Friday, October 12, 2012

4th Annual Quality Matters (QM) Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning Program

On October 3-6, I was lucky enough to have the chance to attend the 4th Annual Quality Matters (QM) Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning Program in Tucson, AZ. Held at the wonderful Loews Ventana Canyon Resort, the conference was a mix of hundreds of instructional designers, curriculum developers, and program administrators who all came together with a common goal to promote and improve the quality of online education and student learning.

Started by MarylandOnline, Inc., the Quality Matters Program is a three-part peer review certification process consisting of a set of quality assurance standards to be met by online and blended courses. Its three parts are comprised of the QM Rubric, the Peer Review Process, and QM Professional Development. K-12 schools, higher education institutions, and community and technical colleges are encouraged to subscribe to the program to assure quality and continuous improvement in their online education offerings. West Virginia University has been a QM subscriber since February 2012.

There were many sessions running concurrently during the conference, and I was able to participate in about ten of them with topics such as exploring the collaborative relationship between designer and subject matter experts (SMEs), designing a course template based on QM principles, incorporating universal design for learning into course creation, and examining the arrival of massive open online courses (MOOCs) and their potential for QM standard integration. There were also a variety of vendors in attendance with displays exhibiting an array of educational support services.

My trip was not only highly informative but also extremely relevant to my position as instructional designer. I found that many of the sessions were focused on finding solutions to the kinds of tasks I may be challenged with on a daily basis. I hope that everyone involved in producing online courses is someday able to attend this type of conference, as it was an enriching and rewarding opportunity to be among so many peers who share the same commitment to quality online courses.

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