Quality is at the table, always.

Dr. Deb Adair, QM Executive Director

Welcome to 2020. I hope your holidays were joyful and restful, with plenty of family and friends at your table. I also hope you were able to spend some time reflecting on what matters and your own agency in making it matter. I know I have.

As our students head back to class, we are turning our attention to the business of teaching and learning. It's difficult not to be overwhelmed by the calls for change and the widely-circulating visions for the future of work and the implications for educators. Leaders of corporations and academic institutions all realize that the issue is less about technology replacing jobs and more about preparing people for a different kind of technology-enabled work. Corporate leaders are responding, in some cases, by developing their own education and credentialing. And educators are, or should be, rethinking their curricula. 

Reading “Robot Proof” by Joseph Aoun from Northeastern University or Georgia Tech's report Deliberate Innovation, Lifetime Education provides a basic primer for a rethinking of curriculum. Designing learning in ways that support lifelong learning is fast becoming an imperative. Pearson surveyed 11,000 learners in 19 countries and found short courses, vocational training and continual upskilling are widely-held expectations. We recognize that preparing for tomorrow's imperatives to design learning that is 1) workplace relevant, 2) acknowledges the need for student mobility and transferability, and 3) supports lifelong learning for adults is difficult when many of us are so deeply engaged in addressing today's challenges . If you are a QM institution, however, I'd like you to know two things:

  1. The work you are doing now is both relevant to, and laying the groundwork for, the imperatives on your doorstep. A rigorous QM implementation is, at its heart, a change initiative and a model for introducing other changes. And the ability to strongly align objectives, content / activities and assessments is fundamental to the work we need to do to prepare students for new civil and workplace needs and demonstrate clearly what they know and can do.
  2. While you are leaning in and leading through your own institution, know that QM is at the table for you in the national and international conversations about how the practice of education needs to change - conversations about micro-credentials, alternative credentials in a burgeoning credentialing economy , universal skill-based student records, open education, and more. Quality is always a concern, if not a central focus, in these conversations.

At QM, we are serious about achieving our vision in leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. Our multipronged approach to this work includes:

  • Being up front and part of the discussion 
  • Determining practical ways forward
  • Leading in ways that make success possible for the community that needs to make these future visions a reality 

Throughout 2019 and heading into 2020, QM was, and continues to be, at the table representing our community in discussions about the future and the specific implications for teaching and learning:

  • The Presidents Forum is an organization formed by the leaders of academic institutions and other, non-credentialing, education partners, to focus on the future of education and the role of innovative institutions in driving change. The current issues on the table include action and advocacy for the Interoperable Learning Record and discussions with the American Workforce Policy Advisory Board. The implications for the QM community are the need for data transparency and the articulation of skills and competencies in the ways that we are designing and recording student learning.
  • The Quality Assurance Advisory Group for Credential Engine provides guidance to Credential Engine about quality assurance issues related to the cataloging of what is anticipated to be over 730,000 educational and training opportunities in the US The articulation of appropriate quality assurance bodies and quality-related data for the competencies listed will become critical in the comparison and use of the credentials listed in the registry.
  • As a fast-growing part of the vast credential landscape, micro-credentials and their use and deployment in formal education (secondary and post-secondary) is a key feature in discussions about the future of work and education. We've been closely tracking the work of the US Chamber of Commerce’s T3 Innovation Network on development of standards for comprehensive learner / worker / military records and we've contributed to publications that address or advance this work, including contributions as part of the International Council for Open and Distance Education (ICDE) Working Group on The Present and Future of Alternative Digital Credentials . Spoiler alert - it's time to take this seriously and get engaged in this work.
  • QM is a member of the International Network for Quality Assurance Agencies in Higher Education INQAAHE) and I was recently appointed to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors . Among other things, INQAAHE is pursuing initiatives around globalization of basic quality standards and QM's work on developing a truly international version / edition of the QM Rubric is a complementary activity that can inform, and be informed by, this work. 

In all of these activities, and more, we are seeking to add the quality perspective to the conversation and to bring back ideas, tools and direction for our own community. This will continue to influence QM's work in both obvious and less obvious ways. For example, some things to look out for in 2020 and beyond include a significant broadening of our digital credentialing around QM professional development, some truly self-paced learning opportunities, and later, a more stackable credentials approach to QM professional development. We are looking forward to our move to the Canvas LMS this summer and will build upon that momentum with other related changes. Of course, what we are learning in our quality advocacy work nationally and internationally will inform what we bring to you in other ways as well. In everything we do,