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.


Changing Course Design: Building and Ensuring Quality Driven Courses

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At 9:00am On 11/7/16 I attended Changing Course Design: Building and Ensuring Quality Driven Courses presented by The opening Keynote Speaker Dr. Ryan Rucker at the 2016 USCA NDLW Virtual Conference.

Opening Keynote: Changing Course Design: Building and Ensuring Quality Driven Courses



This was really a very interesting start to the online conference. In fact, I’ve never really been part of an online conference in this manner before, so it was a great opportunity.

kewynote-ryan_ruckerDr. Ryan Ruckery Dr. Ryan Rucker is an instructor within the Department of Information Systems Technology at MTC. He has been teaching face-to-face and online computer networking/programming courses at various universities and colleges since June 2011. In addition, he has worked for over eight years in the information and educational technology fields. These positions include: Desktop Support Technician (USC), Instructional Systems Analyst (Georgia Regents University), Technical Trainer (SCDOT), and Senior Instructional Designer (USC). Dr. Rucker’s primary research interests involve technology adoption and investigating best practices in the online classroom.

In his opening remarks, Dr. Ryan Rucker lead with a fantastic statement: “Building quality driven courses is a major objective that many universities and colleges are requiring faculty and staff members to effectively implement.” How we got there was a mutlipart journey in which many schools took many approaches and more often than not ended with schools experiencing “implementation fatigue” with many ideas started, and few completed.

It is imperative for all university/college personnel to recognize that delivering up-to-date online courses will enhance the overall quality, scope, and reach of higher education. To ensure that a quality learning experience is provided to all learners, most universities/colleges have integrated the research-based Quality Matters (QM) rubric and review process as the underlining framework. While Quality Matters is a difficult thing for many schools to undertake, the benefits can be enormous. The Keynote investigated best practices and tips for faculty members and instructional designers/support staff who are considering developing new or enhancing current online courses. We also reviewed the QM standards and provide samples of effective assignments that can be easily implemented.

At Wake Technical Community College, the Quality Matters program was used as a stepping stone for the implementation of our own EPIC system. We’ve been through many of these processes, so I understand how difficult it can be to work through.