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Course Design Rubric Standards

Current Edition: Fifth Edition, 2014

Description: A set of eight General Standards and 43 Specific Review Standards used to evaluate the design of online and blended courses. Annotations explain the applications of the Standards and their inter-relationships. The Rubric has a scoring system used by the Review Team to determine whether a course meets Standards. Standards with the highest point values are considered essential and must be satisfied for a course to meet QM Standards overall.

Membership Requirements: Higher Ed Basic, Full, Consortium or System. Members with an HE Individual or Academic Service Company subscription, or those with a Supplemental option that includes the Higher Ed Rubric can also access this Rubric.

Who uses this Rubric?

The Higher Ed Rubric is intended for use with courses that are delivered fully online or have a significant online component (hybrid and blended courses). Course Designers use the Rubric to aid in the creation of courses designed to meet Standards from the outset. The Rubric is also used to assess the level to which a course meets Standards and highlight areas for improvement. A score of 85% (with Essential Standards being met) qualifies a course to receive a QM Certification for quality course design*. QM Members using this Rubric include:

  • Individual Faculty and Instructional Designers
  • Four-year Accredited Colleges and Universities
  • Community Colleges

Key Features

Unique to the QM Rubric is the concept of Alignment. This occurs when critical course components — Learning Objectives (#2), Assessment and Measurement (#3), Instructional Materials (#4), Course Activities and Learner Interaction (#5), and Course Technology (#6) — work together to ensure students achieve desired learning outcomes. Specific Standards included in Alignment are indicated in the Rubric Annotations.

The eight General Standards of this Rubric are:

  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives (Competencies)
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Instructional Materials
  5. Course Activities and Learner Interaction
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility and Usability*

Development Notes

The initial standards and subsequent modifications have been based on the insights of teams of experienced online teachers and instructional designers and on the best practices standards promulgated by accrediting bodies and national and international organizations. In addition, the QM Standards have been examined for consistency with the conclusions of the educational research literature regarding factors that improve student learning and retention rates, as well as activities that increase learning and engagement.

* Meeting QM's accessibility Standards does not guarantee or imply that specific country/federal/state/local accessibility regulations are met. Please consult with an accessibility specialist to ensure that accessibility regulations are met.