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Panther Quality Initiative

FIU Online is dedicated to remaining a leader in distance education by ensuring the highest quality experiences and services in online learning. Our Commitment to Quality includes world-class instructional design support, comprehensive curriculum consulting, state-of-the-art learning technology administration, and online education support for colleges and departments.

Background

The SUS 2025 Strategic Plan for Online Education outlines goals and strategies that will result in improved instruction and increased educational opportunities for Florida residents. The SUS has implemented a process for adhering to quality standards for course design. The SUS 2025 Strategic Plan determines two course quality destinations: “High Quality” and “Quality Matters”. These designations are awarded to courses based on their successful alignment to the SUS Quality Rubric.

Panther Quality Course Design Initiative

In compliance with this state initiative and recognizing that course design is a critical component of teaching excellence, FIU Online is launching Achieving Panther Quality Course Design. This initiative is an institutional effort to satisfy the SUS online course quality mandate and advances our FIU vision of learning-centered, evidence-based, and culturally responsive teaching. The goal is that by 2025, online courses are designed to meet the Quality Matters course design framework.

Faculty Incentives

This initiative will be an ambitious undertaking for both faculty and FIU Online instructional designers and can only be accomplished through our shared commitment. As such, we are incentivizing faculty for the successful development and enhancement of courses in alignment with QM design standards.

Faculty incentives for existing courses developed in compliance with these quality standards will be awarded for each course as follows:

  • High-Quality (HQ) Course Design : Faculty whose course meets the quality standards requirements and who engage in an FIU-internal review of their course will be awarded a financial incentive of $500 .
  • Quality Matters (QM) Certified Course : Faculty whose course meets the quality standards requirements and who engage in an external review of their course through the formal Quality Matters process will be awarded a financial incentive of $1,500 . ( You can also choose to complete an HQ review first for $500 and subsequently complete the QM review for an additional $1,000, for a total of $1,500) .

Instructors selected to teach new online courses should be assigned with the explicit expectation that the course must meet the quality online course design standards as per this BOG mandate. New courses will not be eligible for the quality incentive available to faculty who enhance their existing courses to meet quality online course design standards.

For more information regarding monetary incentives, please contact your departmental liaisons.

Quality Matters

What is Quality Matters (QM)?

Quality Matters (QM) is a faculty-centered, peer review process that is designed to certify the quality of online courses. QM is a leader in quality assurance for online education and has received national recognition for its peer-based approach and continuous improvement in online education and student learning. The Quality Matters Rubric is research supported and promotes best practice-based quality standards and procedures. QM subscribers include community and technical colleges, colleges and universities, K-12 schools and systems, and textbook publishers.

FIU Online adopted Quality Matters (QM) as their quality assessment program in Fall 2011 by running a small pilot with only seven courses. Since then, upwards of 440 courses have been certified across all disciplines, recognizing Florida International University as the second highest institution with QM certifications nationwide.

What are the differences between a Quality Matters (QM) certification and a High Quality (HQ) certification?

QM

Quality Matters Certification (QM) results from a course being reviewed by three external QM reviewers, meeting all QM essential standards, receiving at least 85% of the available points on the QM Rubric, and providing alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.

  • Reviewer #1: QM Master Reviewer
  • Reviewer #2: QM Reviewer
  • Reviewer #3: QM Reviewer (Subject Matter Expert)

To meet Quality Matters Review Expectations:

  1. The review confirmed “MET” for all 3-point essential Standards
  2. The Review resulted in a total overall score of 85 or higher out of the 100 points.
  3. Instructor must complete “Course Worksheet”
  4. Instructor must participate in an initial review conference call and be available for inquiries during the formal review process

HQ

State Definition: High Quality (HQ) designation results from a course being reviewed by three internal trained reviewers, meeting all QM essential standards, receiving at least 85% of the available points on the QM Rubric, and providing alternative means of access to course materials in formats that meet the needs of diverse learners.

  • Reviewer #1: Instructional Designer
  • Reviewer #2: Instructor (Subject Matter Expert)
  • Reviewer #3: Quality Assurance Team

To meet High Quality Review Expectations:

  1. The review confirmed “MET” for all 3-point essential Standards
  2. The Review resulted in a total overall score of 85 or higher out of the 100 points.

Submit a Course

To start the review process please contact your instructional designer. Should you need additional assistance in evaluating content and offering recommendations for improvement please feel free to contact:

  • Mimi Lezcano | Quality Assurance Manager
  • Email: lezcanoh@fiu.edu
  • Ext: 305-348-8475

QM Training

The Quality Matters Rubric Training is intended for instructors and administrators who wish to understand more about the QM Rubric and how to use the rubric to design fully online courses. Please complete the form below to request a 2 hour one-on-one QM training.


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FAQs

What is Quality Matters (QM)?

QM is a set of standards and a peer review process that FIU Online has adopted to ensure quality of the design of its fully online courses. The SUS 2025 Strategic Plan for Online Education is utilizing QM as the design framework for course development.

Who’s doing it?

Higher education and K-12 institutions nationally and internationally are implementing the Quality Matters rubric and process. A complete list of subscribers in higher education can be found on the QM resources website

Is QM/HQ certification required to teach with FIU Online?

