Quality Matters is an accreditation organization for online courses and programs. Through a subscription service, they also provide rubrics for K-12 and postsecondary institutions to evaluate their courses and programs. At first, I thought this would be a gold mine of information on online programs. However, their standards reflect what has been my main concern throughout this project—that online learning is not being treated as something different than face-to-face learning, but is instead being measured against face-to-face learning by face-to-face standards, as if there is no difference between the two besides physical proximity. If I didn't know the Quality Matters rubric was intended specifically for online programs, I might apply it equally well to a 100% face-to-face course or program. The standards do not assert any specific affordances of online learning. Rather, they impose rigorous general standards that I think many face-to-face courses at universities would fail to meet. I think this is intentional , because there is a general perception that online learning is not as rigorous as face-to-face learning (Santilli & Beck, 2005; Ward et al., 2010). So I think this rubric is intended to make sure program developers adequately minimize the perceived constraints of online learning, instead of maximizing the affordances. I do not believe this rubric gives credit to the potential of online learning. The title of the organization (quality matters) is itself an assertion that online learning lacks quality.
Santilli, S., & Beck, V. (2005). Graduate faculty perceptions of online teaching. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 6(2), 155–160.
Ward, M. E., Peters, G., & Shelley, K. (2010). Student and faculty perceptions of the quality of online learning experiences. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 11(3), 57–77.