Discover the best path for an online course review through Quality Matters+ at Ball State.
Revising or creating a new course is a laborious process. While higher education institutions around the globe transitioned to emergency remote teaching in 2020, building an effective online course for our learners requires strategic planning and thoughtful user experience design. If you have developed an online course and want to learn more about our course review process, we warmly welcome a conversation on next steps.
How is ‘Quality’ Determined and Assessed for an Online Course at Ball State?
There are multiple, meaningful ways to assess quality for an online course. Does your course employ active learning? Research finds that active learning strategies increase student performance. Is your course easy to navigate and accessible? Accessibility reduces or eliminates barriers to participating in your course to its fullest extent. An Institute of Education Sciences study found that only 34% of college students who reported a disability completed their degree.
“Adjusting to a college environment presents challenges for all students; however, for students with disabilities, the responsibility of managing their accommodations along with their academic course work presents a set of challenges unique to these students. Often, students with disabilities enter college unprepared to disclose their disability or lack the understanding of how to access services on campus.”Institute of Education Sciences longitudinal study on post-high school outcomes of young adults with disabilities
Two recognizable industry organizations that provide a rubric to assess for quality in online courses as well as a plethora of other resources are Quality Matters and OSCQR. Ball State adopted and adapted the Quality Matters Rubric. Learn more about the Quality Matters organization, including their vision and commitment to maintaining quality assurance in online learning.
What is Quality Matters+ at Ball State?
As Quality Matters certified-Peer Reviewers, our instructional consultants offer Quality Matters+ (QM+) internal reviews at no cost. Courses that pass a rigorous, internal QM+ review receive a digital Ball State QM+ badge to display in their online course. An internal review is a planned, ongoing, and collaborative process to inform improvement of course design.
Instructors can access a 1-page, abbreviated Quality Matters Rubric as a PDF from the Quality Matters website. We have also created a Ball State QM+ Rubric that includes relevant examples of how instructors can achieve these standards. Courses must earn 85 points or higher to earn their digital Ball State QM+ badge.
The Quality Matters+ Internal Review Process
A Quality Matters+ (QM+) review of a mature course typically takes 6 to 8 weeks, considering the back-and-forth communications and revisions between the course instructor and our instructional consultant team. The QM+ Rubric assesses the following eight areas of a course:
- Course Overview and Introduction
The course overview and introduction set the tone for the course, let learners know what to expect, and provide other guidance to help learners succeed from the outset.
- Learning Objectives
Learning objectives or competencies describe what learners will be able to do upon completion of the course.
- Assessment and Measurement
Assessment is implemented in a manner that corresponds to the course learning objectives or competencies and not only allows the instructor a broad perspective on the learners’ mastery of content, but also allows learners to track their learning progress throughout the course.
- Instructional Materials
Instructional materials enable learners to achieve stated learning objectives or competencies.
- Learner Activities and Learner Interaction
Course components that promote active learning contribute to the learning process and to learner persistence.
- Course Technology
The technologies enabling the various tools used in the course facilitate the learning process.
- Learner Support
The course facilitates learner access to institutional support services essential to learner success, including technical, accessibility, academic services, and student services support.
- Accessibility and Usability
The course design utilizes the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and reflects a commitment to accessibility, ensuring all learners can access all course content and activities, and to usability, ensuring all learners can easily navigate and interact with course components.
The ‘+’ in Quality Matters: A Customized Review
What is the “+” in QM+? A custom, internal Ball State QM+ review assesses quality in course design and online course delivery. One way we help put the “+” into Quality Matters is by inviting instructors to meet with our director of faculty development to dive deeper into your teaching practice.
We provide opportunities to reflect on the outcomes of new teaching strategies in a variety of ways:
- Participate in our Midterm Feedback Service, which gives students in the instructor’s course an opportunity to share their reflections, such as suggestions for the instructor as well as what they can do to improve their own learning to achieve the learning objectives—before the end of the course.
- Join a Peer Review of Teaching cohort and gain feedback from fellow educators
- Take advantage of highly personalized consultation time dedicated to active learning and engagement at large.
Comprehensive Program or Departmental Review
Program directors and department chairs can coordinate a comprehensive program review with our QM+ Rubric, especially if a program has recently been approved as an online, asynchronous or hybrid/mixed modality program. To coordinate a program or departmental review, contact our instructional consultant team at email@example.com.
“The utilization of Quality Matters and the expert guidance of our Online and Strategic Learning team at Ball State University changed my approach to online education. This approach allows for consistency and educational equity for our online students. I’ve seen tremendous improvements in student engagement and achievement outcomes. The time and energy invested to follow the Quality Matters rubric paid huge dividends for me as a faculty member, for my students, and for the clients they will serve.”Dr. Matt Moore, Social Work Program Director
Where to Begin: The Course Development Process
We invite instructors to begin the course development process in collaboration with our review team. We recommend completing a revision or new development of a course to meet the QM+ Standards via stages, as small changes can spur significant impact on student learning. Breaking up the development in stages incorporates multiple points of feedback, revisions, and reflection until the course design is complete, which can take three months to a year, depending on the state of the course. Once an instructor develops and then teaches a course online for at least one semester, we invite the instructor to submit a request for a QM+ internal course review.
- Stage I: Modify or develop course and module-level objectives.
- Stage II: Modify or create assessments, learning activities, and content with accessibility in mind.
- Stage III: Modify or develop a welcome module, including a syllabus, course schedule, and welcome video.
Contact our instructional consultant team at firstname.lastname@example.org to facilitate a QM+ review, or to jumpstart your course development plan.
“About QM.” Quality Matters. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://www.qualitymatters.org/why-quality-matters/about-qm.
Lederman, Doug. “Small Teaching Online.” Inside Higher Ed, June 26, 2019. https://www.insidehighered.com/digital-learning/article/2019/06/26/bringing-small-teaching-online-classroom.
Newman, Lynn et al. “The Post-High School Outcomes of Young Adults with Disabilities up to 8 Years After High School.” The National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 (NLTS2) funded by the National Center for Special Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. September 2011. https://ies.ed.gov/ncser/pubs/20113005/pdf/20113005.pdf.
Supiano, Beckie. “It’s Not About the Evidence Anymore.” The Chronicle of Higher Education, September 22, 2022. https://www.chronicle.com/article/its-not-about-the-evidence-anymore.
“The SUNY Online Course Quality Review Rubric OSCQR.” Accessed September 6, 2022. https://oscqr.suny.edu/.
“When to Use Internal and Preparatory Reviews.” Quality Matters. Accessed September 6, 2022. https://www.qualitymatters.org/reviews-certifications/course-design-reviews/internal-preparatory-review-options.
Cheri is the director of instructional consultation on the Teaching Innovation Team. Prior to joining the Division of Online and Strategic Learning, she was a faculty member for the Ball State Women’s and Gender Studies Program. Cheri’s background is in instructional design and technologies and leading international gender and LGBTQ grant projects.