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Quality Matters Rubric – Use and benefits interview
JJ Cloutier, MB Hub’s Digital Communication Coordinator, interviews Ariful Hoq Shanil, MB Hub’s Instructional designer and the Lead Quality Matters Coordinator for the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub, about the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric.
What is the rubric? What are the benefits of using the rubric? How can the rubric be adjusted for the Manitoba context?
JJ: We’re here today. This is JJ Cloutier with Ariful Hoq Shanil, the instructional designer from the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub.
JJ: Now I’m going to ask him some questions about QM and rubrics because, full disclosure, I found 20 references on rubrics that had nothing to do with QM. Now he is going to explain to me how this rubric is used and is different than assessment rubrics that are used by instructional designers and professors throughout the province.
JJ: First question I have, Ariful, What is Quality Matters? Why was Quality Matters chosen over any other organization or tool?
Ariful: Thank you for asking this question first. Quality Matters is a now non profit organization.
- It works internationally across 44 countries, and it works with the 1,200 higher post-secondary institutions.
- The specialization is for ensuring the standard in higher education to maintain the quality for online and hybrid learning.
- Why we choose Quality Matters on the basic reason is the resource toolkit developed by the Quality Matters based on the current research practice and the best practices for the higher education and the online learning.
- And it’s regularly updated. There are other rubrics for designing course, but the unique thing for the Quality Matters, it is based on the current research and the best practices and it works almost from 2005. It has a long history of working in this sector.
JJ: So, under 20 years of them doing it. We’re now on rubric seven.
JJ: They are regularly updated.
Ariful: For sure, you’re perfectly correct. From 2005, they already updated seven versions, they are very much updated.
JJ: How does QM support quality assurance with courses? Because Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub, we’re always talking about: We are there to support quantity but also quality of courses. How is this doing this?
Ariful: The other prime reason for Quality Matters, ensuring the quality of online and hybrid learning. For that reason they are adopted three primary approach,
- One is to using the QM rubrics.
- Another is to review process of online or hybrid.
- And third is to ensuring professional development opportunity for the instructional designer, instructor who are involved to design or facilitating online course. They are creating scope for them for professional development.
Those are the three way they are currently practicing. Through rubrics, through course review process and the professional development, ensuring the quality of online and hybrid learning.
JJ: How specifically does the rubric help instructors and professors with designing their courses?
Ariful: Well, that’s a very good question. The QM rubrics is a set of Specific Review Standards which is used design online and hybrid course. And these are based on the research supported documents and also published best practices. And they’re regularly updated.
When instructional designer going to design a course, I should say when an instructor is going to design a course, then these rubrics could work as a guidance how they should develop a course and which best practices they should adopt. Rubrics give them a proper pathway from where they should start, What they need to incorporate into their course, how they can ensure the student perspectives.
One of the basic principles for QM rubrics is these. Rubrics are designed from the student perspectives. When they are going to developing a course, they need to ensure student’s experiences are present there. Rubrics give them the opportunity to make ensuring those components into their course.
The other thing is if you use the rubrics, then you have opportunity to review your course through the quality review process. These are the main things. Sometimes you might be unsure whether my course is maintaining the proper quality. You might think this is a very good course, but if you want to check it from the third eye. Quality Matters gives you the review process from where you can review your own course.
But if you have limited resource or if you have time constrain, you can do it by yourself. They have online review, they call it self-assessment. You can review it by yourself. Check your course whether it is aligned with the QM rubrics or not.
JJ: There’s several options there ..
Ariful: There are several options
JJ: … for the review process. That’s okay.
JJ: How is this a benefit to learners then?
Ariful: On the primary philosophy for Quality Matters. Whatever resources or material they are designing or developing for the instructor or the instructional designer, they are based on the learner’s perspective. They ensure learners perspectives, learner experience are present into the course.
- When instructor design course based on the QM rubric, that’s actually I mean, gives you the opportunity to ensure that these course is actually designed from the learners’ eyes.
- If any learner needs any kind of needs, it could be the assessment. It could be the accessibility. It could be how learner could be succussed. Those components are ensured by the QM Rubric.
- These are not something decided by one group of instructors only. These are based on the research and the best practices which is currently happening in online and hybrid sector.
- They regularly updated it, so when an instructor’s designing a course for the learner that’s actually give them opportunity, learner to properly engage with the course and how they can be successful from this course. This is ensuring by this rubrics, ultimately benefit the learner.
