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 Extended Campus 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 (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability

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 an official Quality Matters review.  For an official 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 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, the Instructional Design and Development team has incorporated Quality Matters principles into faculty training programs and consultations on the development of online courses.  The Teaching Academy for Online Learning, a training program for faculty on how to develop an online course uses Quality Matters standards as a foundation for course development.

Quality Matters Training
If you would like to learn more about Quality Matters there are several training options:

  • Quality Matters Introduction – the Instructional Design and Development team can provide a short presentation about Quality Matters for your faculty meeting or specific faculty working in online programs.
  • Teaching Academy for Online Learning – this intensive program has been held each summer and is delivered in a hybrid format.  The Academy helps faculty develop new online courses using QM standards.  After the formal training, faculty members work with the IDD staff to develop their online course.
  • Planning Your Online Course – this 3 hour workshop provides a foundation in planning an online course using QM standards.  The workshop is offered toward end of each semester.
  • Applying the Rubric – this course, offered online by Quality Matters, is a pre-requisite for becoming a certified reviewer.
  • Peer Reviewer Certification – offered online by Quality Matters.

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 instructional.design@unco.edu.