"As our faculty started getting to know Quality Matters as an organization and familiarizing themselves with QM's K-12 Secondary Rubric, we began to see the value in embracing QM, its tools and professional development," began Jamie Bugner, Curriculum Coordinator, Virtual SC, Office of Virtual Education, South Carolina Department of Education. "In our short time as subscribers, QM professional development has provided faculty with insight into their teaching styles, ideas for individual courses and a perspective for the direction of our new course review, design and revision process."
Each institution takes a unique and individualized approach to QM implementation, complete with a road map with its own successes and challenges. "One of the biggest problems I found with adopting new procedures and introducing new ideas—at least with our program in particular—is time," Jamie reported. "We have an incredibly hard-working group of individuals working for our program, which doesn't always leave extra time for new training, making organizational buy-in difficult." Fatigue with new initiatives may set in, even those with demonstrated benefits. "It's easy to think, 'what really makes this better than anything else we've tried?',” Jamie said. "However, after subscribing to QM, we began to see differences."
Virtual SC's administrative team decided to have all full-time teachers take the K-12 Applying the Quality Matters Secondary Rubric (K-12 APP) workshop as an introduction to Quality Matters. "Quality Matters has a great system in place," Jamie said.
Before subscribing, Virtual SC began updating its course review, design and revision process. "We were having trouble solidifying a plan and getting everyone on board," Jamie remembered. "Being part of an organization like Quality Matters has helped refine this process." Virtual SC is especially pleased with the K-12 Secondary Rubric's use as a way to ensure all faculty know “okay, this is the direction we’re taking here.” The Rubric's structure "helps expose users to new ways of looking at the course review process", according to Jamie. "While we're not using the K-12 Rubric exclusively in our courses, we have used it to help us create a process that works best for us."
Adopting QM terminology as part of the course design and review process "has helped solidify roles and eliminate confusion by allowing us to set expectations for each other and put us on the path toward organized goals for our courses," Jamie said. "We develop courses in-house via collaboration between our Curriculum and Design Team and have our full-time and adjunct teachers act as Subject Matter Experts and Team Liaisons."
Completion of the K-12 APP workshop helped solidify faculty understanding of the course design process and how things like framing can change a learner’s experience in a course. "It's important to specify how each standard is met, and why it's important to make course information available to interested parents and school administrators," Jamie said. "Quality Matters has also helped to open up the discussion about accessibility and how this affects our learners, courses, and program as a whole."
Accessibility, already a priority for Virtual SC, was easier to understand after exposure to QM. "Accessibility has been on our radar for a while, and QM has helped us understand how and why our courses need to be accessible," Jamie reported. "It has given us a better idea of how to approach reviewing, designing, and teaching courses in a virtual setting." Jamie described having QM present in the organization as "[fueling] discussion and [opening] up communication about the way we teach our courses and ways we can improve what we do to encourage learner success statewide."
Virtual SC's full-time teachers are taking or preparing to take the K-12 APP as they move forward with QM implementation. "We'll continue to support and guide faculty as they discover QM and are introduced to our new course revision process," Jamie said. Virtual SC has asked its core Course Revision Team to become Certified K-12 Reviewers, while many teachers have also volunteered to earn the certification. "An adjunct teacher has heard so much positive feedback about Quality Matters that she decide to enroll in the K-12 APP," Jamie said. "We hope to have all our teachers fully trained and seeing the positive changes that can happen in our course review, design and revision processes. We look forward to seeing it continue to evolve our program for the better."
Jamie Bugner is the Curriculum Coordinator for Virtual South Carolina, Office of Virtual Education for the South Carolina Department of Education