Quality Matters and MERLOT today announced their plans to develop synergies between their respective professional development and technology services and collaborate on joint projects to advance higher education’s capacity to design quality online courses and choose online content that meet quality requirements.
The first joint effort of these two internationally recognized organizations is crystalized in the theme of the Quality Matters' 4th Annual Conference on Quality Assurance in Online Learning: Where Design and Content Converge - Featuring Special Contributions by MERLOT. During the October 3-6, 2012 conference in Tucson Arizona, workshops, presentations, and the networking among QM and MERLOT community members will inform project plans and priorities to address higher education’s need for designing and developing high quality online and blended courses.
Deb Adair, Director of the Quality Matters Program, highlights the opportunities in collaboration:
“We see the potential for positive and productive synergy between two organizations that support faculty peer review for the continuous improvement and quality assurance of online and blended courses. As design (QM’s focus) and content (MERLOT’s focus) are clearly integrated in a course, developing ways to effectively and efficiently connect the development and review of these preconditions for course quality will benefit the online learning community.“
“Enabling faculty to apply quality criteria in course design and content with time-saving and reliable technologies and methodologies will help colleges and universities accelerate their development and delivery of quality online education,” says Gerry Hanley, MERLOT Executive Director and Senior Director for Academic Technology Services at the California State University, Office of the Chancellor. “Using MERLOT services to deliver quality and free course content at the time and place faculty are designing how best to achieve their instructional goals will be produce tangible benefits.”
QM’s widely adopted quality assurance framework will provide touch points for integrating MERLOT’s twelve-year expertise in training and peer reviewing of online content. MERLOT’s content discovery services can also be easily integrated into an institution’s learning management systems with either building blocks or embedded code. As faculty implement QM quality rubrics for course design, they will be able to more easily find quality content that meet their instructional design requirements. Helping institutions improve accessibility in online courses, a goal shared by both organizations, will be another collaborative project. The California State University, MERLOT’s administrative home, is a national leader in institutionalizing practices for improving accessibility of academic technologies.
Created and continuously led by the California State University since 1997, MERLOT (Multimedia Educational Resources for Learning and Online Teaching at merlot's website) provides free and open access to a digital library of online learning materials and a wealth of open educational services enabling faculty, students, staff, librarians, K-12 teachers, and many others to personalize their organization and authoring of online learning materials. With 23 discipline-based editorial boards,“citation indices”, and other quality assurance indicators, MERLOT provides teachers and learners the opportunity to explore and use learning materials from its collection of 34,000+ resources. With over 100,000 MERLOT members from around the world, higher education partners, academic professional societies, digital libraries, and corporate partners, the MERLOT collection and community continues to grow and empower open and free online teaching and learning.
About the Quality Matters Program (QM)
QM (qmprogram.org), a non-profit program of MarylandOnline, Inc. (MOL), is a leader in quality assurance for online education in the U.S.A. and has received wide recognition for its contributions to continuous improvement in online education and online student learning. Quality Matters (QM) develops and disseminates rubrics for the effective design of online and blended courses, based on best practices advocated by leading distance learning organizations and research findings on effective online learning. QM sponsors a faculty-centered, peer review process to evaluate the design of such courses and recommend enhancements, and QM certifies courses that meet its standards with a U.S. registered certification mark. QM has a strategic focus on next generation E-Learning, instructional design standards and accreditation standards and undertakes research, development, pilot testing, and coordination to enhance quality and reduce costs through its own organization and through affiliated educational partners. QM has trained more than 14,000 faculty and supports a database of approximately 4000 QM-certified peer reviewers who have reviewed almost 3000 online and blended courses since 2006. Approximately 600 institutions (post-secondary, K-12, and provider organizations) in the U.S. and abroad subscribe to the Quality Matters Program.