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Carolina Distance Learning™ is a Quality Matters™ Subscriber

By Norma Hollebeke
Director of Strategic Initiatives, Carolina Distance Learning™

For more than 80 years, college faculty have trusted Carolina Biological Supply Company to provide them with the best science materials and service. Accordingly, we believe it is imperative to deliver excellence in the development and design of our Carolina Distance Learning™ digital content. In developing our lab content, we take a learner-driven approach. Our content and kits incorporate active learning, thus encouraging greater cognitive presences for online students. Curriculum is created using best practices of instructional design to meet and assess measurable learning objectives.

Committed to best practices

Carolina Distance Learning™ is committed to ensuring that our online lab content and courses employ the best practices based on existing research literature. Curriculum development goals are focused on ensuring the highest levels of student learning, interaction, and engagement. To meet these goals, Carolina Distance Learning™ has become a Quality Matters™ (QM) subscriber.

QM is a faculty-centered peer review process designed to certify the quality of online courses. The QM Rubric and course review process were developed from a grant provided by the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). QM has received national recognition for its peer-based approach to quality assurance and continuous improvement in distance learning, and has more than 800 subscribers in North America and around the world.

The QM Rubric is research based and promotes best practice-based quality standards. Alignment, a central concept of the rubric, requires that critical course components—learning objectives, assessment and measurement, instructional materials, learner interaction and engagement, and course technology—work together to ensure that students achieve desired learning outcomes.

Initiating the QM Course Review

We have embarked on the path to earn QM Certification for our content as part of a commitment to continuous improvement. A well-designed course allows faculty to focus on their students and the subject matter at hand. There is ample research supporting the inherent relationship between course design and the learning process. Implementing design standards that reflect current academic research on effective learning fosters a positive student experience.

As digital content providers, Carolina Distance Learning™ follows best practices in instructional design, and the QM Course Review helps us strengthen the quality of our products. The QM Higher Education Publisher Rubric is a set of quality design standards for diverse publisher products that is applied during the course review. Though it, like other QM Rubrics, is primarily concerned with course design, it places greater emphasis on the quality of content as it applies to publisher-provided materials. As a result of greater emphasis on content, the course review uses 2 subject matter experts.

QM standards should also assist instructors and departments in selecting publisher materials based on their adherence to best practice and research-supported standards. This will be particularly important to institutions committed to implementing best practice-based quality standards in the design of their online course offerings. Through our QM subscription, Carolina Distance Learning™ is meeting the demands of discerning institutions that know QM-certified courses offer quality design promoting a meaningful learning experience.