Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Quality Matters on The Eighth Floor

Have you heard of Quality Matters? That’s okay, many have not. If you teach online or think you might be teaching online or work with people who teach online or do absolutely anything to do with anything teaching online – you definitely will be hearing about it.

Quality Matters is a nationally recognized program that is designed to certify that online and blended courses meet researched design standards as defined by the QM Rubric.  

Mere Mortal English Translation: These people got a wicked big grant and did a lot of research and came up with some design standards that can be used to build and shape online courses – to make them work really good. They created a rubric that is periodically updated to make the whole process easier. . What I like is that this process is faculty/peer-centered – meaning the conversations and evaluations come from your peers. This is not an evaluation of the teacher or teaching methods. This is a set of standards we can apply to the design of online courses. The focus is on alignment of learning objectives with activities and assessment. Additionally, I don’t feel that the rubric crushes creativity, individuality, or spontaneity. Double additionally, schools can evaluate classes internally or invite external QM trained peer-reviewers for a stamp of approval from QM.  I’m a fan!

Until recently Quality Matters has focused primarily on Higher Ed. There is now a Grades 6-12 Rubric. . As more and more K-12 schools offer online alternatives and standards based classes, this is available none too soon.

Through the Eighth Floor, I work with many of the Higher Ed and K-12 institutions in the Tulsa area. As online teaching and learning grow out of the early years, I see these institutions now looking for ways to find consistency online and a set of standards that will hopefully improve learning and retention. This is a struggle similar to face-to-face classes, but the online environment presents as many unique challenges and it does unique opportunities. We have learned that we can’t teach exactly the same way online that we teach F2F. The same goes for best practices in course design. We had to come up with a new way to look at online classes that guarantees more successful.

So . . . in rides the Quality Matters gang on their gleaming white rubrics. Yeehaw! I jest, but the reality is they really are almost super heroes. I have been running across this QM Rubric for years – encountered it in several courses I have taken in my quest to know more about the online world and have included it at a certain level in the Online Learning Series. The more I know about it, the more it makes sense to me. By the end of this month, I hope to be a certified QM trainer. I say “I hope” because the courses for trainers are HARD and not for the casual learner, not even a little bit.

This begs the question, why am I even getting certified . . . and I hope you are also asking what this has to do with you? There is now a growing statewide Quality Matters consortium here in Oklahoma, started by Dr. Dana Lindon-Burgett from Rose State – you may remember Dana as one of the facilitators in the Online Learning Series here on The Eighth Floor for several years. If you want to know more about the Oklahoma Consortium, contact Dana,  . AND, she’s great at explaining all this stuff.

Here is our list of current (and growing) affiliates in alphabetical order: 

  1. Francis Tuttle Technology Center
  2. Northeastern State University
  3. Oral Roberts University
  4. Rose State College
  5. Southwestern Oklahoma State University
  6. Tulsa Community College
  7. Tulsa Technology Center
I am getting certified as a QM trainer so we can offer training here on The Eighth Floor for QM consortium members in this part of the state. Some of the Higher Ed institutions are looking at offering online faculty a six hour training course on using the QM rubric. I imagine, without being required, that many faculty will be interested. I’ve taken it and it was worth the time. This short course was not challenging in the way I describe the trainers’ courses. I found this course to be quite enlightening. It helped me understand the QM rubric and get some practice applying it.

If you are teaching online, especially if you have been doing it for several years, Quality Matters will likely pique your interest. It has helped me see online instruction and course design from a variety of different perspectives. Plus, it’s got a good beat and it’s easy to dance to.

Here is a current list of QM Rubric Training courses this spring semester. Classes are open to members of the statewide consortium. These are all day workshops – but it goes quickly. If there is interest, we are happy to add more classes at The Eighth Floor! Contact Dana Lindon-Burgett for enrollment information 

  • Jan 11 Rose State
  • Feb 11 Rose State
  • March 4 Rose State
  • March 25 Eighth Floor
  • April 8 Rose State
Just Sharin’ 
Lee Anne

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