Quality Matters and Acadeum Announce Collaboration to Develop Quality Standards for Online Course Sharing

Industry: Education

Experts will examine quality from the student perspective in a year-long project

Annapolis, MD (PRUnderground) September 13th, 2022

In a timely and fitting initiative to advance the practice of inter-institutional collaboration, Quality Matters (QM) has launched a year-long project to develop quality standards and guidelines for online course sharing.

The new project comes as higher education institutions continue to expand online learning, navigate a rapidly-changing labor market and challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic. A recent study conducted by Quality Matters and Eduventures found that more than three in four college online officers are planning for long-term growth in online education. More than 90 percent of leaders surveyed said that they expect traditional-age undergraduates on their campus to take courses in a hybrid format by 2025. As academic leaders continue to seek flexible, efficient avenues for increasing student access to high-quality, credit-bearing online courses while using institutional resources more effectively, online course sharing has taken root as a critical tool — in use at hundreds of institutions across the U.S. and beyond.

QM established its inter-institutional standards for online courses in the mid-2000s as part of MarylandOnline’s first-of-its-kind project to make courses available among community colleges within the state. Now, as an independent non-profit organization, QM is expanding its pioneering work in online course quality assurance to include a broader perspective on the student experience in digital learning. The expansion will include the student learning experience in the thousands of courses available via course sharing consortia and platforms such as Acadeum.

According to Dr. Deb Adair, QM’s Executive Director, “QM has always taken a student-centered approach to quality in digital learning, and we think that same perspective is important in understanding and defining quality in the academic course sharing arrangements that make it possible for students to more effectively advance their academic progress. While course sharing can remove the enrollment and credit transfer hurdles students face when taking courses outside their home institutions, students also need to feel confident they’re enrolling in well-designed and supported online courses, taught by well-prepared instructors, regardless of where the course is offered. This project is taking the work we have refined over the last 15 years and applying it to the course sharing context.”

QM has established an Advisory Committee and a Working Group of academic leaders with extensive online course sharing experience at two-year, four-year, public and private institutions. The experts in these groups are tasked with considering quality from the student perspective and determining how it can be evidenced, beginning with a definition of quality and quality principles that are anchored in the student learning experience.

In recent years, interest in online course sharing to solve challenges such as resource limitations, barriers to student progress and curricular relevance has led to the formation of numerous consortia across public and private institutions. The consortia operate in partnership with the Council of Independent Colleges, The League for Innovation, Complete College America and the Southern Regional Education Board. The need for high-quality online courses and student-centric pathways has increased as learners navigate a rapidly changing labor market and the broader challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

QM is collaborating with Acadeum — a company that supports course sharing at more than 425 higher education institutions — during the project. Acadeum manages the largest course sharing network in higher education and has been at the forefront of course sharing acceleration; institutions have guided over 30,000 students to Acadeum’s online course catalog to help them get ahead or stay on track for timely graduation.

“We’re fortunate to support Quality Matters, the leader in the field, in this initiative,” said David Daniels, CEO of Acadeum. “By applying a scholarly lens to the course development process, QM is shaping the future of course sharing, where institutions are designing courses with inter-institutional collaboration in mind, at the highest possible standard.”

Course sharing provides academic leaders with flexible and efficient avenues for increasing student access to credit-bearing courses. National organizations such as the Council of Independent Colleges, The League for Innovation, Complete College America and the Southern Regional Education Board have recently launched course-sharing initiatives in partnership with Acadeum to address a variety of learner needs and to improve learning outcomes. Through the consortial model, courses count fully toward GPA, financial aid, and graduation requirements at students’ home institutions, ensuring that learners don’t waste credits or time on their path to a credential.

At the conclusion of this project, institutions seeking to enroll students in a partner institution’s course through Acadeum will have the option of searching for courses that align with QM’s quality standards. The standards and guidelines will be applicable and available for use in any course sharing context.

About Acadeum

Acadeum helps colleges and universities create academic partnerships with like-minded institutions to support student progress and institutional success Today, more than 425 higher ed institutions use Acadeum’s course-sharing network to place students in online courses they need to stay on track for timely graduation. Institutions gain new revenue from courses they offer through the network, by sharing tuition dollars from courses taken by their students, and by keeping at-risk students enrolled. To learn more about Acadeum, please visit acadeum.com.

About Quality Matters

Grounded in research. Driven by best practices. A community that puts learners first. Quality Matters (QM) is the global organization leading quality assurance in online and innovative digital teaching and learning environments. It provides a scalable quality assurance system for online and blended learning used within and across organizations. When you see QM Certification Marks on courses or programs, it means they have met QM Course Design Standards or QM Program Review Criteria in a rigorous review process.

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