K-12 Publisher On Point With Quality Assurance Efforts

“QM reviews help ensure that we have consistent courses across our catalog. They also serve to validate the work we are doing to create quality courses, to provide an external stamp of approval.”Crystal Guiler, Co-founder and Chief Academic Officer

When Pointful Education’s Steve Southwick first heard of Bitcoin, he was intrigued and went in search of more information. What he found was hard to digest and highly technical. That got his wheels spinning. Why weren’t there any entry-level courses on Bitcoin or Blockchain Technology, he wondered. And why didn’t anything exist to introduce high school students to the future-focused idea of cryptocurrency? Finding no answers to these questions and others, Steve decided to fill in the information gap himself and founded Pointful Education.

Pointful Education is a K-12 Publisher that develops unique, future-thinking and career-focused online courses for high school students. “We want to expose kids, especially kids in rural and underserved areas, to new ideas and new fields of interest,” Steve explained. “It’s important to give them course choice and help them figure out what they are interested in.” Pointful is accomplishing this through course offerings such as Drones: Remote Pilot Certification, Esports and the History of Video Games and, of course, Bitcoin and the Future of Money. Steve recognized, though, that he couldn’t just create unique courses. The courses had to scaffold knowledge, resonate with students and engage them.  

To help ensure that Pointful’s courses meet student needs and provide a pathway for success, Steve engaged with Quality Matters. He started by attending the 2017 QM Connect Conference. “I had a solid base of knowledge going into the conference but was blown away by the additional information I uncovered there,” Steve shared. “The fact that Quality Matters is supported by research also really resonated with me.” The conference’s networking opportunities played a role in guiding Steve’s efforts as well. In fact, it was during the conference that he connected with Crystal Guiler. That meeting led to Crystal becoming a co-founder of Pointful as well as its chief academic officer.

At QM Connect, Steve also took QM’s Designing Your Online Course pre-conference workshop. As Steve detailed, the workshop provided him with a lot of insight into today’s virtual classroom, which helped him bring on the right people and create the best template for Pointful Education design. Between this and best-in-practice pedagogy research, Steve was armed with the tools he needed to best serve students and teachers.

Armed with his existing knowledge, new knowledge and Crystal’s extensive design experience, Steve brought his plan to life — developing unique courses that provide students with a clear pathway to success. “Since QM was introduced early in the process, we were able to create courses with Standards in mind,” shared Steve. That helped Pointful prepare for its next step — QM-Managed Official Course Reviews.

Nine of Pointful’s 20 courses are now QM Certified. “QM reviews help ensure that we have consistent courses across our catalog,” Crystal said. “They also serve to validate the work we are doing to create quality courses, to provide an external stamp of approval.”

The QM Certification Mark also aids in Pointful’s marketing efforts. As the team aims to get Pointful’s courses in front of as many students as possible, Steve shared that the certification mark is a differentiator and helps them secure new accounts. Crystal added, “QM’s correlation verification is also valuable. Being able to show states such as Maryland and California how our courses meet their standards is very important when marketing our offerings.” 

Just as its courses are forward-thinking, so is Pointful Education. Its immediate plan is to have the remaining courses in its catalog QM certified with the newly released fifth edition of the K-12 Publisher Rubric. Then, as its catalog expands, new courses will also go through QM-Managed Official Reviews, helping to ensure that today’s students succeed now and in the future.