Understanding the Quality Matters Rubric

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At 2:00pm On 11/10/16 I attended Understanding the Quality Matters Rubric by Geni Wright at the 2016 USCA NDLW Virtual Conference.

Understanding the Quality Matters Rubric

Quality Matters is a non-profit organization that provides professional development for instructional designers and faculty implementing online and blended courses. As the Quality Matters Coordinator for Lake-Sumter State College, Geni’s responsible for quality assurance of online and blended courses using the Quality Matters Rubric consisting of 8 General Standards and 43 Specific Standards. This workshop introduced the Quality Matters Rubric and how to use it for faculty and course development.

Preparing Your Course for QM Review

The information in this guide can put your course well on its way to being prepared for Quality Matters certification.


An assessment must always measure the stated learning objectives. Assignments should
encourage active learning by allowing learners demonstrate their mastery of an objective
by performing the skill learned in the objective. Assessments should be varied and
sequenced (students only use skills they’ve already learned). Optional assignments must
be clearly marked as such.

All course and module objectives should be measurable. The unit objectives and the
course objectives must support the same outcome. Module objectives must be achieved by
assignments in that module. Non-native speakers must be able to understand the objective
and its outcome. No jargon, unexplained terminology, or unnecessarily complex language
should be present.

Learning Materials
Include a variety of instructional materials to accommodate different types of learners.
Include an explanation regarding the purpose of the learning materials (textbook, thirdparty
resources, technologies, learning activities) and what order to do them in (usually an
assignment list). The purpose of some materials, such as textbook readings, may be selfevident
and do not require explanation. Include all types of interaction: instructor-learner
interaction (assignment feedback, Collaborate, instructor posts in discussions, FAQ, etc.),
learner-learner interaction (discussions, group projects, peer reviews, etc.), and learnercontent
interaction (textbook readings, scientific and/or professional articles/journals, etc.).

Syllabus & Policies
The syllabus should clearly indicate the modality of the course (online, hybrid, etc.).
The syllabus should clearly indicate the modes of communication utilized in the course
(email, Blackboard messaging, Collaborate, etc.). Include a comprehensive “Methods
of Evaluation” in the Syllabus & Policies section listing all assignments grouped by point

Include an orientation discussion post for students to introduce themselves to their
classmates. The instructor may post their own bio/introduction here. Include an explanation
of the minimum technical skills required for the course. This means any skills needed to
use all course tools and features as well as operate any required hardware.

Course Building Checklist – High-priority items for improving a course

  • Course description from the course catalog on the Home page
  • Course Link to the Getting Started unit on the Home page
  • List of the prerequisite courses on the Home page
  • Course navigation information in the Getting Started unit
  • Comprehensive course calendar
  • Academic integrity and late work submission policies in the syllabus
  • Item explaining how long it will take to receive a response from the instructor
  • List of citations for resources in the course taken from third-party sources
  • Info regarding how often students should check the course for announcements, requirements for assignments, for contacting instructor, etc.
  • Opportunities for students to track their progress. Practice assignments, instructor feedback, peer reviews (graded or not), model essays, examples, journals, reflection papers
  • Instructor Info page, including a short bio, photograph, contact info, office hours, collaborate room/virtual office, etc
  • Rubric attached to every assignment. Rubrics must align with course objectives. A copy of each rubric should be available in the Rubrics folder in Syllabus & Policies
  • Instructor Info page, including a short bio, photograph, contact info, office hours, collaborate room/virtual office, etc.

Accessibility Checklist – Essential to ensure ADA compliance

  • Captions and/or transcripts for all videos
  • Alt tags for images. Decorative images do not require alt tags
  • Links to accessibility statements for all software and resources. For resources
    that do not have an accessibility statement available, write a notice explaining
    that it does not

  • Links to privacy policies and support pages for all software and resources
  • Link to your Help Desk website in the Syllabus & Policies folder
  • Link to your Disability Services website in the Syllabus & Policies folder
  • Item explaining Netiquette expectations in the Syllabus & Policies folder
  • Instructions for obtaining all required software. Links to alternative software if primary software does not support multiple operating systems
  • List of all the technology a student will need to attain to take the course. This includes publisher materials. Provide instructions for attaining, installing, and using the technologies

This was some great information, but again, this follows our EPIC material in most places, and falls short in others. I can really see how we have incorporated the Quality Matters (QM) material here and expanded upon it to create some really fantastic infrastructure and material. I am just more and more impressed the more professional development I cover.

Developing Faculty Mentors: The Low-Stress Option To Faculty Training

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At 10:00am On 11/10/16 I attended Developing Faculty Mentors: The Low-Stress Option To Faculty Training presented by Geni Wright at the 2016 USCA NDLW Virtual Conference.

Developing Faculty Mentors: The Low-Stress Option To Faculty Training

In her presentation, Geni Wright spoke on how developing faculty mentors modeling best practices for online and blended courses is an excellent resource for new and established faculty. Faculty mentors provide a long-term training strategy that is both cost-effective and user-friendly. Faculty are often more receptive to fellow faculty suggestions for course revisions providing collaboration opportunities and development of future training modules based on common concerns and trends. Faculty mentors have the additional benefit of ongoing professional development, interdepartmental interaction, and are often included in the planning and training for early adopters of newly adopted technology at the institution.

This discussion had no slide deck, so it seemed more like a free-flowing presentation with some off-the-cuff thoughts on the way through. Main topics were folded into:

  • Opportunities to enhance faculty training
  • The need for more effective peer to peer training
  • A way for faculty to model universal design in online and blended courses

Geni Wright discussed that her school contains only 175 faculty members at her school, and this required a team of 3 faculty members and a growing system requiring 1 faculty mentor per department moving forward. Faculty chosen for these mentor positions are ones using the universal design theories and practices in their classes. We need the faculty to facilitate and participate in the program are the ones who are showing the best use in their classrooms.

As a school which participates in Quality Matters (QM), faculty mentors participate in an internal peer review process to assist faculty in alignment for initial quality matters pre-review. Quality matters at their school is voluntary. I found this to be surprising. It calls to mind the idea that schools of small sizes have a lot to offer, but not always what is needed for larger schools. Granted, this goes both ways.

Moving into the latter portion of the session, the speaker discussed accessibility and objectives- issues we have covered heavily in our QM training here on campus, and moved into with EPIC. I was EXTREMELY surprised to find out how many schools are NOT ADA section 508 compliant with accessibility.

Some of this was not useful. A major improvement discussed was the use of Starfish, a faculty student evaluation tool, but the speaker mentioned that many teachers at her college were not aware of how to use the blackboard gradebook, and not all teachers did use it. This was extremely disheartening. However, not everyone can be the best, so there was a good deal to learn overall, just not a lot of it was for me.