Ready. Set. Go: How One Institution is Getting Started with Quality Matters

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“As we begin the Quality Matters journey, it is important that we learn together. This inclusive approach increased our institution’s readiness to think about our courses differently.”Gina Baral Abrams

Quality assurance in online and blended learning is not a sprint. It’s a marathon made up of many different steps — steps that lead to quality online and blended experiences for learners. Many institutions are just at the starting line — taking the first few steps to prepare for the journey ahead. The International Institute for Restorative Practices (IIRP) is one of those institutions.

IIRP recently became a QM member as part of their plan to begin a continuous quality improvement initiative. As Gina Baral Abrams, DrPH, IIRP’s Director of Research and Program Evaluation, shares, there were several reasons behind their choice to join QM, “We chose Quality Matters because we want to ensure that our courses are aligned with industry standards and best practices. Quality Matters offers the opportunity to benefit from the expertise of peer reviewers and strengthen our course design efforts. We look forward to certifying our courses and being recognized for excellence.”

Since joining QM, IIRP has taken several steps to move forward with its initiative, including engaging faculty and building buy-in from the top down. They started by offering onsite Applying the Quality Matters Rubric (APPQMR) and Improving Your Online Course workshops for all U.S.-based faculty, as well as the Institute’s President, Provost and key staff members. International faculty will complete the APPQMR online this summer.

Gina explains just how beneficial this approach has been, “As we begin the Quality Matters journey, it is important that we learn together. This inclusive approach increased our institution’s readiness to think about our courses differently. That is, our leadership is supportive of our quality assurance initiative, our faculty and staff feel invested and empowered, we have a shared understanding of QM principles and Rubrics, and we got a head start on our first course self-review during the IYOC.”

So what would Gina say to others who are just getting started like IIRP? It’s simple, she says, “Get excited!” Gina continues, “The Quality Matters Rubric and self-review process are wholly student-centered. This is an opportunity to ground your work in the standards of the field and improve your courses for the greatest likelihood of student success. Also, consider engaging as many faculty and staff as possible in the preparation phase of the journey for greatest buy-in and be intentional about how you will sustain the effort.”

Quality Matters offers a host of resources to help you engage faculty and gain administrative buy-in. Start by visiting the QM YouTube channel where you will find a short overview, member testimonials and conference session recordings. Plus, check out the QM Overview Booklet for more inspiration.

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