- Research shows that they have evidence when a course is designed, aligning with the rubric, that’s actually increase the retention rate of the learner into the course, even in online and hybrid learning.
JJ: Wow. Following these best practices is going to help your learners be more successful.
JJ: I just want to note that hybrid is actually now a term that QM has taken on. And it replaces blended in our context. We use online and blended and distributed learning. But QM is replaced, blended with hybrid. I just want to note that for people when we’re talking about this.
JJ: You briefly talked about the standards that make up the rubric. I would really like to, to go over the categories of the standards so people know what like encompassed within it.
Ariful: Well, QM rubrics is designed with eight general review standards and there are 44 specific review standards under the eight general review standards.
- So you can say there are eight broad components of the QM component is the course review and introductions of scores under the general review standard, there are some specific review standards, they call it SRS.
- That’s give you the opportunity with the annotations and the examples of the best practices when you’re going to ensuring your overview introduction is aligned with the QM SRS, then you’ve got some opportunity. What type of best practices are there?
- The second general review standards are the learning objective. Your course should be, all components of your course should be aligned with the learning objectives or the learning outcomes or competency of your course. QM calls it the learning objective for the ease of the reading or for the ease of the using. Those are the same thing, that should be aligned with the learning objectives.
- Then the third review standard is the assessment and the measurement.
- Fourth is the instructional materials. The material that we’re using for the learner to dissimulate the learning to them.
- The fifth was the learning activity and the learning interactions in the online and hybrid space.
- Six was one of the most important things we’re using for online learning and hybrid learning is, of course, technology. What type of technology we’re using to design a course or to facilitate a course that is the six standard.
- And the seventh was the learner support. How learner gets support is accessibility thing, if there is any policy things, if there is any other thing learner need to require to become successful to the court. Those things are discussed in the learner review standard.
- Then the final thing was there was focusing on the accessibility and usability. They’re not 100% ensure the accessibility part, but they are particularly focused on the texts, they are particularly focused on the images, they are going to more emphasis on the video and audio. Those components need to be accessible from the learner perspectives. They are taking it very seriously now. And also the usability, how the navigation experience from the learner easily navigable, or they can enroll them. That type of usability things is also ensure from that type of accessibility and usability standard.
These are the eight general components which actually make whole QM rubrics and under there are 44 specific review standards with exemplary annotation for the instructors.
JJ: Yeah, when I was looking through the new rubric workbook, I looked at the annotations and they’re not just like little bullet points, like 1-2-3 sentences. They’re actually like sometimes on one standard it’s a whole page of annotations and examples. Especially when it’s like maybe there’s different modalities that are being looked at. It seems quite extensive and well documented. The annotations for each of these standards. When we were working the other day on some of the content or the changes, I noticed that in the rubric this time they added inclusion and belonging and a special note out for academic integrity. So, it’s quite detailed.
JJ: But thinking about the Manitoba context, there are some areas that are not included in this rubric. What can departments or faculties, or even institutions do to use this and also incorporate indigenous knowledges as part of it?
Ariful: One of the best things for the QM rubrics is continuous improving rubrics every time it tried to improve itself by committee and until now they have just seven versions, that means it’s not static things. Every time when anything is required to incorporate into the rubric, they try to consider that.
But we need to remember that this is currently, they’re designing a rubric which they’re using across the world. But that does not mean they are ignoring the local context. There are opportunities, if you want to consider the local context, we can do that. We can also customize the rubric.
If we think about Manitoba context for us, indigenization, and decolonization, these are the prime agenda in our higher education. We can definitely consider that with the QM Rubric. If we ensure the QM Rubric, that gives you opportunity. This is actually a standard quality online and hybrid course comparing with other institutions practicing across the world. We can also ensure the course are also aligned with our indigenous practice, with our decolonization agenda. That is no issue with that. This can go side by side.
JJ: Yeah, they can work together like one is the core and one is additional. Again, we can talk about it can be at like an institution level. It also could be down to like a department. They might have additional things that need to be added so they can supplement it.
Ariful: Definitely, if we start practicing this, who knows, maybe after five years we can recommend to QM, for Canada or Manitoba why don’t we include this into our perspective. They’re open with that, they’re really flexible with that. If we can start practicing it and we have evidence to show them, these are required to address the context of Manitoba or the other Canadian regions definitely we have opportunity or room to discuss on that option.
JJ: So, part of this whole research is we have the ability to input back exactly.
