></ul>
  24. 24. K-12 Rubric
  25. 25. “ Why can’t we use QM in K-12?” <ul><li>We heard this question for years </li></ul><ul><li>Many elements of the QM Rubric are relevant to K-12 </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But there are also many differences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>QM needed a partner in K-12 to tackle this challenge </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The Florida Virtual School </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Leading state virtual school </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Exports courses to many other states </li></ul></ul></ul>
  26. 26. Process to Develop a Rubric for K-12 Course Design <ul><li>Joint steering committee established </li></ul><ul><li>Fit / Gap analysis of current QM Rubric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>3 FLVS courses reviewed by two joint teams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Majority of standards fit middle and high school </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Some critical issues in K-12 were not addressed </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Annotations did not speak to K-12 </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Decision to move ahead with Grades 6-12 Rubric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Joint working group appointed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>7 month process to perfect the new rubric </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beta testing in November/December 2009 </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Release of Grades 6-12 Rubric in early 2010 </li></ul>
  27. 27. Key Elements in Grades 6-12 Rubric <ul><li>Compliance with state standards </li></ul><ul><li>Protection of student privacy </li></ul><ul><li>Incorporation of 21st Century Skills </li></ul><ul><li>Attention to student reading level </li></ul><ul><li>Increased emphasis on </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Netiquette </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Integrity </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Self-check activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Resulted in 100 point standard </li></ul>
  28. 28. Online Learner’s Bill of Right s ©
  29. 29. Quality Matters’ Online Learner Bill of Rights© <ul><li>Students value the QM standards </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Studies by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Rick Aman (College of Western Idaho) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Penny Ralston-Berg (Penn State) </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ralston-Berg study translates the language of the rubric into statements students would understand: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The self-introduction by the instructor is appropriate” --> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ The instructor introduces her or himself” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Major Conclusion: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>High Correlation between Quality Matters standards and student’ concerns about online learning </li></ul></ul>
  30. 30. Next Steps in Development of Online Learner’s Bill of Rights <ul><li>Further testing of student attitudes </li></ul><ul><li>Seek institutional pledges to honor these practices </li></ul><ul><li>E.g., </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Online learners have a right to feedback on their graded assignments” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Online learners have a right to know the purpose of each major assignment” </li></ul></ul>
  31. 31. QM Program Audits/Reviews
  32. 32. Schools Seek External Validation of their Online Quality <ul><li>Many schools look for ways to validate their online programs </li></ul><ul><ul><li>To distinguish themselves from diploma mills </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To answer skeptical stakeholders - dwindling, but still powerful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To improve mission-critical online programs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To recruit increasingly sophisticated students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>QM’s course reviews and implementation plan recognition are partial responses, but schools seek more… </li></ul>
  33. 33. Sources of Standards <ul><li>The Quality Matters Rubric </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Implicit in the rubric are expectations of the institution that go far beyond course design, e.g., </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Technology infrastructure </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty training </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Student support services </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>CHEA and regional accreditors’ best practices </li></ul><ul><li>Association recommendations - Sloan-C, ITC, WCET, iNACOL, etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Research on effectiveness of distance learning </li></ul><ul><li>QM Academic Advisory Council </li></ul>
  34. 34. QM Audit/Review Standards & Process <ul><li>Standards cover </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Institutional Commitment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching and Learning Standards </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Faculty Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Learner Support </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Ongoing Evaluation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Process includes </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Self study </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Committee Review </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>One-day site visit </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Report - Institutional Response - Final Report & Recommendations </li></ul></ul>
  35. 35. Next Steps <ul><li>Beta testing on several volunteer schools </li></ul><ul><li>Survey of QM subscribers to determine </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Level of interest </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pricing </li></ul></ul>
  36. 36. Looking Beyond
  37. 37. Many Challenges Ahead <ul><li>Keeping our rubrics current and relevant </li></ul><ul><li>Supplying the changing needs of subscribers </li></ul><ul><li>Looking at needs elsewhere in distance learning </li></ul><ul><li>Forming strategic alliances with other organizations devoted to the advance of distance learning </li></ul><ul><li>Exporting the Quality Matters approach </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond the U.S. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Beyond distance learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Others we can’t forsee…. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Questions and Comments
  39. 39. Thanks to YOU… Quality Matters! Sloan-C International Conference Oct. 29, 2009 © MarylandOnline, Inc., 2009. All rights reserved.