Design Courses Intentionally Using QM Higher Ed Standards as a Foundation

Bridge to Quality: QM Online Course Design Guide

Basic Edition

Updated October 2023 to reflect the Quality Matters Higher Education Rubric, Seventh Edition.

Start with Purpose. Finish with Learner Success.

Watch Dr. Bethany Simunich's introduction to the QM Course Design Guide. The Guide has been updated according to the QM Higher Education Rubric, Seventh Edition

The QM Course Design Guide provides a phased approach to help you engage with course design as a thoughtful, student-focused process. You can use the web-based guide to complete the hands-on, iterative work that is central to creating a quality course. This includes: 

  1. Alignment of foundational course elements.
  2. Promoting engaged, active learning.
  3. Creative work and organization to develop the course within a digital learning environment (LMS).

For blended/hybrid learning situations, the guide helps you structure the course to ensure that face-to-face and online components complement one another and ensures that online course components are designed with quality in mind. Unless noted otherwise in the guide, all steps and guidance outlined can be applied to designing your online course — whether asynchronous or synchronous — or your blended/hybrid course.

Work Backwards. Put Design First.

The Bridge to Quality Guide is for individual faculty members tasked with moving a course online. It is also intended to aid instructional designers new to QM or interested in resources to assist faculty. If you are mapping out an online course and want to achieve the highest level of quality possible given the time, resources and support available, this guide is for you. The process you’ll use is iterative and focused on continuous improvement. This means you’ll work on planning and mapping at a high level — aligning design elements before creating specific course materials, assessments, etc. You’ll create the best course you can for your students. Then, when the course is taught, notes and reflections on the course design can be made. The notes can be used for both small and large revisions.

If you’re familiar with QM Higher Ed. Course Design Standards, you’ll notice references to them in the guide. The guide will help you see how the work you put toward thoughtful design can lead to meeting QM Standards — a sign of course quality.

QM Community = You + Students

The Bridge to Quality Course Design Guide is community-inspired. Following the unprecedented shift to remote instruction due to the COVID-19 crisis, educators world-wide looked to QM for resources to assist them with transitioning to online and virtual modalities in a short amount of time, and subsequently (as the pandemic conditions subsided) with more intention. This guide serves as a bridge from wherever you might be in your course design journey to help you create quality learning environments for your students.

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