Ariful: QM is not only offering the rubrics from there, they also asks our feedback, asks our recommendations every time when they’re going to revise the rubric. They broadly dissimulate some questionnaires, some open discussions. What type of new components, we need to address for the online and hybrid learning? Think about the Manitoba context, if we think these are very important and we start already practicing into our institutions, we have opportunity to offer them. This should be included for our context.
JJ: So how are instructors, professors, or anyone in sort a teaching role? How should they be using these rubrics in the teaching? When do they pull it in.
Ariful: The QM rubrics for design? It’s not for the facilitation. We should remember that when we are going to design or thinking about a course from that level, we should consider the QM rubrics because it’s give you the opportunity when you’re aligning your own content and also the other component of the course, whether they are based on the best practices of online and hybrid courses and whether they’re going to address the student perspectives, those two big things.
And those two major components are also based on the instructional designer principles. When an instructor is thinking about a course. If they considered the rubric, then it’s actually give them the real perspectives. For example, they’re thinking about ensuring the accessibility at the beginning. So, at the beginning when they’re selecting a component, they might think about a video. But if you’re going to use the QM rubrics, then they need to think, is this accessible? What other modality we can offer for our learner? What type of learners we have? QM rubric give you the opportunity to think about it before offering it for your own learner. Those are the opportunities you need to consider before starting designing a course.
Another thing is when you already designed a course, then you can go back before published it with your student to assess your own course by yourself. If you have time constrain, just check it. The content that I design, the way I organize the whole course, how, how does it align with QM rubrics? Is there any special consideration, I should consider from the length of the QM rubrics that’s give you the continuous improvement opportunity for the instructor.
Besides that, if an instructor already offered a course, think about to redesign a course for the next semester. Then they can also come back to the rubrics and from the learning of the current course, they can assess their course with the QM rubrics and redesign the new course. And try to address the gap or experience they learned from the students, they can address it into the new course.
Those are the opportunity for instructors or the professors have. And if institutions have proper budget or manpower, they can always ask to review their course from the third eye. And for us, if you think about the native context, we have Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub, we have a system subscription of QM rubrics, and our colleagues are highly expert on that things. If any instructor or professor needs help, we can walk through the whole process side by side with an instructor if they need any kind of advice. For example, they might not interested to align the whole course for the all eight general standard, but they are only interested for the accessibility part. We can look on it. We have also opportunity.
The last but not the least, QM, always encourage to working with the community. If anyone create a account in QM, they actually gives them the room to communicate with the other colleagues across the world who are actually using the QM rubrics. If they have any query, they have any suggestion, they can always go back and share their own thinking with the other colleagues who are using the QM Rubric and learn from them. Share with them. So those are the opportunities.
JJ: So in addition to like designing from scratch or taking an existing online course. I just want to clarify that say someone was doing it in the conversion process, like I’ve done this always face-to-face and now I’m being required to do this online or blended or distributed learning. That they could also use this as a guide for that process to change the face-to-face to another modality.
Ariful: Definitely for that if they need any support, we are here from the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub, as an instructional designer, we have media person, if they need any kind of support to design any course or they need any advice on the instructional perspectives, we are here to support them.
JJ: So you were talking about earlier that you could sign up and get an account. Where would you think the best places, like if someone’s listened to this or read this as the transcript is like, okay, I’m interested in doing QM, but I’m not ready to take one of the full courses. Where, where can they start with QM?
Ariful: That’s a good question, there are several options; one of the things is from the Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub,
- We have a dedicated page for our instructors and our members. We have a page dedicated on the Quality Matters, if they go there and there are some page instructions on how they can start.
- And there are a self-paced course also if you go there, they can take this. That could take two to 3 hours, depending on the space or time availability you have. If you want to learn by yourself how actually all the things are working, then you can take this course also.
- But apart from this course, there are some other resources there that will guide you how to start.
- But besides that, you can also directly go to the QM website, qualitymatters.org and just sign up a new account with your institutional ID as you are a subscription member, when open account that actually give you the options to explore the QM materials from their site.
- Also last, we have an option for our members as we are Manitoba Flexible Learning Hub we are working for the online and hybrid learning quality in many over. We provide one to one support to our instructor.
- If someone needs additional support for the QM rubrics, they need us to walk through the whole process. They can book a consultation with us. We can walk them with the whole process and guide them how from what they can start.
JJ: This has been really great. I now completely understand how the 20 links that I found before are really great, but they are nothing like what this rubric is used for. I think this is going to be great information for those new to QM as well.
Ariful: Thank you, JJ, for giving me the opportunity to talk about the Quality Matters. I think we’re going to learn together regarding the Quality Matters.