UT Online

Online Learning, Quality Matters, and New Federal regulations

Ohio QM ConsortiumLearning Ventures is proud to announce that The University of Toledo is now a member of the Ohio Learning Network’s Ohio Quality Matters Consortium. “Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online and blended courses. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning.” (http://www.qmprogram.org) There are now over 500 higher-ed institutions affiliated with the Quality Matters program and Ohio has the largest state-wide consortium with 58 member institutions.

QM has developed a researched-based rubric for evaluating and improving online and blended courses. The rubric is designed to evaluate only course design and not course delivery or content. The rubric consists of eight broad categories broken down into 40 individual standards. These 40 standards can be used in a variety of ways ranging from providing guidelines for course development to the evaluation and certification of courses (either through an internal or external review process).

Interest in evaluating and certifying the quality of online courses and programs continues to grow as new Federal regulations on state approval for distance education go into effect on July 1, 2011. These new regulations require that any institutions providing distance and online education to students in a State in which they are not physically located will be subject to the State’s jurisdiction and must meet its requirements. Responsibility for establishing these requirements is up to the individual State. Furthermore, institutions offering online courses or programs must be able to document the individual State’s approval upon request.

While QM concentrates on providing a standard by which to compare the design quality of online courses, the nonprofit Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) has developed a “quality scorecard” that might serve as a standardized way for administrators to compare and improve institutional support for online programs. This scorecard, developed by a panel of 43 “long-serving” online administrators, consists of 70 metrics in nine general categories ranging from support for students and faculty to technology support.


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