Veronica Johnson

What’s All The Buzz About Quality Matters?

Quality Matters LogoRecently I had the opportunity to network with a lot of online faculty and instructional designers at the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison, Wisconsin.  When I informed many of them that I was a certified QM reviewer, they instantly became intrigued. A couple of instructors even asked if I thought the program was beneficial and worth investing the time and money into. 

Whenever I develop a course or complete a major revision for a course at DePaul, I use the Quality Matters rubric to evaluate the work I have done. As a result, some of those subject matter experts have become intrigued about Quality Matters as well.  By the end of this blog, you will be able to determine if Quality Matters is a program that best suits the needs of the people in your workplace.

Now, someone reading this may have the following questions:

  • What is Quality Matters?
  • Is Quality Matters a well-known program?
  • Will and how can Quality Matters benefit me in my current career role?

Quality Matters is simply a program that embraces the best practices of online design of courses. This program is used in the K-12 and higher educational sectors. Since I use Quality Matters at DePaul I can speak from the perspective of the higher ed industry.

I have been working with designing curriculum for about 17 years. Before coming to DePaul three years ago, I served the K-12 industry in a variety of roles. It has been my experience in both sectors to often hear learners complain about the way content is being presented to them, the instructor’s expectations, and how they are being assessed.

In the K-12 industry these issues were always dealt with by someone going into the classroom and modeling and coaching the teacher that was experiencing difficulties. As we know, we are living in an ever changing society in which even two-year-olds can now perform tasks on a technological device—and many even have their own tablet.

Quality Matters philosophy ensures learners of all levels are exposed to courses that are designed with high quality. It doesn’t evaluate the teacher’s performance, but if the course has been designed with high quality then this makes the facilitation process easier and learners are more engaged—which leads to more of them mastering the content.

As I stated earlier Quality Matters is nationally recognized and it helps to develop quality courses. If the course isn’t well built then the chances of failure from the instructor and the students increase tremendously. For the higher ed industry Quality Matters has a rubric that is only available to QM (Quality Matters) reviewers. In order to become a reviewer there are a few courses that one must take and pass. Since the rubric is only for QM reviewers I will just mention briefly some of the components the rubric highlights:

  • Course and module objectives are measurable
  • All assessments are in alignment with course and module objectives
  • Learners being aware of the instructors expectations
  • A variety of tools used to evaluate the learners
  • Constant interaction between the learners and the instructor, the LMS and the learners, and peers engaging with each other.

Now, just with the components I have highlighted let’s reflect back on some of our learning experiences throughout our lifetime. As a learner, you want to know what you’ll be expected to learn. When objectives are clearly stated and well-written from the perspective of the learner, this creates a positive learning environment.

Even when I taught in the K-12 sector, I always introduced the lesson objective and made sure it was student friendly. When objectives are written from learners’ perspectives, then the chances of them feeling unmotivated or confused at the beginning of the lesson decreases. Also, if a lesson and assessment are aligned to the objective, it’s like walking up to the batting plate and hitting a home run. I don’t know about you, but hitting a home run to me equals success. Now, wouldn’t you want all of your online courses to mirror success?

 Expectations should always be introduced and clearly stated in any situation. In my opinion, setting expectations is like creating a contract or agreement, because once the other party has been told the expectations, then both parties can move forward and achieve the ultimate goal. I like how Quality Matters focuses on expectations, because I have witnessed numerous occasions in on-ground and online learning environments in which individuals are confused because no expectations have been set.

One important component of expectations is ensuring learners know how they will be evaluated. This can be done in the form of checklists or rubrics. It has been my experience that when rubrics are designed and used effectively, then learners take control of their own learning. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy when learners are in the driver’s seat and I am merely the facilitator. When I see my learners applying their critical thinking skills to the learning concept for the week, I feel as though I have hit another home run. In my opinion, utilizing the Quality Matters program effectively is like sealing your ticket to the World Series. If you don’t believe me, then please read these reviews of Quality Matters:

“Having our online programs Quality Matters certified will distinguish them in the marketplace where students have so many choices these days.”
Garvey Pyke, UNC Charlotte, Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning

“Since participating in the QM K-12 Reviewer Course, I have a much better grasp of the rubric, including a deeper understanding of each standard and any corresponding annotation.”
Anthony White, Kodiak Island Borough School District, Statewide Virtual Content and STEM Program Coordinator

If you or your employer is interested in becoming Quality Matters certified, then I would suggest you and your team do some research. I will say that Quality Matters is time consuming, but it is honestly worth the investment. I mean, who doesn’t want to end up the winner of the World Series? I am quite sure the Chicago Cubs used a method quite similar to Quality Matters!

Veronica Johnson

About Veronica Johnson

Veronica Johnson has been an instructional designer for the School for New Learning since February of 2015. In December of 2014 she graduated with a Masters in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University. Veronica has a Bachelors in Elementary Education and a Masters in Curriculum and Instruction. Before coming to DePaul, Veronica was a teacher in Chicago Public Schools for 14 years. While teaching she discovered that she enjoyed designing her own curriculum so this is what led her to become an instructional designer. Veronica enjoys collaborating with faculty to ensure the best practices of online design are embedded in every course she designs.

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