Northwest Mississippi Community College has become the first community college in the state to have an online course officially recognized as a Quality Matters (QM) course, according to Phyllis Johnson, dean of eLearning. Northwest’s History I course, taught by Trent Booker is the course that gained the designation.
In addition to the history course, Intermediate Mathematics, which is taught by Marcus Perkins, also gained the QM course designation, according to Johnson. “Both of these men are eLearning coordinators and are setting a great example to Northwest,” Johnson said. She added that Booker was named Mississippi Virtual Community College (MSVCC) Instructor of the Year in March.
“Quality Matters (QM),” is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to define and maintain quality assurance in online learning. According to the QM website, the organization began with a small group of colleagues in theMarylandOnline, Inc.(MOL) consortium who were trying to solve a common problem among institutions: how do we measure and guarantee the quality of a course? In 2003 MOL outlined how the Quality Matters program could create a scalable process for course quality assurance, and applied for a Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) grant from the U.S. Department of Education.
The grant enabled QM to develop a rubric of course design standards and create a replicable peer-review process that would train and empower faculty to evaluate courses against these standards, provide guidance for improving the quality of courses, and certify the quality of online and blended college courses across institutions. Northwest announced its membership in QM in February of last year.
“When a student takes a Northwest online class, we want that student to know that they will be getting a course designed to give them a quality learning experience. Students will find clear expectations and guidance to ensure they are off to a good start, content that is purposeful, and activities that are interactive and varied. Opportunities for students to measure their own learning will be found throughout the course, as well as technology that serves to facilitate the learning experience.,” Johnson said.
“Online faculty are being taught the best practices of online education based on QM, and when they commit their courses to a QM review, they are supported by peer feedback in an open and collegial continuous improvement process. Institutions with students enrolled in a QM-Certified course have made a choice to provide quality designed courses based on researched and supported standards and published best practices,” she added.
For more information on Northwest’s eLearning program, visit the college’s website at northwestms.edu. Click on campuses and select eLearning. To learn more about Quality Matters, visit their website at qualitymatters.org.