Quality Matters

Quality Matters Logo

The University of Northern Colorado is committed to implementing Quality Matters standards for the design of online courses and we are systematically building and evaluating our courses based on these rigorous, research-based standards. UNC recognizes that Quality Matters standards promote learner engagement and provide students with the tools and information they need to be successful learners. More information regarding Quality Matters may be found at http://www.qmprogram.org/.


What is Quality Matters?

Quality Matters is a toolset and process that is designed to promote quality in online courses.   Developed by MarylandOnline and funded by a FIPSE grant, the QM program involves the use of a rubric and peer evaluation to evaluate the quality of design of online courses.  The QM Rubric can also be used as a guideline for development of quality online learning courses.  All new online courses to be offered through OES will be designed using QM guidelines. 

The QM Rubric

The QM rubric, based on research of best practices in online learning, contains eight broad standards and 40 total standards.  The eight broad standards include:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Engagement
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

The QM Process

Quality Matters is a process for continuous course improvement that involves using the rubric to review courses.  The peer reviewers use the rubric to review the course and provide detailed feedback to the course developer on whether or not the course meets each quality standard with comments on strengths and suggestions for course revisions and improvements.  The detailed feedback is the key element for enabling course developers to improve their courses.  Based on the feedback, courses are revised so that as QM says “All courses meet QM standards after the review process”.

Quality Matters Reviews

Courses can be reviewed informally using the rubric, or they can be submitted for a formal Quality Matters review.  For a formal review, the review team consists of three peer reviewers with online teaching experience who have completed peer reviewer training.  One member of the review team must be from an institution other than the course’s home institution.  One member must be a Subject Matter Expert.


In December of 2008, UNC subscribed to Quality Matters and many faculty members attended workshops presented by QM personnel on how to build a new course or improve an existing course using the Quality Matters Standards.  Since then, two cohorts of faculty have attended QM training and teamed up to perform peer reviews. 

Quality Matters Training

An online course entitled “Applying the QM Rubric” is offered to any faculty member who would like to learn more about Quality Matters.  This course takes approximately 12 hours to complete and provides practice using the rubric to review courses.  In addition, “Applying the QM Rub ric” is a pre-requisite for becoming a certified QM reviewer. 

More Information

If you would like to attend QM training, have a QM presentation at a faculty meeting, or submit one of your courses for an informal reviewed by UNC reviewers, please send an email to instructionaldesign@unco.edu.