First, let’s take a look at Quality Matters. Quality Matters is a national nonprofit designed to improve the quality of online learning. They have both a quality tool (the Quality Matters Rubric,) and a peer review process by which courses can be submitted for certification based on 8 General Standards and 43 Specific Review Standards (Quality Matters, 2014). Quality Matters has over 900 subscribing institutions as members. Alignment is critical to the Quality Matters Rubric, whereby all instructional elements of the course (objectives, assessments, learning resources, activities and technology) work together to enable students to meet course outcomes (Quality Matters, 2014). Quality Matters also has a separate rubric for K-12 education.
The underlying principles of Quality Matters are 1) continuous, 2) centered (on research, student learning and quality,) 3) collegial, and 4) collaborative. Quality Matters is one of the leading quality tools for instructional design of online courses within higher education, with over 900 institutions subscribing. It has expanded its usage beyond higher education to include K-12, educational publishing, and continuing and professional education.
The Quality Matters rubric has 8 General Standards, each of which has Specific Review Standards. Core to the Quality Matters rubric is the concept of alignment, wherein “critical course components – Learning Objectives (2), Assessment and Measurement (3), Instructional Materials (4), Course Activities and Learner Interaction (5), and Course Technology (6) – work together to ensure students achieve desired learning outcomes.” The Quality Matters Rubric comes accompanied by the Annotations, which describe in more detail how the standards might look in action in an online or blended/hybrid course.
When a QM Review is conducted, the course either “Meets” or “Does Not Meet” the criteria at an 85% or better threshold. The course must meet all of the Essential Standards (which are 3 points), and enough of the Very Important and Important standards to have a percentage of 85% of the points overall.
Quality Matters include standards on accessibility, however it is important to note that their Specific Review Standards associated with accessibility are broader than the requirements set forth in Titles II and III, Section 504, and in Section 508 where it applies.
Watch this video overview of Quality Matters to gain some background information on the rubric and the process.