Beginning a QM K-12 Education
“We learned about QM’s K-12 course design standards for online and blended learning in 2012,” began Megan Ash, Coordinator, Digital Learning and Training, Educational Service Center (ESC) of Central Ohio, and a certified QM facilitator, course reviewer and coordinator. “Christine Voelker, Director of QM’s K-12 Program, was at a local technology conference and showed us the ropes.” Impressed with the well-considered, research-supported design standards and intrigued by QM’s potential to both inform the quality of the ESC’s online courses and help member districts design online courses, the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio became a QM subscriber.
As the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio's Digital Learning and Training Coordinator, Megan creates and manages online professional development courses for educators and also oversees course facilitators and coordinates teaching assignments. She’d previously served as a high school English teacher in a traditional face-to-face classroom, an instructional supervisor at a public cyber charter school and a director of client services at a not-for-profit company that designed, developed and delivered online courses for K-12 students.
About the ESC of Central Ohio
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio proudly serves students and school districts in Franklin, Delaware, Licking, Madison, Ross and Union counties.
Through direct instruction and quality professional development, the Education Service Center of Ohio partners with districts to improve outcomes and engagement for all learners. It offers educational consultancy through programs focused on instructional coaching, administrative counseling, professional employment services and business services.
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio provides expertise in the areas of Achievement & Leadership Services, Business Services, Student Services and Technology.
“The ESC began considering online course design and we were struggling with where to begin,” Megan remembered. “That’s where Christine came in.” Chris connected the ESC with Mary Ann Zellman, QM’s former K-12 Program Coordinator, and thus began the ESC’s QM journey.
The ESCs of Central and Mid-Ohio formed a pilot group to complete the K-12 Applying the Quality Matters Secondary Rubric (K-12 APP) workshop and later conferred to discuss experiences and outcomes. Pilot program participants sought to determine if broader educator enrollments would be a worthwhile use of resources. “We invited eTech Ohio, teachers, administrators, curriculum coordinators and ESC consultants to help sort our findings,” Megan reported. “When we learned QM played a role in higher education and their success with higher education institutions, we were astonished.”
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, after weighing input from the stakeholders they’d invited to discuss the value of the K-12 APP, found great value in the course and saw an opportunity for a broader embrace of the K-12 Secondary Rubric, Second Edition. “We thought the time was ripe for the K-12 world to embrace these standards,” Megan said. “We knew it would create a seamless bridge to Ohio’s higher education online/blended learning system.”
“Our ESC joined QM and trained facilitators to start offering the K-12 APP to our districts,” Megan noted. “Shortly thereafter, we were thrilled to learn the Ohio Department of Education was looking for ways to implement QM statewide, offering competitive grants to other providers in the state to bring QM training to schools.”
The ESC applied for one such grant with a local high-quality partner, Instructional Technology Services of Central Ohio (ITSCO) , and also joined forces with Hilliard City Schools, New Albany-Plain Local Schools and Westerville City Schools to offer the K-12 APP to more than 100 educators. “We still offer this course routinely and continue to hear great accolades,” Megan said. “We use QM’s K-12 Secondary Rubric, Second Edition as a guide for ongoing revision of the ESC’s existing online courses.”
Upon completion of the K-12 APP, district educators made adjustments to their courses, particularly course overviews and introductions. They learned the structure and navigation of their online courses may not have been intuitive and that effective design is essential to creating a positive and productive first impression for learners.
QM’s research-supported K-12 Secondary Rubric, Second Edition “provides an excellent framework for the design of high-quality online or blended courses,” Megan enthused. While the Rubric was created specifically to address the design of online and blended courses, many educators report that, after taking the K-12 APP, they also see it as a valuable design tool for face-to-face courses.
“Changes to our online courses inspired by QM have impacted over 3500 educators that have enrolled in the K-12 APP,” Megan reported. The ESC’s five online course facilitators and some staff in Center for Achievement have completed QM’s K-12 APP, significant because the impact only dominoes as more educators become familiar with and employ the concepts discussed in the K-12 APP workshop and see changes to learner impacts and classroom practices. The ESC has offered 13 sessions of the K-12 APP to teachers throughout Ohio over the past two years; countless students have likely been impacted,” Megan continued.
The K-12 APP “helps me support teachers in member districts creating their own online and blended courses,” Megan says. Megan has also had the opportunity to network with colleagues throughout the state and share best practices in online and blended learning through Ohio’s Board of Regents- and Department of Education-sponsored QM K-12 meetings.
One of the challenges in promoting the QM K-12 program generally, and the value of the K-12 APP and similar workshops and courses specifically, is the time and resulting demand educators face with increasing responsibilities and licensure/compliance requirements. “As a result, some may view these workshops and courses as something they’d like to do, but cannot due to time constraints,” Megan said.
Additionally, the idea and possibilities of a quality assurance culture taking root in K-12 institutions is still new to many. “Because QM is relatively new to K-12 professional practice in blended and technology-supported learning, the framework does not enjoy widespread recognition among teachers and principals,” Megan acknowledged. “As a result, if a district QM champion leaves for another position and too few QM champions are strategically situated throughout the district, the district’s ability to sustain QM is threatened.”
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio is committed to ‘walking-the-talk’ of Quality Matters, as evidenced by its decision to pursue QM affiliation prior to its eventual receipt of an eTech Ohio grant. “Our online course facilitators welcomed the opportunity to take the K-12 APP and learn about best practices in online course design,” Megan said.
“We hope to continue providing QM’s K-12 APP to educators and administrators throughout Ohio,” Megan hoped. “Additionally, we want to provide support – grounded in QM’s framework – to districts designing courses in online/blended environments.” Megan plans to develop consistent and QM-focused course templates for use in the ESC’s online offerings. “I may look to partner with other QM K-12 subscribers in Ohio,” she said.
The Educational Service Center of Central Ohio recognizes the importance of increasing its capacity to support teachers in designing online courses and has fully embraced a great partnership with Quality Matters. “QM’s reputation as a research-supported, best practice-based process cannot be disputed,” Megan concluded.
Megan Ash is the Digital Learning and Training Coordinator for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio.
Megan Ash is a K-12 Certified Online Facilitator and Course Reviewer for QM. In addition, she is the QM Coordinator for the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio