Over 30 of the University of Georgia's faculty and staff who teach online courses participated in a Quality Matters workshop last semester offered through UGA's Office of Online Learning. Quality Matters is a faculty-centered, peer review process intended to promote the design and development of quality online courses, and the Applying the Quality Matters Rubric workshop introduces course designers to these standards.
The workshop is quite intensive, but the participants at the conference knew that it was time and effort well spent. Kelly Meyer, the Distance Learning Coordinator for UGA's Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, attended the workshop.
"As an educator, I feel one of the most important parts of our continuing work is to reevaluate the instruction and resources we offer each year," says Meyer. "The QM rubric offers a means of ensuring quality and excellence. It is flexible in that it doesn't create an entirely rigid system...but it is firm and will also continue to evolve as educational software and delivery methods change."
The Office of Online Learning uses the eight standards set by Quality Matters in helping faculty design and develop online courses. Quality Matters is a nationally recognized organization for its method of quality assurance and continuous improvement in online education.
Dr. Deborah Miller from UGA Franklin College also participated in the workshop and when asked what she would say to a colleague who was considering attending this workshop, Dr. Miller replied "It's useful for getting a clearer picture of your course and whether or not the course design and content are actually accomplishing what you hope they accomplish."
Ensuring quality is paramount at the UGA Office of Online Learning and we plan to offer more QM workshops to UGA faculty in the future. The instructional designers in the Office of Online Learning are obtaining certifications that will enable them to offer the APPQMR training internally to UGA faculty on an ongoing basis. Our office will continue to work toward establishing the necessary policies, procedures and guidelines needed for the University of Georgia to remain relevant within a highly competitive, global market of online education.
It is important that online courses at UGA continue to meet students' needs. "Our students' needs are continually evolving and we must innovate and maintain excellence to stay relevant," says Meyer.