This depends on your department. Some departments require it while others encourage it. Check with your department chair for details. However, we encourage you to seek certification to ensure the quality of your online course.

How do I prepare myself to certify the quality of my fully online course?

Attend a training session with our QM/HQ expert and consult with your instructional designer.

What are the standards used to assess online courses?

There are 42 specific standards categorized under eight general standards:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability

Who developed the standards?

The Quality Matters Rubric is based on a review of the literature, the expertise of experienced practitioners, and best practices in online education. The Quality Matters Rubric is revised and updated every two years to stay abreast of the latest research in online education.

Do I have to meet every standard to meet expectations?

No, courses do not have to be "perfect." However, they must meet ALL "Essential Standards" (3 points) and obtain an overall score of 85/100 or higher. This also applies to courses that choose to go through the HQ internal review.

How do I know if my course is ready for QM submission?

Your course is ready for submission once you have the following criteria:

  1. You have taught the online course at least once.
  2. You have applied the QM/HQ standards in the online course to be reviewed.

How do I submit a course for QM review?

You can submit a course for review by contacting your instructional designer.

How long does the QM Review last?

All courses will undergo an internal review process to evaluate if the course is ready for formal QM review. Once the course is internally approved, it will get submitted for formal HQ review. The formal QM review process may take place over a maximum period of 20 weeks.

How long does the HQ Review last?

All courses will undergo an internal review process to evaluate if the course is ready for HQ review. Once the course is internally approved, if will get submitted for formal HQ review. The entire review process may take place over a maximum period of 16 weeks.

Who is on the team that reviews my course for QM Certification?

A peer-review team consists of three faculty members. At least one of those faculty members will be a subject matter expert. Every Quality Matters peer reviewer has extensive online teaching experience and has been trained and certified by QM to conduct peer reviews. At FIU Online all the reviewers used are external (from other institutions of higher learning).

Who is on the team that reviews my course for HQ Certification?

An internal review team consists of three reviewers: the assigned instructional designer, the faculty member to serve as the subject matter expert, and a member from FIU Online’s Quality Assurance team. The assigned instructional designer, the faculty member to serve as the subject matter expert and a member from FIU Online’s Quality Assurance team. Every instructional designer as well as the quality assurance team has been formally trained and certified by QM to conduct course reviews.

What are my responsibilities during the QM review process?

As the faculty course developer, you will complete the Instructor Worksheet, a document that describes your online course for the peer-review team. The peer-review team and you will use it during a pre-review conference call so that you may explain your course and any concerns. After the pre-review conference call, you are not involved in the peer-review process except to field questions the reviewers may have.

What are my responsibilities during the HQ review process?

As the faculty course developer/subject matter expert, you will work with your instructional designer in applying any recommendations (if applicable) solicited by the Quality Assurance team in order to meet the criteria for certification.

Will the QM/HQ review take place in my live course?

No, the review will take place in a copy of the course so that reviewers do not have access to any student data. You, your instructional designer, peer-reviewers (QM) and the Quality Assurance Team (HQ) will have access to a copy of the course in Canvas.

How will the QM reviewers access my course?

FIU Online will create student guest accounts for the peer reviewers.

What happens if my course meets Quality Matters expectations?

After a course has met QM standards, it is recognized by Quality Matters and the “QM Recognized” seal can be displayed within your online course. Your course will be displayed/recognized at the QM website and FIU Online website. Your department chair and dean will receive an email notice. FIU Online has a revenue sharing agreement with each of the departments at FIU, and you may be eligible to receive an honorarium for gaining QM certification. Check with your department for details.

What happens if my course meets High Quality expectations?

After a course has met HQ standards, it is recognized by FIU Online and the “HQ Recognized” seal can be displayed within your online course. Your course will be displayed/recognized as High Quality Certified on the FloridaShines online course catalog and FIU Online website. Your department chair and dean will receive an email notice. FIU Online has a revenue sharing agreement with each of the departments at FIU, and you may be eligible to receive an honorarium for gaining HQ certification. Check with your department for details.

What happens if a course does not meet QM expectations?

The QM process is designed so that all courses will eventually meet expectations. If a course does not meet expectations upon initial review, the faculty course developer receives detailed feedback from the peer-review team and has the opportunity to revise the course. Your instructional designer can assist you. The revised course is then re-submitted to the peer-review team chair for approval.

What happens if a course does not meet HQ expectations?

The HQ process is designed so that all courses will eventually meet expectations. If a course does not meet expectations upon initial review, the faculty course developer receives detailed feedback from FIU Online’s Quality Assurance team and has the opportunity to revise the course. Your instructional designer can assist you. The revised course is then re-submitted to the Quality Assurance team for approval.

How long do the QM and HQ certifications last?

The QM and HQ recognitions expire after five years.

Am I able to make changes to my course after it has been certified (HQ + QM)?

Yes, changes are able to be made. However, keep in mind that depending on what types of changes are made, a course may need to be re-evaluated. For example, if more than 20% of a course’s objectives, assessments, instructional materials, learning activities, or tools change, a new review will be needed.

If I have questions related to Quality Matters and/or High Quality, whom do I contact?

You may contact your instructional designer or Mimi Lezcano | Quality Assurance Manager at lezcanoh@fiu.edu or 305-348-8475.

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