Recently, Northwest Mississippi Community College online instructors participated in a formal Quality Matters (QM) subscriber-managed review and certification. Beth Dickerson, Business and Office Technology instructor’s Medical Terminology course and Jennifer Hale, mathematics instructor’s Calculus II course both met the required QM standards.
“Quality Matters (QM),” is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to define and maintain quality assurance in online learning.
According to the QM website, the organization began with a small group of colleagues in theMarylandOnline, Inc.(MOL) consortium who were trying to solve a common problem among institutions: how do we measure and guarantee the quality of a course? In 2003 MOL outlined how the Quality Matters program could create a scalable process for course quality assurance, and applied for a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The grant enabled QM to develop a rubric of course design standards and create a replicable peer-review process that would train and empower faculty to evaluate courses against these standards, provide guidance for improving the quality of courses, and certify the quality of online and blended college courses across institutions.
The review of Dickerson’s and Hale’s courses were based on national standards of best practice, research findings and instructional design principles, according to Beth Adams, QM/course review manager. “The QM review process is part of an inter-institutional, faculty-driven, peer review process and helps to standardize the level of rigor applied to course reviews,” Adams said.
Currently, in addition to Dickerson’s and Hale’s courses, Northwest has Trent Booker’s American History, Marcus Perkins’ Intermediate Algebra, Kristin Watson’s Human Growth and Development and Leelee Haraway’s American Literature courses that have previously achieved official QM course certification, according to Adams.
“I am excited to see the enthusiasm when a class reaches the QM status. It means these instructors truly care about Northwest students and how we are delivering the material in a quality way. With the foundational work we have already accomplished, we are well on our way to having a good selection of quality structured online classes. QM is educating us about current best practices with online and hybrid courses. We plan on continuing our efforts in certifying courses until a majority of our online courses are qualified,” said Phyllis Johnson, dean of eLearning.
For more information on Northwest’s eLearning program, visit the college’s website at northwestms.edu, and to learn more about QM, visit their website at qualitymatters.org.