About Quality Matters

The rapid growth of online education has forced institutions, faculty, and students to quickly adopt and adapt to this new mode of education and given its newness and sudden evolution, many still question the quality of education achieved through the online format.  Questions for the collective online education community include, (among many related to online education as a whole):

How Do We

  • identify and recognize quality?
  • motivate and instill quality?
  • assess and measure quality?
  • assure ourselves and various stakeholders that quality exists?

A FIPSE grant awarded to MarylandOnline in 2003 eventually resulted in the development of what is now known as the "Quality Matters Program", which is comprised of the

  • QM Rubric
  • QM Peer Review Process and
  • QM Professional Development

These key elements, continuously improved over the past eight years, continue to be cornerstones of the QM Program today. The Quality Matters (QM) program is now a nationally (and increasingly internationally) recognized, research-based, faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online and blended/hybrid courses and course components.

QM is a well-recognized national 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. QM subscribers, including community and technical colleges, public and private colleges and universities, K-12 schools and systems and other academic institutions, textbook publishers and continuing education programs, are using QM tools to develop, maintain and review their online courses and provide professional development opportunities to faculty.

QM's set of underlying principles are a primary reason for its wide-spread adoption. It provides a faculty-driven, peer review process that is:

  • Collaborative: QM was designed by and for faculty to share expertise relative to the design of a course.
  • Collegial: The course review process is a collegial discussion between faculty peers committed to learning.
  • Continuous: A continuous process for quality improvement. It is not an evaluation.
  • Centered: In national standards of best practice, the research literature and instructional design principles designed to promote student learning.  

QM is NOT About

  • the instructor – it’s about the design of the course
  • faculty evaluation – it’s about the quality of the course (and must never be used for purposes of faculty evaluation)
  • a win/lose or pass/fail test – the rubric in the review process functions as a diagnostic tool to facilitate the continuous improvement of online and hybrid courses

Quality Matters is adaptable to your goals at any level -- your personal goals, your program's, department's, college's, or the University's goals. Reported uses of the program include:

  • Helping educate faculty about quality in online courses
  • Reducing time and labor in designing online courses
  • Providing professional development opportunities for faculty and staff
  • Informing teaching practices related to design and structure for online, hybrid AND F2F courses Systematically/objectively improve current courses
  • Providing a quality threshold for new courses
  • Promoting programs with QM certified courses

QM Institutional Representative, Michael Manderfeld, and faculty liaison, Dr. Emily Stark, Ph.D. are happy to meet with you to discuss QM and how it might benefit your own online course. You can visit the Quality Matters Program site to learn more about the QM program nationwide.