“QM supports our goals by providing a research-supported set of Standards with the QM Rubric, along with professional development opportunities.”Lisa Kidder, ISU Quality+ Program Manager
To take quality to the next level, Idaho State University (ISU) developed Quality+. As Lisa Kidder, the University’s Quality+ Program Manager, explained, the initiative began several years ago, “In 2012, a faculty committee was tasked to designate a set of standards to ensure the quality of online courses. Along with the recommendation to use the QM Rubric, the committee provided 10 additional recommendations.” Over the next few years, the team at ISU dove into the Rubric and worked on some of the other recommendations through faculty committees and small pilots. Then, everything came together in the fall of 2017 when the University rolled out the Quality+ Program. The program combines the QM Rubric with all 10 recommendations:
- An Online Student Experience for faculty
- Focus on Objectives & Alignment
- Manageable Pieces
- Recommended Professional Development — Applying the Quality Matters Rubric
- Additional Professional Development that includes Moodle
- An ISU Internal Review Process
- Actual Student Perspective
- Options for QM Official Reviews
How it Works
“In addition to the 10 recommendations, we added accessibility checks and working with an instructional design partner to the QM+ program,” Lisa shared. “Technically we don’t have the instructional designer title, thus the slight modification. This phrasing also helps to emphasize the partnership aspect.”
The Quality+ Program includes three pathways for those who teach or will teach an eISU course. Courses that fall under eISU include completely asynchronous online, synchronous online and those with no more than five required face-to-face meetings. At the heart of each option is professional development, offered primarily through QM workshops and courses.
Quality+ Program Pathways
Quality+ Essentials — Quality+ Essentials is ISU’s internal review process for online courses. This is the recommended starting place in the Quality+ Program. It begins by creating an individualized professional development plan.
Quality+ Certification — Quality+ Certification is the next step in the Quality+ Program and is designed to prepare and support faculty on the path to an Official QM Course Review.
Quality+ Online Delivery — Quality+ Online Delivery is the final step in the Quality+ Program and results in faculty completing QM’s Teaching Online Certificate.
As outlined in the recommendations, incentives are offered to faculty to participate in the program. For example, those who participate in the Quality+ Essentials pathway may choose between a $4,000 payment, a course buy-out or a laptop plus the remainder of the $4,000 payment. That incentive is for the faculty’s first course. Incentive payments decrease for each subsequent course.
In addition to the incentives, another key to the program is flexibility. “The Quality+ Program is designed to be flexible to meet the needs of the faculty,” Lisa said. “Faculty create their own plan, including the timeline. This means that while it may take some faculty longer to have their course go through an internal essential standards review, we find that the flexibility allows the faculty to succeed while still meeting other work deadlines and life responsibilities.”
The Quality+ Program at ISU yields many benefits. To start, it helped uncover a gap in online offerings. “We discovered that all our general education courses had online options available, except math,” Lisa explained. “We reached out to the math department and were able to move one math course through the Quality+ Essentials. There are three more in progress. Being able to offer these courses online will provide a pathway for students to complete the general education requirements, and for undergraduate programs to move online.”
Students are benefiting in other ways as well. As one student shared, “I’ve never taken an online course so well organized (and I’ve taken 7+).” While another called out the course’s engagement level saying, “This is the first course wherein the online experience was as engaging as an in-person course.” Lisa also shared the story of a recent graduate, now an adjunct, who signed up for the Quality+ Program. “As a student, she took a course from a faculty member who participated in one of our pilots. As an adjunct, she knew she wanted to participate in the Quality+ Program to help her design courses like the one she took. As she said, ‘I could see that the course was designed to help me learn.’ And she wants the same for her students.”
ISU just completed its first QM-Managed Official Course Review, an effort that was a direct result of the Quality+ Program. The Course Representative Dawn Lattin shared, “The Quality+ Program mapped out the milestones to help me move forward. I just wanted to keep learning more.”
Lisa anticipates that Dawn’s course will be the first of many to go through the official review process. “We have several faculty and programs who would like to have all their courses QM certified. We are anxiously waiting for the end of the term so their courses will meet the prerequisite of being taught at least once after the course met all the Essential Standards,” Lisa explained. The University also plans to evaluate the program. To help, Lisa attended several research sessions at QM Connect with the goal of developing a plan. And speaking of plans, the University is also looking at ways it can better celebrate the faculty’s achievements and showcase their courses.
“Most importantly, though, our goal is to confirm the quality of eISU courses,” Lisa said. “And the Quality+ Program and all of the associated pathways are helping us do that. And so is QM. QM supports our goals by providing a research-supported set of Standards with the QM Rubric, along with professional development opportunities.”
Discover for yourself how Quality Matters can assist you in meeting your quality assurance goals. Explore our Rubrics and professional development opportunities to find the ones that are best for you.