Quality Matters

A faculty-centered process designed to certify the quality of online courses
QM ResourcesWhy QM

Quality Matters Reviews

Developing and recognizing quality online courses.  

About Quality Matters

UAF is part of the QM Alaska System of institutions.  

Noteworth QM Accomplishments

A list of Quality Matters related accomplishments regarding Program Review and Course Reviews.

Course Spotlight – MUS 200

Join eCampus instructional designers and selected faculty as we take a peek...

Open resources for accessibility

Accessibility is a topic appearing in mainstream conversation with increasing frequency. When it comes to making course materials inclusive and accessible, there are a variety of open tools available.

Our journey with Quality Matters

UAF’s Master of Education in Special Education program became the first online special education program in the nation to earn the Quality Matters’ Online Program Design Certification. Here’s how they did it and how you can earn Quality Matters certifications for your course or program.

The QM Process: A Success Story

Dr. Joanne Healy began the Quality Matters Online Program Design certification process in 2016 to review standards and update practices in all special education courses to ensure UAF teacher candidates would be well prepared. This talk–and Q&A–goes over the QM process from a participant’s perspective.

Improve your course with help from a review rubric

As a new semester approaches you should be thinking about making some improvements to your course. There are many review rubric resources available that will help prompt you into making revisions that will better support your students. This week’s tip will share information about some of these helpful resources.

Improve your online course with Quality Matters

Two online workshops are available in April and June to instructors with existing courses online. The training introduces a subset of the Quality Matters rubric standards which have the greatest impact on course design. Faculty decide and prioritize which sections of their course to improve.

Founded as part of a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant in 2003, Quality Matters (QM) is a nationally recognized peer review process for certifying quality in online courses.

“Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online courses and online components. … QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education.’

For more on Quality Matters  implementation at the University of Alaska  see the AQI website.

The Quality Matters Peer Review process is:

  • faculty-driven
  • collaborative
  • designed to provide specific, detailed and constructive feedback on course design
  • collegial, not evaluative or judgmental
  • centered on the learner’s experience

The Quality Matters Rubric and related materials  are supported by rigorous and current research. Our membership provides everyone at UAF with the opportunity to use the QM Rubric for continuous improvement of online courses. You can browse and search in their research library for this supporting material or check out the research that’s been done on the impact of QM  in online learning.

There are many ways to get started with QM including:

  • Education
  • Research
  • Faculty Development
  • Course Review
  • Program Review

Level 1: Consult with an Instructional Designer

UAF eCampus Instructional Designers are trained in applying the Quality Matters Rubric. The rubric is designed to assess mature online and hybrid courses, we help you consider improvements for any course based on Quality Matters or another well-established design models.

Level 2: Self-Guided Review

UAF is a QM subscribing institution; UAF faculty have access to QM Resources including the Research Library and a comprehensive Self-Review Tool for evaluating your own course. Fill out this form  to get started. UAA and UAS are QM subscribing institutions; all UA faculty have access to these resources.

Level 3: Internal Review

Receive basic feedback on the design of your online course before a Formal Review. We work with you on getting started, identifying needs, and making improvements in your course. While this doesn’t necessitate a formal review, the informal process prepares you fully to work with external reviewers through a QM Managed review.

Level 4: Quality Matters Managed Formal Review

Online and hybrid courses are eligible for a formal review. It is  a  three-week process where a Master Reviewer, a Subject Matter Expert and an External Reviewer from another institution examine your course using the QM Rubric, decides if it meets expectations for each standard, and–whether it meets expectations or not–gives helpful recommendations providing ideas for improvement and enrichment of that standard. If two or more reviewers agree a standard has been met, no revision is required. If not, you may revise your course using the recommendations.

The QM Review is based on continual improvement. It is a diagnostic, not an evaluation. If you wish to you may revise their course as needed to meet the QM standards. A successful revision results in the course being listed in the national QM Database of quality courses and the right to display the QM logo. Most importantly, a successful course review means a course that is better for learners!

Certified Classes at UAF

Since starting formal review activities at UAF the following courses have been certified through QM Managed reviews:


Internal Reviews at UAF eCampus

The following reviews went through an internal process that used all of the essential Specific Review Standards:

Prior to July 2020, UAF eCampus did not seek to secure a badge, brand, or recognition for our internally reviewed courses. We are looking to work with QM on this additional recognition.

Training

Sign up for available training or meet with a UAF Quality Matters Coordinator (QMC) to learn more.

  1. Sign up for an account at  https://www.qualitymatters.org/
  2. Go to the “Register for Professional Development” page and filter by “Higher Education” to see all the  upcoming sessions  available. { Link requires log in. }
Start a Review

Quality Matters materials and professional development are available to UAF faculty and staff through our institutional membership. If you are interested in participating in performing a self-guided review, or taking part in an informal or formal review:

  • Contact us using our  form (UA sign-in required)
  • Create your free account at MyQM  where you will use their Course Review Management System for your review
    • Choose the type of review you want: self-guided, internal, or Quality Matters Managed
    • Request the review – You’ll receive an email when it is approved
    • Submit your Course Worksheet through the CRMS

Self-guided reviews are ones where you use the CRMS and the QM Rubric–ask for a paper booklet–to perform a guided self assessment.

Internal reviews   are performed by three reviewers one of which is a Master Reviewer or a Certified Peer Reviewer and   the others have completed the APPQMR or IYOC courses. Reviewers use the CRMS after a kick-off meeting with you. This process takes between two and three weeks once the first meeting is scheduled. A final meeting to go over findings and recommendations happens at the end. Read  the Key Elements of any Course Review  on QM’s site for more details.    Internal reviews are great to get you and your course ready for a QM Managed review.

The official Quality Matters Managed review process is similar to the internal review; the Chair and Reviewers are external to our organization. The QM Managed review is how your course may be officially certified through Quality Matters. Learn more at QM’s page for Higher Ed QM Managed Official Reviews

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) - YouTube QM Videos

See the  full list of videos on YouTube  from QM.

How do I get started?  

Is there training? See  the schedule of upcoming training

Where are resources for my course? See the bottom this page for a series of items including accessibility information, privacy documents, academic support information, technology and tutorials.

Considerations for Online Courses

Quality Matters is specifically for online and hybrid courses. If you are interested in a similar process that might apply to your face-to-face (or other) course, get in touch and we’ll help you find relevant resources.

We’ve developed a few guidelines to help you use this site as a tool for implementing QM values in your course.

Our Quality Matters Relationship

UAF eCampus brought the proven work of the Quality Matters (QM) organization to UAF in 2016 to support continuous improvement of fully-online and hybrid courses.

Our relationship with QM means that we partner with and support UAF instructors who are interested in putting their course(s) through a QM review. These reviews examine the course content–the learning objectives, curriculum, planned learning activities– not delivery, using the QM Rubric as an authority rather than individual preferences.

All reviewers, including UAF instructional designers, are trained in applying the Rubric, writing helpful recommendations and considering the course from the learner’s point of view. The review process is an opportunity to work with professionals in your discipline and in online learning to think critically about how learners move through and work toward success in your course.

Learn more about the Higher Ed QM membership on the Quality Matters site.

Program Reviews

UAA, UAF, and UAS are paid affiliates of Quality Matters. They provide training and a certification process for fully online and blended courses as well as Programs.

Quality Matters believes “everyone has a goal. Learners need to improve and grow. You nurture them with well-conceived, well-designed, well-presented courses and programs. Our goal — as a non-profit, quality assurance organization — is to provide a system to help you deliver on that promise: with review, improvement and certification of quality.”

Quality Matters (QM)  Program Reviews  include four types:

  • Program Design
  • Teaching Support
  • Learner Support
  • Learner Success
Promoting Your Course
  • Confirm whether your course is listed with a QM badge on the    UAF  eCampus  courses page    for each semester.
  • Add your QM badge and language about the process inside of your course shell.
  • Consider working with your department to promote out a list of courses or individual courses with QM certification.
Is it Time to Recertify?

A course needs recertification before the three or five-year time limit when more than 20% of any of the following have changed: course level objectives, module level objectives, assessments in the course, instructional materials, learning activities including assignments, tools used in the course. See the full flowchart  how a combination of items  could lead to a need for recertification.   Besides this flowchart  “there may be other times when re-certification is needed. If any of the conditions below lead to more than 20% changes to the course, the recertification requirement applies:

  • The institution has changed its learning management system where the course is hosted.
  • The textbook has been changed AND the course design was constructed around the textbook.
  • Any of the Alignment Standards are changed due to a textbook update or a new textbook.
  • Redesign of a course due to increasing or decreasing credit hours.
  • If the course has recently gone through a review process by a curriculum committee as a result of a regular course review cycle.”

Quality Matters. (n.d.). Recertification for QM-Certified Courses: Quality Matters.

Quality Matters: Further Resources

Janene McMahan

Janene McMahan, M.Ed., is an instructional designer, Google Certified Educator, and adjunct faculty with 25 years of teaching expertise.

vjmcmahan@alaska.edu