Best Practices and Standards

As the demand for online and blended courses grows at Rutgers University, there is a need for greater consistency in the quality of online offerings to students. According to the Rutgers CMS Activity Survey, from the 2011 fall semester to the 2015 spring semester, online courses at Rutgers University increased from 4% to 10% of all active courses. Additionally, the Interim Report of the Committee on the Near- and Long-Term Impact of Instructional Technology notes that in a recent survey of RU students, 20% indicated that they had taken an online course during the 2013-2014 academic year. Anecdotal reports from faculty, students and administrators note great variability in both online course design and quality across the University, leading to potential criticisms of online learning itself. We believe there is a need, across Rutgers, for better quality assurance processes when it comes to online course design.

Quality Matters is an internationally recognized non-profit organization that provides research-based standards for the design of online and blended courses. These standards focus on creating student-focused courses that have a high level of interaction, support, and accessibility. The Higher Education QM Rubric (5th Edition) is a research-based tool focused on student success consisting of 8 overarching general standards and 43 specific standards that reflect best practices in online and blended course design. There are over 950 higher education institutions internationally who subscribe to QM (including fellow Big 10 universities: Indiana, University of Maryland, University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, Michigan State University, Pennsylvania State University, and Ohio State University) with over 5,000 QM-certified courses.

To learn more or participate in discussions about quality standards for blended and online courses at Rutgers, contact us.

Further Reading on Best Practices & Standards

Adair, Deborah, and Kay Shattuck (2015) “Quality Matters: An Educational Input in an Ongoing Design-Based Research Project” American Journal of Distance Education, 29:3, 159-165, DOI: 10.1080/08923647.2015.1057094

Jung, Insung and Colin Latchem. Quality Assurance And Accreditation In Distance Education And Elearning: Models, Policies And Research. Routledge, 2012

Ozdemir, Devrim, et al. “Implementation of a Quality Assurance Review System for the Scalable Development of Online Courses” Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, Volume XVII, Number 1, March 2014

Andria F. Schwegler & Barbara W. Altman (2015) Analysis of Peer Review Comments: QM Recommendations and Feedback Intervention Theory, American Journal of Distance Education, 29:3, 186-197, DOI: 10.1080/08923647.2015.1058599

Rutgers CMS Activity Survey

Rutgers University Committee on the Near and Long Term Impact of Instructional Technology Interim Report. April 2015.

Scull, W. Reed, et al. “The Landscape of Quality Assurance in Distance Education.” Continuing Higher Education Review. (75) 2011: 138-149.

Varonis, Evangeline. “Most Courses are not born digital: An overview of the Quality Matters Peer Review Process for Online Course Design” Campus-Wide Information Systems Vol. 31 No. 4, 2014 pp. 217-229. Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1065-0741 DOI 10.1108/CWIS-09-2013-0053