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November 22, 2013
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine

'World Literature' course earns Quality Matters Certification

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's online "World Literature" English course has received the University's first Quality Matters Certification from Quality Matters, an international organization that works to improve and certify online courses.

The designation, awarded following an external peer-review by three professors across the U.S., certifies that a course meets Quality Matters' standards for excellence in online course deign and delivery.

Danette DiMarco, SRU professor of English, and Brian Danielson, SRU director for the center for excellence in teaching and educational technology, applied for the certification and worked with reviewers during the evaluation process.

QM is a faculty-centered, peer review process designed to certify the quality of online course design and online components. The QM rubric used in course reviews includes eight general standards and 41 specific standards. Students in "World Literature" analyze selected works by writers outside the U.S. and Britain.

Danielson said a course must be offered at least three times to be considered for evaluation. SRU launched "World Literature" online three years ago.

The certification mark, which includes the year of the review, has been placed on the front page of the course, in Desire2Learn, SRU's online learning management system. The certification adds prestige for prospective students, like a program accreditation, Danielson said.

"The QM Certification provides an opportunity for faculty to put their course through an external standard for recognition," Danielson said. "To have faculty take interest in having their course peer reviewed is very exciting."

DiMarco said the certification was a detailed process.

She filled out a long form before QM would review the course. She and Danielson participated in a conference call with all three external reviews prior to the start of the review.

QM assigned three people to complete the external review; a faculty lead reviewer, a faculty content specialist and an instructional designer.

DiMarco said the three-week review included a close examination of alignment in the course. As QM explains, alignment in a course occurs when critical course components - learning objectives, assessment and measurement, instructional materials, learner interaction and engagement and course technology - work together to ensure students achieve desired learning outcome.

"The QM reviewers assigned to my course were concrete and helpful and, I believe, spot on in assessments of refining learning objectives," DiMarco said.

SRU has agreed to participate in a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education subscription to the QM program. Quality Matters and the QM Rubric will help provide SRU with a solid framework for developing and delivering the highest-quality distance education courses.

Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.