Friday, March 04, 2011

A National Benchmark for Online Course Design (?!) QM

You perhaps, got the same email this week I did from Quality Matters Program looking for folks who want to participate in their program to become part of their trainer and peer reviewer program. "QM is looking to build our national database of certified G6-12 peer reviewers immediately." It sounds like once certified you'll be reviewing courses and paid to do so. "Both trainers and reviewers receive stipends for their work."

Of course you pay to take their required training first. And at least one of the courses they require is a self-paced course. Some have a f2f option.

What I found most interesting were the basic qualifications to participate; "To be eligible for certification as a G6-12 trainer, K-12 personnel must have taught or developed an online or blended course during the previous 18 months or participate in teacher education programs."

They apparently believe every school of education faculty knows about basic quality issues for online education. I don't agree. Last year at SITE (this year's conference is next week) I asked a group of about 100 ed school faculty how many were teaching at least one course online (more than half) and then asked how many of their programs included preparation to teach online as part of their programs (less than a handful!). I'll be asking the same question next week.

I don't have any faith in their selection criteria for higher education. And with that as the first flag, I have concerns that go wider and deeper. They cite, as background for the creation of their rubric, national standards from SREB, iNACOL, ISTE, and Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (BTW they list iNACOL but use the old organizational name which is another flag.)

If you've followed me at all, you know I have a concern that the standards may only truly be understood by some insiders. I'm concerned the Quality Matters workshops (can a self-paced course be legitimately called a workshop?) won't be enough to produce the type of understanding necessary to do an adequate job. (BTW not all are self-paced and there are F2F options too.)

Here's an example of the QM rubrics: General Standard 8: Accessibility The face-to-face and online course components are accessible to all students.

I know one virtual school program who now admits they didn't understand the implications of a similar statement in the iNACOL standards; approved lots of courses as meeting the standard; then had to go back and make the producers fix the courses when they better understood the standard. (Of course that also meant the producers hadn't understood the standard either.)

If someone participates in the QM program I'd like to hear about it. I can't tell if this is just a scheme to get folks to buy their workshops or if they really plan a big marketing campaign to review online programs.

If you'd like to have your courses or programs reviewed, please get in touch with me. I, and other colleagues I trust can do it, and we understand the intricacies of online course design and delivery.


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